Northern Indiana has long been a major hub of RV manufacturing in the U.S. and a new forecast shows that this year may be one of the best for the sector in recent years.
According to the latest forecast from the RV Industry Association, it’s expected that the region will produce and ship 580,000 vehicles this year. This would be a 34% increase compared to 2020, and a 14% increase over the previous highest mark in 2017.
RV Industry Association President Craig Kirby said that he believes the production uptick is due to the increasing amount of people turning to outdoor activities since the Covid-19 pandemic began last year. “The demand from these new RV owners, as well as our returning customers, is driving the increased RV production we will continue to see through the remainder of 2021 and into 2022,” Kirby said.
Another factor is the increasing amount of Covid-19 vaccinations across the country. With more and more of the population being vaccinated, many people who delayed their road trip plans last year are more confident in making their trips now.
The RV manufacturing and supply sector employs thousands of people in Northern Indiana, especially in Elkhart County. The past recession hit the area hard, such as in 2009, where the area only had 165,000 shipped vehicles among a staggering 20% county-wide unemployment rate. Now, the county has an unemployment rate of just 2.9%, compared to the state-wide rate of 4.1%.
While the current numbers show a resounding comeback for the industry, future projections are much more conservative. The RV Industry Association expects that the area will see 4% growth in 2021 to reach around 600,000 vehicles. According to the association, supply chain issues and potentially rising interest rates could both limit the industry’s room for growth.