Kurt Verlin
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RV Shipments Down in March — Except for One Type of Motorhome

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March 2020 RV shipments saw only improvements from camper vans
Photo: Alex Plesovskich via Unsplash

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is being felt throughout the automotive industry, and recreational vehicles are no exception. Even though RVs make for effective mobile quarantine units and testing facilities, this wasn’t enough to offset the overall reduced demand and keep RV shipments from declining.

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According to the RV Industry Association, RV shipments in March 2020 totaled 30,288 units, down 20.3 percent from the 38,015 units shipped in March 2019.

This is the first time in 2020 that RV shipments decline year-to-year. The RVIA had reported an increase of about 700 total RV units shipped in February, and an increase of over 7,000 units in January.

Towables made up the majority of shipments with 27,723 units, which was down 17.9 percent compared to March of last year. They were led by travel trailers, which made up nearly 85 percent of all RV shipments last month.

Motorhomes finished the month with 2,565 units shipped, down nearly 40 percent over the 4,261 units that were shipped a year ago. And finally, Park Model RVs were down 12.9 percent.

But there was a type of motorhome that was unique among all recreational vehicles in March: van campers. These usually sell in low volumes, but with 377 units shipped, they were up an impressive 121.8 percent compared to March 2019. This would be notable in regular times, but even more so during a pandemic ensuring that almost no one is going out and buying motor vehicles.

It’s not entirely clear what drove people to buy more van campers last month than they had over the same period last year, but it wouldn’t be surprising if COVID-19 had something to do with it. Van campers are affordable, easier to drive compared to most RVs, and as previously mentioned, make for great mobile quarantine units.

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