Traveling on four wheels: Is it the dream of your own camper? Industry complains about delivery bottlenecks and rising prices

Actually, the German caravanning industry has nothing to complain about.

Traveling on four wheels: Is it the dream of your own camper? Industry complains about delivery bottlenecks and rising prices

Actually, the German caravanning industry has nothing to complain about. The corona pandemic has given a strong boost to the demand for four-wheel holidays and has given the industry record numbers. The order books are well filled. Sales increased slightly in 2022 by 0.5 percent to 14.03 billion euros, as the industry association CIVD announced on Monday. That was the ninth increase in sales in a row.

But the industry is lagging behind with its offerings. According to the CIVD, the industry recorded declines in production and new registrations last year. Accordingly, the number of mobile homes and caravans produced fell by 1.1 percent to 129,287 vehicles. The production of mobile homes was particularly badly affected due to the lack of chassis - with a decline of nine percent. The CIVD attributed this to faltering supply chains and staff shortages.

The example of the manufacturer Dethleffs from Isny ​​im Allgäu shows how the disrupted supply chains affect production. In the end, the conveyor belts there were always standing still because parts were missing. "We are a small industry with very specialized suppliers," said a spokesman. Start with the washer and end with the refrigerator or chassis. But you can't build a motorhome and then slide the chassis underneath at the end.

The demand is constant and will probably level off at the pre-corona level. The delivery times are a year or more. In the meantime, Dethleffs is no longer confirming any specific data because one cannot plan. In view of the general rise in prices, Dethleffs had to turn the price screw again and again. If a vehicle used to cost maybe 50,000 euros, today it is 15 to 20 percent more, according to the spokesman. This also means that a different clientele is now being reached. The aim is to reduce costs again: "But you can't just put in pallets and say: Bring your own mattresses."

Hymer from Bad Waldsee (Ravensburg district) also reports supply chain problems. "For this reason, despite a high order backlog, we have not been able to fully utilize our production capacities at all times over the past two years," said Christian Bauer, CEO. Due to increased prices, the manufacturer was also forced to "pass on some of these price increases to our customers," says Bauer. But: "We hope that the markets will calm down and the price increases of the past few months will come to an end."

In view of the increased prices, many people would now be more careful when buying, said Ariane Finzel, managing director of the German Caravaning Trade Association (DHCV). In part, they are counting on declining numbers again. "That was a huge zenith, which has now been exceeded a bit. If we level off at the level before the pandemic, then that's certainly not bad."

According to data from online trading platforms, prices on the market for used mobile homes also rose significantly. The mobile.de platform recorded a price jump of 19.1 percent in November 2022 compared to the same month last year. Accordingly, demand continued to rise: the number of views per advertisement rose by 8.3 percent and the number of days that an advertisement was online fell by 13.2 percent.

The AutoScout24 portal reports a similar development. Accordingly, there were peaks in demand between June 2020 and November 2021 in particular - most recently, page views have leveled off at a slightly lower level. The prices on the platform also went up significantly: in December 2021, used semi-integrated motorhomes cost an average of 53,600 euros, in December 2022 it was already 67,700 euros.

Given the rapid growth in recent years, there are also some challenges, said Finzel from the DHCV. There should also be enough workshop appointments available for the large number of mobile homes on the market. There is also a need for a better infrastructure of parking spaces and campsites. It is also important to equalize in individual places and to create awareness for other travel regions.

Despite all the challenges, the CIVD is optimistic about this year. Concrete forecasts cannot yet be made, but motorhomes and caravans are still very much in vogue, said Association President Hermann Pfaff according to the announcement. "Basically, we believe that the delivery situation will improve over the course of this year." The companies could then process the numerous orders better. And the waiting times for ordered vehicles would then be reduced.

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