You may have to look harder to see those convoys of motor homes headed for vacation spots this summer. According to a report in USA Today, RVs are getting smaller.
While sales of traditional motorhomes have grown at a respectable 6.2% rate for the first six months of the year, two smaller classes encompassing large van conversions have grown nearly twice as fast, the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) reports.
“The era of bigger-is-better and more ostentatious” is over, declares RVIA President Richard Coon. Now, “the trend is toned down quite a bit.”
Blame the economy and gas prices, but also retirees who have decided they don’t need rolling McMansions for status in otherwise hard times.
“Fuel prices are driving it, but this is a cultural shift,” says Bob Wheeler, CEO of Airstream Inc., which converts delivery-van-style Mercedes-Benz Sprinters into low-key motorhomes. “There’s a shift away from conspicuous consumption.”
Though these units are priced upwards of $125,000, Wheeler says they typically don’t have the fancy paint and graphics of larger units. “No flashy paint job,” he says. Rather, it’s “understated elegance” — and up to 18 miles a gallon from the modest diesel engine, triple the gas mileage of some big gasoline-powered motor homes.
Even in the bigger vehicle classes, some RVers are downsizing. Fleetwood RV Inc. says many buyers of more traditional motorhomes, who formerly would have opted for 36-footers or bigger, today are downsizing to its 28- to 32-foot Storm line, which starts at about $92,000, says Lenny Razo, eastern regional sales director.
USA Today reported that those RVs are being fitted with more space-maximizing features, such as bunks that drop from the ceiling. Many buyers “are getting older, and they don’t need as much” space, Razo says.
Winnebago Industries Inc., too, has introduced more lower-priced motorhomes and fuel-saving diesels. “In the last couple of years, people are wanting value products, not necessarily all the bells and whistles like in 2004,” says spokeswoman Sheila Davis.
Smaller motorhomes also can be more versatile, such as serving as a base camp for little leaguers at games, as well as a home away from home on vacation, she says.
Fleetwood RV Inc. hosted over 400 motorhome owners and suppliers at its “Circle Your Wagons in Shawnee” national rally at the Heart of Oklahoma Expo Center in Shawnee, Okla. last week.
According to a press release, the event, which was the company’s third national rally, included live musical entertainment, a patriotic day parade, Fleetwood RV rally service support and various vendor displays and seminars.
“Overall, the event was a huge success,” said John Draheim, president and CEO of Fleetwood RV. “We always enjoy the opportunity to spend time with our owners; getting to know them better and thanking them for their loyalty and support. I know that I can speak on behalf of everyone from Fleetwood that was in attendance when I say that this year’s event was hard to leave because of how much fun we had with our owners. They really are the best owners in the industry.”
Capitalizing on the excitement, the company announced details for its fourth national owner rally in Goshen, Ind. The event will be held June 27 – July 1, 2012. For more information, including pricing and how to register, please visit: www.fleetwoodrv.com/mhevent.
Rand McNally will kick off its inaugural Best of the Road Rally today (June 23) at Liberty Park in Jersey City, N.J., with Fleetwood RV Inc. serving as the official RV for the event.
According to a press release, the rally will feature a cross-country search for the best small towns in America. Celebrating the great American road trip and the official start to summer, five teams of traveling duos will be handed the keys to a brand-new Saab equipped with Rand McNally’s RVND navigation device.
The teams will depart on a three-week adventure looking for the following categories: friendliest, most beautiful, best for food, most patriotic and most fun towns in America. Each team will be assigned one category for review, which will be unveiled just prior to
• Captain and Clark: Tawny Clark, 25, Bremerton, Wash., and Christopher Staudinger, 25, Pasco, Wash.; a couple who met at the base of Mount Kilimanjaro and dub themselves “modern cartographers,” documenting their travels on their popular blog.
• Fun Finders: Jim Parr, 67, and Bonnie Parr, 65, from St. Petersburg, Fla.; a retired married couple who met in clown school and dedicated their lives to “clowning around” and helping others.
• Gone With the Wynns: Jason Wynn, 29, and Nikki Wynn, 29, from Carrollton, Texas; a married couple who traded in their Dallas home for a life on the road in a fuel-efficient, sustainable RV.
• McNavigators: Daniel Schaub, 36, and JoAnne Schaub, 35, from Cary, N.C.; a happily married couple for 14 years, the Schaubs met in Yellowstone National Park and found that a life on the road brought them together when they were drifting apart.
