US RV manufacturers enjoying best year since 2006
In 2015, RV shipments from manufacturers to dealers in the US hit the a total not seen 2006 according to the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA). That's a 4.9% year-over-year increase to 374,246 units, including a 7.6% jump in motorhomes and a 4.5% rise in towables. Sales from dealers to end users increased by 13 percent over the same time period.
Reasons for the improvement include a better economy, lower fuel prices, lower interest rates and lower inflation. Fuel appears to be a much more significant factor in choosing to buy a large vehicle in the US than it is Europe - even though fuel prices in America are at least half what they are on the other side of the Atlantic.
The average RV buyer will be recently retired or planning retirement. If still in work, income will be around USD75,000 per year. Around half need some sort of finacing for their purchase.
Nonetheless there are increasing amount of forty year olds on the road and more and more younger people are opting for this lifestyle too.
Whereas RV manufacturers are comparitively small companies, their success in the financial markets is seen as a reflection of the economy as a whole.
Thor Industries has about a dozen RV brand names in its portfolio. It success has been in consolidating smaller manufacturers into a large one. It saw per-share profit in Q2 2016 rise 51% to 86 cents a share on 14% revenue growth to USD975.1m. Executive Chairman Peter Orthwein said that 2016 showed the best Q1 since the company began. The strongest growth has been in motorhomes which have seen sales increase by well over one third. Towables, which make up for around 75 percent of Thor's income, increased by three percent.
Winnebago is not doing so well as Thor as revenue declined over the past year although based on current trends sales are likely to increase.
Equipment suppliers to the industry are also doing well. Growth in RV sales is good news for those supplying things such as aluminium profiles, solar panels, generators and the like. Today around sixty percent of RV are equipped with solar panels, only ten years ago solar panels were a rarity.
The RVIA has forecast shipments rising 2% to 381,100 units in 2016, which is much less than the gain shown in 2015 but it is still going up!