Click here to see the first monthly video market update released on April 1, courtesy of Black Book, focusing on the speciality vehicle market, including RVs. The videos are posted on Black Book’s homepage. A transcript of the portion focusing on RVs follows.
The RV market is making a major recovery from the economic crisis from 2008. New and used RV sales plummeted even more than the auto industry during the past few years. The sales at special RV auctions continue to show strength as the one- to four- year-old models are great alternatives to new. As Eric Lawrence, the editor of the quarterly updated, electronic-delivered RV Guide has been tracking the market he commented: “There is a lot of pent up demand out there. For the last several years, consumers have been holding back on big ticket items. Many felt that the economy was too shaky to make a long term financial commitment, but the economy seems to have leveled off and is showing some signs of health, so consumers are starting to break out their checkbooks again and are buying some of the luxury type items that they had been holding off on.”
Wholesale shipments to dealers of all RVs were reported at 19,800 units in February’s survey of manufacturers, down 1.5% from February 2010, the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) has reported.
Towable shipments totaled 17,700, down 2.2% from a year ago, while motorized shipments totaled 2,100, up 5% from a year ago.
For the first two months of 2011, shipments of all RVs were 37,600 units, a gain of 4.7% compared to the first two months last year. Towable shipments totaled 33,500, up 3.4% from the 2010 pace, while motorized shipments totaled 4,100, up 17.1%.
On a seasonally adjusted basis, all RV shipments in February this year were at an annualized rate of 227,600 units, up slightly from last month.
By segment, February shipments, followed by percentage change from February 2010, were as follows:
- Travel trailers, 11,800, off 1.7%.
- Fifth-wheels, 4,800, up 4.3%.
- Folding camping trailers, 1,000, down 16.7%.
- Truck campers, 100, down 66.7%.
- Class A motorhomes, 1,100, up 10%.
- Class B motorhomes, 200, flat.
- Class C motorhomes, 800, flat.
For the first two months of 2011, shipments, followed by percentage changes from 2010, were as follows:
- Travel trailers, 22,200, up 3.3%.
- Fifth-wheels, 9,100, up 12.3%.
- Folding camping trailers, 1,900, down 17.4%.
- Truck campers, 300, down 40%.
- Class A motorhomes, 2,200, up 15.8%.
- Class B motorhomes, 300, flat.
- Class C motorhomes, 1,600, up 23.1%.
Se chart below for complete data.
RVers in the market for a new model RV are in luck. The new RV Buyers Guide 2011 from Trailer Life and Woodall’s has been published.
The 176-page directory lists more than 400 motorhomes, travel trailers, fifth-wheels, truck campers, folding camping trailers and sport utility recreational vehicles, according to a news release.
Each RV’s profile includes information about construction features, dimensions, popular options, RV weights and towing capacities, standard features, engines on powered RVs, and available options, all of which help buyers compare models from different manufacturers. Floorplans and warranty information are also included.
The guide costs $7.99 and is available from its publishers, at some newsstands and at RVbookstore.com.
Is the electric car charging station of the future a motorhome?
It could be in some circumstances, speculated Luis Ramirez, CEO of the Industrial Solutions Group at General Electric. Ramirez recently met with some consumers and customer groups in Oregon, and some asked whether it would be possible to use the engine of an RV to charge an electric vehicle (EV), U.S. Solar Market Insight reported. RV drivers often tow cars behind them as they travel on down the road. Coming up with a charging system for RVs would help open a niche market. Technically, it’s not impossible.
Ramirez and other GE executives are in the middle of a road trip to promote products such as the WattStation charging station and to create awareness about some of the issues that will face companies when EVs begin to hit the road in large numbers. It wasn’t your usual Silicon Valley audience. Instead of investors and job seekers, most of the attendees were executives from parking lot companies, some AAA representatives and many electricians — in other words, the people that are actually going to make this happen.
Navistar International Corp. is taking part in the tour.
Theft and security could become a problem for public charging stations. “There is a lot of copper in a charging station. We do have to worry about security,” said Ramirez.
In Europe, security is less of a problem because charging stations will have cables; drivers will be required to carry their own connections. The U.S. took a different approach. It lightens the load in a car, but it creates a potentially attractive target for those out there intent on stealing wire, manhole covers and other metal objects during this current commodity boom.
