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ELKHART, Ind. (AP) — The recreational vehicle industry centered in northern Indiana continues its record pace of shipping new units.

The Recreation Vehicle Industry Association counted more than 51,600 unit shipments last month, an 8.5 percent increase from last year, The South Bend Tribune reported . March was the best month on record since the association began tracking monthly totals.

Total shipments have increased more than 13 percent compared to last year, which saw a record high of 504,000 RV shipments.

The organization predicts RV shipments could reach 540,000 by the year’s end, said Kevin Broom, a spokesman for the association.

“I think the biggest thing we’ve seen is the strengthening of trends we saw coming out of the recession,” Broom said. “RVs are getting smaller, lighter, more fuel-efficient and aerodynamic. And as millennials are entering the market, there’s been some changing styles.”

Travel trailers are still the most popular product, with more than 35,000 shipped in March.

“That’s a trend that goes back a while now,” Broom said. “There’s no question that travel trailers are the dominant product. In terms of market share, they’re 85 to 90 percent.”

Spring months tend to have the highest shipment rates and that seasonal pattern seems to be continuing, Broom said.

Several thousand people work at RV-related factories in and around northern Indiana’s Elkhart County, producing most of the country’s RVs, according to the association.

The strong performance of the RV industry has given Elkhart County the state’s lowest unemployment rate at 2.5 percent, a major turnaround from when that rate hit nearly 19 percent in early 2009 when the recession caused RV sales to crash.

The area is hosting the Spring Hall of Fame RV Show at the RV/MH Hall of Fame & Museum in Elkhart this weekend.


Information from: South Bend Tribune,