December '15

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20 • RV PRO • DECEMBER 2015 rv-pro.com T he North American truck camper could be called the "Rodney Dangerfield of the RV industry" – because it receives so little respect or media attention. Part of the issue may have to do with the fact that no one seems to have a handle on the size of the truck camper market. Only the RV Industry Association, which tracks wholesale RV shipments, monitors the ebb and flow of this niche product nationally. However, even RVIA's counting is suspect, given that it represents less than a third of the truck camper manufacturers (six of 22 manufacturers are RVIA members), so its monthly shipment reports based on seal sales to members are incomplete. According to RVIA data, truck campers hit their golden era in 1995, when RVIA- member shipments reached 12,086 units (see Figure 1). Shipments have rebounded somewhat since bottoming out at 1,900 in 2009, but remain nowhere near the 1995 tally. Based on research by University of Michigan economist Richard Curtin, RVIA projects year-end 2015 RVIA-member ship- ments will reach 3,100 units, with a slight decline to 3,000 units in 2016 (see Figure 2). Still, no matter its size, the truck camper niche has a dedicated following. "People who buy a truck camper have something specific in mind. They're not buying a truck camper to go RVing, per se," says Gordon White, publisher of Truck Camper Magazine, an online publication with a readership of more than 30,000. CONUNDRUM Truck camper shipments and sales are extremely hard to track, but there's no doubting the market segment has a dedicated following. By Steve Bibler The Truck Camper

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