Speaking of commodity metals, scientists in GE labs are also working on electric motors that don’t require rare earth metals and use nonmetallic heat sinks. This is a significant development because rare earth materials like neodymium oxide have zoomed from $20,000 a ton in 2009 to $165,000 a ton this month according to my own spot check today.
Direct current is going to take off, Ramirez added. While the grid delivers AC power, distributing and using DC power within microgrids, datacenters or office buildings could help conserve energy by reducing the number of conversions power must undergo before it gets used. The conversions occur because most electrical equipment — batteries, motors, computers — actually run on DC. In a typical data center, power might get converted five times before it can be used to run servers; in a DC data center, the conversions can be reduced to one. Fewer conversions, fewer losses.
Back in December, Ramirez oversaw the $520 million acquisition of Lineage Power Holdings , which makes equipment for efficient AC-DC and DC-DC conversions. Other companies in this space include Validus DC Systems and Nextek Power Systems.
“With the right conversion architecture, you can bring efficiency to the 92-95% level,” he said, “DC architectures also use a lot less metal.”
One potential application: mining operations. Many remote mines have been completely automated with robotic trucks hauling dirt from deep inside the earth. Crushing rocks in mining operations alone accounts for 7% of the world’s energy consumption, he said. Switching to DC could help bring that number down.
One area, however, where DC will need some work is in high-speed charging stations. High-speed, or Level 3, charging is far faster than conventional charging and it relies on DC power. High speed charging, however, can accelerate the aging process in batteries. Research in this area is ongoing.
Consumers will likely have to drive the EV market, said Clarence Dunn, CEO of GE Fleet. (GE Fleet oversees its own fleet of 30,000 cars but also finances and manages fleets for others.) While fleet owners are interested in going electric, the price will have to come down through volume manufacturing before many fleet owners budge. And the only way to build volume will be with the consumer market.
Car companies are going to have to pay particular attention to the needs of the fleet buyers. Plug-in hybrids, particularly those retrofitted hybrids with lots of batteries in the trunk, are a difficult sell to companies with sales fleets. The trunk takes up the space the reps need for sample cases and other equipment.
GE, which wants to electrify half of its fleet by 2015, has to plan accordingly, as well. The average GE sales representative drives 85 miles a day. Ergo, a fully electric vehicle may not work for them, although a series hybrid like the Chevy Volt might be sufficient. Similarly, many in GE Health drive vans: not a great combo yet for batteries.
So far, pharmaceutical companies appear to be the first movers when it comes to electrifying fleets.
Battery swapping, the secondary market for batteries and other issues are hurdles the car industry and financing industry are going to have to overcome. “I do not want to finance a battery. That does not work for me,” Dunn said, or at least it doesn’t yet. If car companies can begin to prove that a battery will have an active life in a car for five years and that utilities will in fact buy partially depleted batteries for grid storage, bring on the documents.
The demographics of EV buyers do present some problems for utilities, said Matt Lecar, who oversees smart grid strategy at GE Energy. In California, a lot of the early buyers will live in Berkeley and San Francisco, where the grid is old and the power capacity for individual houses is somewhat low.
“I am sure if PG&E had their druthers, Fresno and Bakersfield would be the early adopters,” he said, because homes there already have mondo circuits to handle air conditioning capacity.
Today’s Video #2 and the story below come courtesy of WALA-TV, Mobile, Ala.
Nearly 200 campers pack RV City in Mobile, Ala. It’s a Mardi Gras tradition that draws in new people each year.
RV City in Mobile is as much a part of Mardi Gras as the beads.
But what is it that keeps people coming back year after year?
Nestled under the Water Street overpass, in the shadow of the city skyline sits RV City.
Rows and rows of vehicles are packed in like sardines for the carnival season.
Rob Vereen has been coming for three-years.
Every Mardi Gras he drives over from Spanish Fort and sets up shop.
“It’s wild, it’s crazy, like a big party. Like Talladega for a month,” said Vereen.
Camping here isn’t cheap. Vereen said he paid about $500 for his spot. And seeing that the lot is nearly full, that is a lot of money. But most agree it is worth the price.
Darrin Oshea said this is the place to be during Mardi Gras.
