The jury’s in, so to speak, on the latest RVBusiness/Blue Ox Survey question, and industry respondents have returned their most lopsided decision to date on the question of whether the North American recreational vehicle industry, for a variety of reasons, should better coordinate its new model introductions.
A commanding 88% of those posting their opinions say they’d prefer a more coordinated new model introduction cycle – something more akin to the auto industry where new releases all debut in a relatively narrow window of time, most likely in the fall. Only 12% would prefer to see things stay the way they are, where new models debut virtually non-stop year-round, from April to April.
Here’s the essence of what people were telling us in the latest round of a periodic survey sponsored by Blue Ox, the Pender, Neb.-based RV industry supplier, and administered by RVBusiness and RVBUSINESS.com:
“For dealers in the north, model change happens in the middle of the spring show season. Hardly fair to be competing in an already tough market with perceived non-current inventory that the dealers carried all winter. August/September would be the best time for model change allowing for a structured retailing program year round and especially for dealing non-current models.” — Anonymous
“Follow more closely to what the U.S. auto industry does.” — Anonymous
“Credibility is lost when a manufacturer jumps a model year prior to a calendar year (Ex: 2013 models sold in 2011). The industry regulating the timing for model year change-over would be a great thing to add consumer confidence to an industry lacking notable guidance.” — Brad, Southern RV
“I would rather be selling 2013s instead of 2012s. Early introduction allows 20 months or more before your product becomes aged in the public’s mind. You can get more for the 2013 than your competitor across town selling a similar 2012 model. You have all spring and summer to get rid of your 2012s. Dealers who want to keep ordering 2012s all spring and summer have things bass-ackwards, In my opinion, if you should get overstocked in the spring and summer, better to be overstocked with 2013s!” — Lee Litchfield, Lee’s RV Superstore
“Having a consistent dated new model introduction would level the playing field for those that come out early to get an advantage. More importantly, dealers being mfg partners, would respond better and could plan consistent inventory and consistent purchasing without fear of what dealers will receive in when built. — Rob Reid, President, Great Lakes RV Center
“New model release dates are part of the marketing plan by the manufacturer and the manufacturer must decide in concert with his dealers what is best. If dealers don’t like the release dates by their manufacturing partner, then they should change brands.” — Anonymous
“I think it would be great if they could be on a coordinated approach so that our customers aren’t so confused about new models b/c new car models come out next month for the 2013 year, so why not something like that for trailers? It also messes up the values of the previous year model, even if it was built the same year, dealers don’t want to keep having to drop the price for ‘last year’s model’ because a new model came out two months later. They (the manufacturers) need to agree on a coordinated approach to improve the overall RV business as a whole, and I know quality is not the main topic here, but a lot of them are still building substandard units and customers can tell.” — Anonymous
“A more coordinated approach to new model introductions would make it easier on all parties involved. However, I seriously doubt that the process can be controlled and monitored to the point that all manufacturers would comply.” – Keith Griffin, Bison Coach, LLC, A Navistar Company
“It would be great if they would all follow one release date unfortunately it all boils down to the almighty dollar. If brand “X” can get their latest greatest out before Brand “A” then the dealers will use their floorplan money to buy brand “X” with none left for brand “A”. This is the same reason the mfg shows have started in Elkhart, IN two months before the Louisville show to try to get the dealers to use all their money so they don’t have anything to spend at Louisville.” — Anonymous
Look for a new RVB/Blue Ox Survey question — on foreign trade — early next week.