Ford Motor Co., on Friday, Dec. 1, temporarily stopped production of its gasoline-powered Class A motor home chassis, which are assembled by TruMack Assembly LLC of Detroit.
A Class A motor home, which ranges from about 21 feet to 40 feet in length, is the largest motorized RV available.
TruMack Assembly is a joint venture between Lansing, Mich., minority supplier Trumark Inc. and Mackie Automotive Systems of Oshawa, Ontario.
The halt in production, which is expected to last until the middle or end of January, is a result of fewer chassis ordered by motor home manufacturers, according to Kenneth Farr, manager of Ford's recreational and commercial vehicle sales.
In the first quarter of this year, TruMack assembled about 2,500 Ford chassis a month. It cut output to about 1,800 units in June and about 1,500 in September.
TruMack Assembly also assembles Ford's chassis for U.S. Postal Service trucks and will continue to produce them while the motor home chassis production is on hold.
The temporary production halt did not result in any layoffs at TruMack, the company said. Employees who assemble motor home chassis were reassigned to assemble the postal truck chassis.
'Historically, the (motor home) market is strong in the time frame of January through May,' Farr said. 'We are now in that time when people should be buying to replace a lot of vehicles, but we have not seen any indicators that the market is coming back as strong as it was in 1999 and 2000.
'If the market comes back as bullish as it was, we will have to re-evaluate where we are.'
U.S. wholesale shipments of Class A motor homes in September, which totaled 3,500, were down 25.5 percent compared with September 1999.
Shipments for the first nine months of the year of 32,700 were down 12.6 percent.
FORD SALES SLIDE
Ford sold about 21,000 Class A chassis this year, a 26 percent decrease from its 1999 Class A sales.
Ford's largest motor home customers include Fleetwood Enterprises Inc. of Riverside, Calif.; Winnebago Industries Inc. of Forest City, Iowa; Monaco Coach Corp. of Coburg, Ore.; National RV Inc. of Perris, Calif.; and Coachmen Industries Inc. of Elk-hart, Ind.
Coachmen does not anticipate the temporary stoppage to affect its production.
Ford also produces gasoline-powered Class C motor home chassis. Production of these chassis, which is in Lorain, Ohio, will continue.