May '16

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72 • RV PRO • MAY 2016 rv-pro.com A sk an avid RVer who regularly tows a heavy trailer over moun- tain passes, or even one trying to safely pass a road-hogging semi-truck in heavy traffic, and most would tell you that having a bit more muscle under the hood would make a world of difference. Now such an improvement in oomph, along with a bonus gain in MPH, doesn't require upgrading a vehicle or even to a more powerful engine. In fact, a product segment that has long been cherished in the performance automotive world is making a resurgence among RVers and other power- seeking, heavy-hauling pickup owners. That emerging product segment is, of course, performance tuners, programmers and monitors, and they provide a remark- able value proposition to RV dealers and customers. These tiny dynamos offer more power, increased fuel efficiency and a variety of other performance improvements with shockingly little effort or investment by RV dealers or their customers. According to Chris Boyd, an avid RVer and dealer accounts manager for Amer- ican Falls, Idaho-based Bully Dog, more and more customers in the RV market are seeking out performance tuners and engine programmers to improve their experience on the road. "I used to be a dealer in Camping World and still do quite a bit of RVing myself," he says. "I can tell you from experience that if you're towing substantial weight, these products are almost a 'must-have' item. In the past, tuners and programmers were viewed as a racing product. Now people are starting to realize that these products were actually made with the towing customer in mind, and we're seeing great traction at RV-related trade shows because of it." Beyond just improvements in horse- power and efficiency, Matt Barker, cate- gory manager for Superchips in Ogden, Utah, says that other performance attri- butes – such as improved transmission shifting under heavy load scenarios – also are driving customer and dealer demand. "We have seen this demand pick up as we've investigated the new markets asso- ciated with RVs and trailers," he says, noting that Superchips biggest product line is a handheld tuner called Flashpaq. The newly redesigned Flashpaq F5 features separate "tunes" for economy, towing and performance. "The tuning that programmers can pro- vide is an easy revenue stream for dealers. Many customers already look for these tuning solutions in the market and those who don't already could easily be swayed into looking for these products if they understood what makes it valuable for their uses." John Espino of Gale Banks Engineering, Azusa, Calif., notes that for all the potential power and performance gains, one of the simplest reasons why these products have become a hit for RV dealers is obvious: Size and simplicity. "Programmers and tuners take up very PERFORMANCE Simple to install and capable of producing performance and efficiency gains, performance tuners, programmers and monitors for towing vehicles offer a powerful profit opportunity for RV dealers and service shops. By Jake Rishavy Tuning Up Towing PHOTOS COURTESY OF BULLY DOG, DIABLOSPORT, EDGE SUPERCHIPS AND GALE BANKS Performance tuners, programmers and monitors offer RVers who tow fifth wheels and travel trailers some extra oomph without having to upgrade their pickup truck. Selling those products can be a nice profit center for dealerships and service shops.

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