March '17

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10 • RV PRO • March 2017 rv-pro.com N owhere in the RV industry has there been more jostling for market share leadership over the past five years than in the Class B segment. For 25 consecutive years, Kitchener, Ontar- io-based Roadtrek dominated the Class B business. As recently as April 2011, Roadtrek owned 50.8 percent of the U.S. market with fellow Canadian builder Pleasure-Way Industries a distant second at 26.2 percent. U.S.-based builders lagged well back. But 2011 also was the year Winnebago Indus- tries, with its vast distribution chain, entered the Class B market and the market began a seismic change (see Figure 1A on page 11), as Baby Boomers downsized from larger RVs. In April 2015, Winnebago reported a 30.6 percent Class B market share and in so doing wrestled B leadership away from Roadtrek and held onto it, ending that year with a 33.9 percent share. Winnebago matched that same percentage through last November. The Erwin Hymer Group North America (EHGNA), the new owner of Roadtrek, is making a concerted effort to regain the lead, as Thor Indus- tries stands a solid third and Pleasure-Way holds onto fourth (see Figure 1B on page 11) Perhaps not coincidentally, since Winnebago entered the market in 2011, retail sales for Class B's have doubled (see Figure 2 on page 16). Year-end figures for 2016 weren't available when this issue of RV PRO went to press, but through November, retailers for the nine active builders of Class B's reported 3,224 retail sales, compared with 1,770 in all of 2012. Even without the final numbers in, Statistical Surveys says 2016 ended up being the best year for Class B sales since the firm began reporting B sales in 2007. The RV Industry Association's shipment figures for 2016 show similar explosive growth. Manu- facturers shipped 4,087 Class B units in 2016, an increase of 24.1 percent over 2015 – second only to the percentage of growth in Class C units. Although Stat Surveys doesn't do forecasting, Richard Curtin of the University of Michigan With demand for camper vans growing since the end of the Great Recession, U.S. RV makers have overtaken their Canadian brethren in producing Class B's. HEATS UP R V M A N U F A C T U R E R S By Steve Bibler Class B Market Midwest Automotive Designs is seeing growing demand for its Weekender and Daycruiser Class B motorhomes built on the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter chassis.

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