Tariffs could spell trouble for RV industry

NOW: Tariffs could spell trouble for RV industry


ELKHART, Ind.-- President Donald Trump signed the steel and aluminum tariffs into action in March of this year and it came into effect Monday-- Increasing costs and decreasing demand. 

More than 80-percent of the recreational vehicles sold in the U.S are made in and around Elkhart, and Elkhart county commissioner, Mike Yoder, is worried out ten year boom could begin to decline.

“So think about the chassis that go underneath these RV’s, that’s going to increase these costs quite a bit. So tariffs have an impact on our community probably more so than most communities across the country because we are so tied into the foreign trade market.”

In fact, about 35-percent of Elkhart's economy is driven by exports in machinery manufacturing. 

Of the top ten cities in America most dependent on these exports, four of them are in Indiana.

Elkhart is number four.

Vice President of product development and marketing of Thor Motor Coach based in Elkhart says he's not too worried about business based on the success of the week's RV exhibition.

“We employ a lot of people here in Elkhart so this is how the people live in our community. The RV business is strong and as you can tell by the number of people that are out here, I think that we’re going to have a great show this week and I’m not really sure the tariffs will affect us at all.”

According to the RV Industry Association, RV wholesale shipments for August actually decreased around 12% compared to August of last year. 

That decrease obviously took place before yesterday's tariffs so Elkhart County's economic future is sill under interpretation. 

“Without a doubt, tariffs increase the costs of goods, one way or another," says commissioner Yoder. "That’s the reason we need to be very concerned about that in Elkhart county  because as the costs of other goods go up that means that peoples discretionary income goes down. And what do we buy RV’s with? It’s our discretionary income."

The RV Dealer and Buyer show in Elkhart brings in about 5,000 buyers from around the country. 

Commissioner Yoder also said although steel and aluminum are a big contributor to Elkhart's economy, It's a waiting game to see when and how much it'll affect them.

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