“Right now everybody is sleeping. Everyone was up into 2:00 a.m. partying it was wild,” said Darrin Oshea. “There is a DJ too.”
Oshea is an RV City rookie so is Diane Neal.
She’s always wanted to experience Mardi Gras here and so she talked her husband into it.
Neal said it has been worth it.
And with Fat Tuesday still to go, the fun is far from over.
Close to 200 campers signed up to move in under the Water Street overpass during Mardi Gras.
Watch today’s Video #2, courtesy of CNN News, about a group of RVers who believe Jesus Christ will return on May 21 and have taken to the road in their RVs to promote the expected event. Click here to read CNN’s story about the subject.
The Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) applauds this week’s relaunch of the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Dealer Floor Plan (DFP) Pilot Loan Program for the improvements the new effort includes to increase access to inventory financing for RV dealers.
“The relaunched program includes significant enhancements over the original program that RVIA and the RV industry pushed to have included — the new maximum loan size of $5 million, the ability for RV dealers with a higher net worth of up to $15 million to participate, and the extension of the program to three years,” RVIA President Richard Coon stated in a news release. “We are hopeful these changes will remove key barriers to lender participation, thereby attracting more lending sources and providing RV dealers with additional floorplan opportunities.”
The Small Business Jobs Act of 2010 included a provision for relaunching SBA’s Dealer Floor Plan (DFP) Pilot program, which first became available in July 2009. The pilot is part of the SBA’s overall 7(a) loan guaranty program. Key provisions of the relaunched program which RV dealers and lenders may use starting Wednesday (Feb. 9) include:
- A loan amount between $500,000 and $5 million (previously limited to $2 million), for a term of not more than five years.
- A new size standard allowing larger businesses to qualify as a small business under the new DFP, as follows: the maximum tangible net worth of the business cannot exceed $15 million; and, the average net income after federal taxes (excluding carry-over losses) for the two full fiscal years prior to the date of the application for DFP is not more than $5 million.
- An advance rate of up to 100%of the value of the goods to be purchased may be offered by lenders.
- An SBA guaranty of 75% on floorplan lines of credit. In the original DFP, the guaranty for RVs, boats and manufactured homes had been 60%, while autos had the 75% rate. Now, all have the 75% guaranty.
- In addition to the acquisition of titleable inventory for retail sales, loan proceeds can now also be used to refinance existing floorplan lines of credit with another lender or to refinance/replace existing floorplan lines of credit with the same lender.
- An extension of the DFP program to Sept. 30, 2013 (was Sept. 30, 2010).
- A floorplan lender with at least $1 billion in floorplan lines of credit in its current portfolio may qualify for delegated authority under the new DFP Pilot, which will expedite the loan approval process for small business owners and allows more autonomy for lenders. Delegated floorplan lenders can use SBA Express forms and utilize their own policies, procedures, internal controls and documentation.
- “Eligible retail goods” that can be purchased under the new DFP are still automobiles, recreational vehicles, boats, and manufactured homes which can be titled under state law.
“This is the second generation of the SBA DFP Pilot Program,” said Dianne Farrell, RVIA’s vice president of government affairs. “In speaking with SBA staff, they are confident that the enhancements better meet the needs of the banking community and will lead to more floorplan financing options being available to dealerships, which are the cornerstone of many local business communities.”
A coalition of trade associations, including RVIA, the Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA), marine, auto, trailer and manufactured housing dealers and manufacturers worked to ensure the new DFP program contained these improvements.
The rules and regulations for the pilot are now available on the website of The Federal Register, and in print editions. A procedural guide to the program will be posted on the SBA website at: http://www.sba.gov/content/dealer-floor-plan-financing-program-0.
Borrowers interested in obtaining a DFP loan should contact their lender or their nearest SBA field office to get a list of SBA-approved lenders in their area who may be participating in the program. Local district offices and contact information, as well as information on this and other SBA programs and resources, can be found at www.sba.gov or by calling the SBA Answer Desk at (800) U-ASK-SBA or TDD (704) 344-6640.
The numbers are in for the 26th Annual Fort Myers RV Show and both dealer and vendor participants came away smiling as the event drew 12,500 patrons over the show’s four days, according to a news release. The show was sponsored by Region 1 of the Florida RV Trade Association (FRVTA).
