* Navistar buys Monaco Coach facilities for $47 million
* Entry into RV market part of diesel, chassis strategy
* RV production, halted by Monaco bankruptcy, to resume
CHICAGO, June 4 (Reuters) - Navistar International Corp NAV.N said on Thursday that it had completed its purchase of certain assets of Monaco Coach Corp MCOAQ.PK, the motorhome and trailer manufacturer that filed for bankruptcy protection in March.
Navistar, best known for its trucks, busses and diesel engines, said it paid about $47 million for the assets, which include four Monaco facilities in Oregon and Indiana.
In a statement, Jack Allen, president of Navistar’s North American truck group, said Navistar’s entry into the RV business fit with the company’s strategy of expanding its diesel engine and chassis businesses.
Navistar said production would resume at some of the facilities “in the coming months” but at a “pace commensurate with demand.”
U.S. motorhome manufacturers have watched demand for their pricey, gas-guzzling vehicles evaporate as a result of the current economic downturn and related credit crunch.
The industry expects to ship just 14,100 motorhomes this year -- the industry’s worst showing in the 38 years data has been collected. That is down 50 percent from the 28,300 motorhomes the industry shipped last year and down 80 percent from the 71,800 vehicles it shipped in 2004.
To put that into perspective, the U.S. auto industry -- the poster child for a business in distress -- expects total vehicle sales in 2009 to be down 30 percent from last year and down less than 50 percent from their peak at the start of this decade.
Reporting by James Kelleher; Editing by Richard Chang
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