June '17

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84 • RV PRO • June 2017 rv-pro.com B U S I N E S S tems tied to the cab and chassis, Chinook will attempt to inte- grate On-Star-style notifica- tions into its Class B-plus line. Oil changes, low tires, trans- mission service, recall notices. "It's one of the things we're trying to tie into it," Rizzio says. Meanwhile, RV manufac- turing newcomer Grand Coach also is embracing Retro 2.0 by reviving the Dolphin brand. Granted, the first 30 days of production have been chal- lenging, says CEO Darryl Con- nors. The EPA put restrictions on the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter chassis, on which the Dolphin is built. Slight delays aside, Grand Coach managed to produce five Class B's in April with more planned for the year. Each will later be equipped with new, innovative lithium-ion batteries and tap-to-bottled-water systems for dry-camping, both appliances of which will be exclusive to Grand Coach. Later, the manufacturer's lineup will include the Sea View and Cape Cod. But Connors can't really explain the resurging interest in Class B motorhomes. "We looked at the recent data in trends in the Class B motorhome business," he says, "and I don't know if it's people downsizing, but it's really picked up – I think because you've got some value propositions like the Dodge ProMaster chassis, which is considerably less money." The same goes for the Ford Transit. Also betting on the revival of the Class B market is the Wayne Davis Auto Group, which in March introduced its 2017 Regency RV lineup of Concept One Class B motorhomes built on the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter chassis. Dymon Farrer, Regency RV's national sales manager, notes that Class B sales increased by 53 percent in the month of February. "They're up huge," he says. "The Sprinter chassis has had a lot to do with that and diesel. These guys get upward of 20 miles a gallon." "I think it's because people are downsizing from bigger homes to smaller homes or condos," adds Grand Coach's Connors. "I think you're seeing people that are older that want something smaller – a little easier to drive." The Baby Boomers, he says, perhaps make the switch because of brand recognition, while the Millennials may be drawn more to Class B's given its mid-luxury appeal without the long-term commitment tied with larger motorhomes. But will the production level surpass the Class B days of yore? It's hard to say for sure. Farrer, of Regency RV, intends to hand-manufacture one motorhome a day versus the late 1990s, when the company produced hundreds of them per month. "This company doesn't want to be the largest again," he says. "They've done that at one point." Variety, however, remains the spice of life. Regency, which, in line with its unorthodox approach to manufacturing is based in Fort Worth, Texas, revealed its fourth floorplan for its B line in April that includes a sofa across the back. The RV maker intends to expand, next building on a cutaway chassis slated for an unveiling at the RVIA trade show in November. "It's a continuous process," Farrer says, "adding items as the market deems necessary to have." This dictation is perhaps why REV Group acquired Midwest Automotive Designs, giving REV a presence for the first time in the Class B market. In an April press release following the acquisition for an undisclosed price, Midwest President Tim Gray made it clear that the RV maker will be growing its luxury vehicle lines – Class B's included – in a swift manner. "One of our key strengths," he said, "is our ability to rapidly design, engineer, and commercialize new products. … We are excited to tap into REV's technical resources and nationwide dealership footprint." The recent developments from REV Group, Regency, Grand Coach, and Chinook further support this sudden shift to Class B motorhomes, luxurious and retro and equipped with 21st Century upgrades. F&I Evolving to Meet the Demand The booming industry is creating a new league of RVers. To prepare for the increasing population of RVers both tradi- tional (Baby Boomers) and unexpected (Millennials), bankers are taking new strives to support end users' wonts and dreams. Ed Arienti has been involved with RV financing for decades. He has begun helping dealers with customers who wouldn't normally receive financing through Newcoast Financial Services. "I've always had conversations with dealers about being Regency RV believes it can compete in the Class B market thanks in part to the fact the RV maker's skilled workforce does the motorhomes' upholstery and cabinetry in-house.

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