Ford Makes RV Industry News in Louisville
By Jeff Kurowski

Two recent announcements by Ford Motor Co. will have some direct and indirect effects on the RV industry.

    The development with the most direct impact on the industry is Ford’s licensing agreement with Thor Industries Inc. subsidiary Livin’ Lite RV Inc. to design and build Ford-branded truck campers, travel trailers, toy haulers and, eventually, fifth wheels and folding campers.

    The development indirectly affecting the RV industry is Ford’s $1.3 billion investment to retool its Louisville plant to build aluminum body F-250, F-350, F-450, and F-550 pickups and chassis cabs along with the next generation of its full-size SUVs. The automaker’s F-250 through F-550 pickups comprise a big portion of the RV tow vehicle market, and they will be up to 350 pounds lighter than current versions, while having longer cabs and greater towing capacity.

    Production of the aluminum body Super Duty pickups will begin in May. They will be marketed as 2017 model year units and go on sale late in 2016.

    Ford dealers sold a little over 695,000 F-Series pickups through November 2015. F-250 and up Super Duty pickups and chassis cabs accounted for a third of that number.

    Meanwhile, the first Ford-branded RVs built under the terms of the Ford-Livin’ Lite licensing agreement will be aluminum body slide-in truck campers for 6- and 8-foot truck beds, plus travel trailers and toy haulers in 22-and 24-foot lengths. The interior and exterior designs of the RVs will complement the design of Ford’s tow vehicles.

    The Ford truck campers will begin appearing on Livin’ Lite dealers’ lots during the first quarter of 2016, and the truck campers and toy haulers will be shipped to dealers during the second quarter.

    “Ford is an industry leader in towing technology, so it was only natural for the company to license its name and designs in this (RV) industry,” says Mark Bentley, Ford licensing manager. “It was an easy decision. Livin’ Lite’s use of advanced materials and their innovation mindset makes them an excellent fit with the Ford brand.”