The RV industry recovery from the economic downturn will continue to build strength in 2013, as shipments are expected to rise to 289,900 — a 4.5% increase over the projected 2012 total of 277,300 units, Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) Vice President James Ashurst, standing in for President Richard Coon, told attendees today (Nov. 27) at “Outlook 2013: A Golden Opportunity,” the kick-off event to the 50th Annual National RV Trade Show in Louisville, Ky.

Addressing approximately 1,000 RV manufacturers, dealers and industry representatives on, Ashurst presented a positive outlook for the industry’s future, based on new projections from Richard Curtin, director of consumer surveys at the University of Michigan, in RVIA’s quarterly forecasting newsletter RV Roadsigns.

The rise in shipments to 277,300 units by year-end 2012 would be a nearly 10% gain (9.9%) over the 2010 total of 252,300 and include double digit gains in conventional travel trailers and Class A motorhomes. The expected increase in 2013 would mark three consecutive years of RV market growth.

“RV shipments are trending up,” Ashurst said. “We’ve had good crowds and strong business at fall shows, and demographics are in our favor. It is time to shine for the RV industry.”

According to the new forecast, most of the 2013 gain will come in conventional and fifth-wheel trailers and by type A motorhomes. Conventional and fifth-wheel trailers are expected to account for 86% of all RV shipments in 2013 — which would be an all-time high.

The continued strength in 2013 RV shipments is due to rising consumer confidence and improved economic conditions; however, a failure by America’s political leaders to bridge the “fiscal cliff” could significantly alter the industry’s fortunes in 2013, Ashurst cautioned.

“Our forecasts are affected by volatility in the economy,” Ashurst said. “If Congress and the President don’t act on the fiscal cliff before the end of the year, federal tax rates will rise, mandatory cuts in government spending go into effect, and the economy could go into recession.”

During his presentation, Ashurst walked the audience through RVIA’s 2013 projection for each of the major RV product types:

  • Travel trailers: up 5% to 180,200 units.
  • Fifth-wheel trailers: up 7% to 68,800 units.
  • Truck campers: up 3% to 3,500 units.
  • Folding camping trailers: down 17% to 9,000 units.
  • Class A motorhomes: up 8% to 15,400 units.
  • Class B motorhomes: up 10% to 2,300 units.
  • Class C motorhomes: down 2% to 10,700 units.

“We’ve had a good year in 2012 in terms of sales and in how we’ve been able to promote RVs to our core markets,” Ashurst said. “There’s a lot of versatility in the RV market — many products, price points and how they’re used. There is strong demand for RVs, and I am optimistic about our industry’s future.”