High demand and faltering supply chains: caravan industry’s 2022 so far

Supply chain – these are two words that strike fear into the heart of anyone in the caravan and motorhome industry right now. A global pandemic that still isn’t over, a war in Europe, the climate crisis, cost of living – all of these things are contributing to disruption in the supply chain for almost all industries, but particularly for the manufacture of leisure vehicles.  It’s a strange situation for this industry, as despite these challenges, a level of demand that is higher than ever is softening the blow.

The perfect example of this can be seen in Europe’s most important market Germany, where its Caravanning Industry Association (CIVD) recently reported that despite a drop of 12.2 per cent in new leisure vehicles registered in 2022 at the halfway point in the year, the figure of 55,202 is still way ahead of figures from 2020 and is the second best result in the history of the industry. It’s reason enough to celebrate, but many including CIVD can’t help but wonder what those figures might have reached without the strains on the supply chain.

The main problem for leisure vehicles is a lack of vehicle chassis, this has led to the motorhome sector of the market reporting a 15.9 per cent decrease on new vehicles registered to 40,985 vehicles, compared to 2021’s figure. It is however up on 2020’s figure of 39,627. While traditional motorhomes have been hampered by chassis issues, the supply situation for ultra-compact campervans looks better, which has led to this market segment increasing.

CIVD’s managing director, Daniel Onggowinarso, said: “The shift towards more individualized, nature-oriented vacations began long before the pandemic and will continue to influence the travel patterns of many people in the future. Registration figures for motor caravans have risen steadily in recent years and would probably have reached record levels yet again this year had it not been for supply chain problems.”

For towable caravans, the figures for the first quarter of 2022 showed a significant increase of 7.9 per cent for new vehicles registers – in part because caravans do not rely on vehicle chassis to be built. However, this vehicle segment also experienced an increasing number of supply chain-related shortfalls toward the summer, which is why the 14,217 new registrations represent only a slight increase of 0.8 per cent. Daniel added: “Manufacturers producing motor caravans and caravans have recently increasingly switched to caravan production in order to keep production busy and meet the high demand. However, a lack of materials and components is also causing increasing supply shortages in caravan production.”

So, while there is cause for optimism in general with the latest figures from Germany, the future still looks uncertain with some major obstacles still to be overcome. Daniel concluded: “Reliable predictions are currently impossible. The general conditions in our industry, like in many other sectors of the economy, are very volatile due to supply chains and global crises. We hope that the supply situation will improve by the summer of next year and, despite all the problems, we are looking to the future with confidence, because the enthusiasm of Germans for motor caravans and caravans is as strong as ever.”