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August 8, 2014

US: Ford boosts motorhome chassis production

Ford has boosted US production of Class A motorhome chassis and introduced new options in response to growing consumer confidence and demand for recreational vehicles.

Ford has boosted US production of Class A motorhome chassis and introduced new options in response to growing consumer confidence and demand for recreational vehicles.

Motorhome sales were up 13% year to date to the end of May, according to Statistical Surveys. Sales of Class A motorhomes – the largest and most luxurious on the road – were up 12%.

Sales of smaller van cutaway-based Class C motorhomes were up 14% in the same period.

“Motorhome sales are cyclical, and correlate with improving economic performance,” said Ford sales analyst Erich Merkle. “Like boats, homes and luxury cars, motorhomes – especially Class A – are big-ticket items, so when we see a continued upward trend in sales, it means people have far greater confidence to make a large, discretionary purchase.”

Ford claims to lead both the Class A and Class C motorhome chassis markets with a 63% share of the Class A market and 72% share in Class C chassis year to date May, according to Statistical Surveys.

Ford increased production of its F-53 and F-59 stripped chassis used for Class A motorhomes and commercial vehicle applications, such as parcel delivery, by 33% in the first half of 2014 to meet growing demand.

“We believe we will see further growth as the industry continues to recover,” said Merkle. “Demographic drivers of this overall growth in the RV market include retiring baby boomers with more time for travel and leisure.”

Class A motorhomes are recreational vehicles built on a stripped truck chassis, where the driver’s area is part of the living area. Ford supplies frame rails, suspension, powertrain and steering components to Detroit Chassis for assembly into motorhome chassis for customers like Winnebago and Thor Motor Coach. Prices for complete motorhomes can exceed US$150,000.

Class C motorhomes are built on a cutaway chassis consisting of frame, suspension, powertrain and cab. The living area is accessible behind the driver’s compartment. These retail from $43,000 to $200,000, according to the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association. Ford’s E-Series cutaway is the top chassis choice in this market while the new Transit cutaway offers more options for lighter-weight chassis in Class C motorhomes.

The recent introduction of the Transit also gives customers additional choices for their Class B motorhome.

Commonly called as ‘camper vans’, Class B motorhomes are built using OEM vans or panel trucks. They drive like a van, and retail for between $60,000 and $130,000, according to the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association. Ford said the Transit’s choice of three roof heights, two wheelbases and three powertrains gives customers the ability to customise their camper van cost-effectively, as choosing the high-roof model eliminates the need to raise the roof or drop the floor of a traditional van.

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