• Traveling Jules and Traveling Jones: Juliana Broste, 28, and Joan Broste, 62, from Littleton, Colorado; a mother and daughter who have both traveled extensively on their own, but the Best of the Road Rally will be the first time together.
RV Buddies took a look at the Terra 34DS from Fleetwood RV Inc. and rates it as one of the best RV buys of 2011. To see the full review and video go to www.RVBuddies.net now.
“There are a few companies creating interesting floor plans,” said Mark Summers, executive producer of RV Buddies. “What is surprising is to find one of the best in an entry-level Class A motorhome.”
The Fleetwood Terra 34DS starts at $99,000, and offers a lot of value for the money. Full body paint is optional and applied to Fleetwood RV’s impeccable standards. An almost invisible optional bed lowers over the cab area to provide queen-size accommodations. The galley and dinette are forward and laid out well. But amidships is where the big surprise presents itself. The HD-TV is at eye level and both sleeper sofa and comfy lounge chair have views. And for someone working at the dinette on their laptop – they won’t miss a single lap around the track or touch-down.
Moving aft through a hallway is a side bath with plenty of room and privacy. In the back is a residential queen with a large window in the back cap making the space seem even larger.
“The Terra 34DS is unexpected. From the front cap that is stunning to the interior that is truly livable,” adds Summers.
GE Capital, Commercial Distribution Finance today (Aug. 24) announced it has been selected as the exclusive wholesale lender for Fleetwood RV’s new inventory stock program designed to promote high turnover of new inventory.
This program will provide a competitive interest rate on financed inventory for 120 days and will allow dealers to be reimbursed by Fleetwood for 100% of interest charges on new inventory financed through GE Capital and sold in 60 days or less, according to a news release. A second tier will provide for 50% interest reimbursement for inventory sold between 61-90 days. All Fleetwood RV products invoiced on or after Monday, August 23, 2010, are eligible under the program.
“At Fleetwood RV, we are focused on retail and creating additional margin opportunities for our dealers,” said John Draheim, CEO/resident of Fleetwood RV Inc. “This new program reinforces that ideology by lowering costs and adding more value into our products, which helps our dealer partners turn their inventory more quickly. We are excited about the opportunity it creates for our dealer body and appreciate the creativity from GE Capital in its design and implementation.”
“The Fleetwood RV interest reimbursement programs provide a strong incentive for dealers to sell through at retail in today’s market,” said Peter Lannon, managing director – RV, for GE Capital’s CDF business. “We have worked closely with Fleetwood on this program and we are pleased to be able to help them deliver this reimbursement program to their dealers.”
GE Capital’s Commercial Distribution Finance business provides financing options that include inventory financing, purchase order financing, accounts-receivable working capital loans and other programs for recreational vehicles and other industries.
The Fleetwood RV interest reimbursement program is an exclusive program for dealers in the U.S. GE Capital finances all purchases under the program. Dealers pay interest charges to GE Capital and then apply to Fleetwood for the interest refund. Fleetwood RV determines the dealer’s eligibility for the program and administers all payments.
Forest River Inc. has unofficially taken over the No. 1 position in retail sales of motorized RVs.
The Elkhart, Ind.-based manufacturer quietly took over the top spot from perennial leader Winnebago Industries Inc. based on recent retail sales reports from Statistical Surveys Inc. (SSI).
SSI reports separate retail sales figures for Forest River and its subsidiary, Coachmen RV, which it acquired from Coachmen Industries Inc. late in 2008.
However, when combined, the Forest River sales for April as well as for 2010 year-to-date clearly exceed Winnebago and other leaders, Thor Industries Inc., Fleetwood RV Inc. and Monaco RV Inc. Forest River Inc./Coachmen had a 21.5% market share year-to-date through April to Winnebago’s 19.5%.
However, the change at the top won’t necessarily be recognized by SSI.
“Forest River has requested that these companies remain separate in our reports,” Tom Walworth, SSI president, told RVBUSINESS.com. “This is not unusual in that we have done this in the past for other companies.”
Will SSI consider combining them at some future date as well, or do you prefer to keep them separate?
“This would be up to Forest River; in some cases it would cause problems to the dealer body. If Forest River has a dealer in the area and a Coachmen dealer in the area, they will compete with each other. If you put them under the same parent company, there may be state franchise laws that would not allow this. This would be similar to the auto side of the business that Chevy and Buick having separate Identify.”