“Just about everyone I spoke with at the show was very pleased with the buying interest the public had,” said FRVTA Region 1 President Nelda Iacono. “In fact, we had several dealers who achieved double-digit sales. All dealers came away with lots of sales leads they can now follow up over the coming weeks.”
While not an attendance record, Show Manager Jack Carver was gratified the public responded so positively, especially following the economic turmoil the industry suffered over the previous years. “We worked hard to put on a quality show that created a buying situation for all participants, and I guess we did that,” he said.
This year’s annual event featured 16 dealers displaying well over 600 new RV units of all types, styles and price ranges. The show also staged 100 vendors selling everything from lots at RV resorts to engine upgrades and other enhancements for the RV lifestyle.
“Everyone seemed to be selling whatever they brought,” exclaimed Show Chairman Chris Morse, “I’m still busy with traffic and additional sales a week after the show.”
This year’s show success continues the Fort Myers RV Show’s distinction as one of the largest RV events in the Southeast, Iacono pointed out. “We are proud to offer dealers, vendors and patrons the best the RV Industry has to offer and look forward to helping spread consumer interest in the RV lifestyle,” she explained.
The near-final National Park Service figures on park visits during 2010 show both positive and negative results.
Visitation at many of the iconic parks increased over 2009, reported Derrick A. Crandall, president of the American Recreation Coalition. “Yet the system overall, despite fee-free weekends, publicity generated by the rebroadcast of the Ken Burns’ PBS special and the visit to Yosemite by Oprah and a jump in international visitors to the U.S., showed a decline of about 2% in visitations (some 5.8 million fewer visits to a total of about 280 million) and a 2.7% drop in visitor hours,” he said.
The report also showed a 1.5% drop in concessioner lodging use between 2009 and 2010. National Park visitations remain well below levels of the late 1980s, despite a U.S. population increase of over 25%.
On the plus side, RV visits were up about 5% over 2009, and visitation to many of the best-known national parks, most with significant concessioner services, rose in 2010.
Key parks with increases include:
- Yellowstone, 10.5%.
- Yosemite, 4.7%.
- Grand Teton, 4%.
- Grand Canyon, 1%.
- Glen Canyon, 8.4%.
- Acadia, 12.4%.
- Glacier, 9.6%.
Among the most significant declines in units with concessioners were:
- Blue Ridge Parkway, 9%.
- Golden Gate NRA, 7.6%.
- Gateway NRA, 4%.
Meanwhile, RV visits to the nation’s national parks totaled 2,258,903, up 5.06% over the 2,150,170 RVers who visited in 2009..
The Family Motor Coach Association (FMCA) Western Motor Home Association rally at the Riverside County Fairgrounds in Indio, Calif., was the backdrop for release of the 11th edition of “Big Rigs Best Bets.”
Both the 498-page spiral bound large print copy and the innovative web-based online version were on display at their booths. According to Ken and Ellie Hamill, co-authors, the 23rd annual Western Area Rally was “the logical choice” because of the heavy concentration of RVs which congregate in the area at this time of year, according to a news release.
As Hamill related, “The rally attendees, coupled with the guests at nearby resorts, are the core of the segment of the RV market which we serve. Not only do these coach owners tend to have the most discretionary income for RV related products, they tend to travel greater distances and for a longer period of time.”
They were particularly delighted to discover the online version is compatible with all computers, tablets and smart phone mobile devices as Hamill demonstrated the easy navigation of the book on the Apple I-Pad, he stated.
“Real time changes in the content of the online version throughout the course of the year is a real bonus for our reader base,” stated Hamill. “An added benefit to our advertisers is they now have a resource to reach out to our online membership base with improvements and changes to their facility throughout the course of the year rather than waiting for the next annual print copy.”
- A blend of 1,200 upscale resorts, overnight stays along the interstate, destination parks and suitable public parks.
- Each park listing includes specific site numbers and the various lengths of these preferred sites along with other park details, including Wi-Fi.
- Detailed ” dead on ” directions from an RVer’s point of view. Physical addresses for GPS users are also noted.
- 532 paved and maneuverable fuel stops. For your convenience the online version has links to gasbuddy.com
- 244 notable restaurant tips.
Big Rigs Best Bets has been serving the RV community since 2001.
Learn more at www.big-rigs-rv.com.