We are now nearly 18 months since the unofficial start of the COVID-19 pandemic, and it looks like we are still a very long way from reattaching all of the links in the long, broken supply chain.
Last week, the queue of container ships waiting to enter the harbors in Los Angeles and Long Beach hit an all-time high of 65 huge vessels. The real killer is that they will have to wait out there, within sight of shore, an average of nearly nine days before they are allowed to off-load their precious cargo.
That means you’ve still got a long wait in store for that missing RV toilet flush pedal, air conditioner fan, or whatever else you need to keep your rig rolling for the rest of 2021 and into 2022.
Transit times have increased by 30 days
Here’s an even more daunting statistic. The average transit time for a container ship between China and the U.S. is now 71 days. Just two years ago, in pre-pandemic 2019, the trip took an average of 40 days.
The California ports hold the distinction of being the busiest ports in America, being the gateway for all of those Asian imports we apparently must have to build or repair an RV.
The crux of the problem is that the ports have a labor shortage. There simply aren’t enough trained workers to unload the ships in a timely manner. Plus, once a ship is unloaded, there usually aren’t enough available trucks and drivers to haul it away. (Hint: It might not be too early to get started on your Christmas shopping if your gifts are coming from Asia.)
How are RV manufacturers faring?
The “Big Three” RV manufacturers (Forest River, THOR Industries and Winnebago) are all still reporting huge backlogs of unfulfilled orders, and RV dealers continue to loudly complain of low lot inventories and parts shortages.
It isn’t much different in the motorsports industry, which is also suffering from low dealer inventories of motorcycles, snowmobiles, and ATVs. As one motorcycle dealer recently commented, “You can build 99 percent of a motorcycle, but if you’re missing the two bolts that keep the handlebars on, you really can’t ship it out.”
We know that there are an awful lot of our readers out there who are waiting less and less patiently to receive either a brand-new rig or just get the replacement parts they need to keep their beloved RV rolling. We also know it can’t be easy for dealers or repair shops, either, as they face unprecedented supply chain challenges.
What’s your experience been?
Let us know in the comments below what your RV purchase experience has been like since the supply chain broke in the spring of 2020.