Walworth said in the final analysis, it’s “up to the parent company to decide how they would like to treat this. I do not think that Forest River is driven on market share; they would monitor the improvement in market share as a sign of improvement for a brand or a division. In the motorhome industry there are rental contracts that will spike the market share of a manufacturer from time to time; since we do not track rentals, it would be difficult to identify this. You would want to monitor the year-to-date number to see if this will hold in the future months.”
Good Day New York hosts Rosanna Scotto and Greg Kelly talked live with David Woodworth about RVing on Monday (April 19) on MYFOX New York.
The show’s hosts were impressed with the Fleetwood Discovery motorhome, with Kelly saying, “this is for a rock band!” Woodworth added, “I’d put this up against most flats in New York.”
The segment concluded with a montage of photographs of antique RVs from taken inside the RV/MH Hall of Fame and Museum in Elkhart, Ind.
Click here to watch the broadcast.
Fleetwood RV Inc., a leading producer of Class A and Class C recreational vehicles, will launch several new products and innovations during its “The Legacy Rolls On” product launch event at the 47th Annual National RV Trade Show in Louisville, Ky. on Tuesday (Dec. 1).
The event, which focuses on Fleetwood’s 60-year legacy of building innovative products backed by an industry-leading warranty, will take place in Fleetwood’s display at 11 a.m. EST.
New features and innovations that will be on display include:
- The first 45-foot quad-slide, side-aisle floor plan on the American Tradition Class A diesel brand (45Y).
- A 40-foot full-wall-slide floorplan featuring full-tile and residential refrigerator on the popular Discovery Class A diesel brand (40G).
- A 35-foot premium edition Fiesta with full body paint, chrome luggage doors, Corian countertops and halogen lighting (34B).
- A 29-foot floorplan with wrap-around dinette and full-body paint on the value-priced Tioga Ranger Class C motorhome (28Y).
In addition, Fleetwood will be unveiling its new 2010 Encounter crossover motorhome, which features the sleeping capacity and value of a Class C motorhome along with the space and storage capacity of a Class A motor home.
“Everything we will have on display this week are testament to the hard work and dedication of the entire Fleetwood RV team,” said John Draheim, president and COO of Fleetwood RV Inc. “From the very the beginning, we have sought out dealer and customer feedback on our entire motorhome line-up, and in just four short months we have developed the products, features, floor plans, and innovations that they wanted.”
For more information on all Fleetwood RV products, call (800) 322-8216 or visit www.fleetwoodrv.com.
American Coach, the luxury motor home division of Fleetwood RV Inc., today announced it retailed its first VIP factory delivery – an optional service available to all American Coach customers – since American Industrial Partners Inc. (AIP) acquired the company in July.
VIP factory delivery is unique in that customers take delivery of their new American Coach model where it was built, and to learn how to operate it with a factory representative.
“The American Coach VIP factory delivery is one of the many ways we try to make our customers feel special,” said John Draheim, Fleetwood RV president. “It creates an opportunity for us to personally connect with our customers, as well as helps us ensure their complete satisfaction before they hit the road.”
“Customers who select our VIP factory delivery option have the unique chance to see where their coaches are made and to meet the people that helped build them,” said Justin Humphreys, national sales director for American Coach and Revolution LE. “Everyone who is involved in the production of our American Coach line of luxury motor homes has a tremendous sense of pride about what they do, and who better to take a customer through their new coach then someone who had a hand in its construction.”
Customers John and Pat Goodwin selected the VIP factory delivery option when they purchased their second American Coach – a 2009 American Tradition 42M, from Tom Johnson Camping Center in Concord, N.C.
“We are extremely pleased with our VIP delivery experience,” said Pat Goodwin. “The American Coach delivery team brought an attention to detail and an incredible knowledge of the product which made our delivery the best we have ever had. We left Decatur feeling confident and excited about our beautiful new coach, and with peace of mind in having American Coach’s legendary service standing behind us. We would highly recommend the American Coach VIP option.”
Employees at the Fleetwood RV manufacturing plant in Decatur, Ind., say the company has asked them to re-apply for their jobs.
Company officials say they “will not confirm, or deny” the move, according the Indiana News Center, a central Indiana news aggregator.
A U.S. bankruptcy court gave Fleetwood the green light to sell $53 million in motorhome assets to New York City-based American Industrial Partners.
That purchase includes two manufacturing facilities, two service centers and Fleetwood’s “Gold Shield” supply unit, all located in Decatur.
Fleetwood spokesmen were unavailable for comment to RVBusiness.