The Covid pandemic has sparked an unprecedented level of interest in the on-the-road lifestyle but many wannabe grey nomads are facing a serious problem … they can’t get a van to travel in!
Prices for second-hand motorhomes, caravans and camper trailers have soared as Australians look for an alternative to overseas holidays, and a way to safely get out of the house.
People seeking to find a rig online have apparently started referring to the inflated campervan prices ‘the Covid tax’.
Wannabe traveller, Amber Engelhardt, told the Sydney Morning Herald that she had spent months looking but said the prices being asked for second-hand vans were ‘ridiculous’.
“We were certainly not going to pay over $10,000 for an unfitted van,” Ms Engelhardt said. “I think unless you have some knowledge on vans or a trade behind you to be able to do up a van and still do it cheaply, it’s pretty inaccessible to a lot of people.”
The Sydney Morning Herald reports that the heightened demand has also placed pressure on manufacturers. Jayco has reportedly experienced a 35% increase in sales across new and used RVs compared to the previous year.
Caravan Industry Victoria CEO Robert Lucas said that depending on the type of vehicle, what once had taken a six to nine-month wait was taking up to 12 months in the past year. However, he told the SHM that orders should return to normal wait times in 2022.
The demand for custom fit-outs has also surged. Chris Ellis, from Peachwood Co, told the company’s Instagram followers that custom fit-outs for smaller vehicles like the Toyota Hiace started from $18,000 and went up to $33,000 for larger vans like the Mercedes Sprinter.
Obviously, customers also have to buy the empty van in the first place. However, this option can still compare favourably with buying a new purpose-built campervan or caravan.
Mt Ellis told the SMH that when he started Peachwood Co four years ago, he would get one or two inquiries a week. Now he gets up to 12 a day.
“I’ve already booked up until close to October next year,” he said. “The market is crazy.”
The SMH reports that ZIP Weekly Spending Index data from December 2020 shows there was a 242.9% increase in spending with caravan dealers.