International to enter RV market

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With more than $14 billion in retail sales and more than 370,000 annual unit shipments last year, the RV industry was a large and virtually untapped market for International Truck and Engine Corp. — until now.

International, a Navistar company, is partnering with Conquest Motorhomes, a division of Gulf Stream Coach and one of the RV industry’s leading manufacturers, to make International the exclusive cab and chassis provider for all of its Class C diesel motorhomes. The Super Nova model from Gulf Stream Coach is one of two RV models that now will use the International DuraStar chassis.

“This partnership is a tremendous growth opportunity for us,” says Steve Guillaume, general manager of the medium-truck division for Warrenville, Ill.-based International. “The Class C motorhome market represents a substantial portion of a growing industry — approximately 33 percent of the total motorized RV market. Once again, International is challenging convention, as this is a great opportunity to leverage the scale of our core business and generate growth outside of the commercial trucking sector.”

Gulf Stream’s initial order for 625 International DuraStar chassis underscores the significance of the market opportunity, with the relationship projected to expand over time. This deal was a direct result of close collaboration between International and Workhorse Custom Chassis, as International sought support and guidance in penetrating the RV industry. The International chassis is available on Gulf Stream Coach’s Super Nova and Gladiator (Enduramax) models.

“When a leader in the commercial truck industry collaborates with a leader in the RV industry to build a great product, RV customers are going to be the big winners,” says Jim Johnson, vice president of operations of the Conquest Motorhome division of Gulf Stream Coach. “Moreover, our industry is coming into its sweet spot for growth, as population and demographic trends favor long-term RV market growth. Buyers aged 35-54 are the largest and fastest-growing segment of RV owners. Every day, 11,000 Americans turn 50. This is a huge plus for International, because the International nameplate is viewed very favorably by that demographic.”

Gulf Stream Coach is based in Nappanee, Ind., with additional facilities in Goshen and Etna Green, Ind.