After months of gradual increases, prices on car audio components have hit the roof, as much as doubling or tripling in a few months.
Suppliers say car audio prices may increase next year as a result, impacting all major categories including car speakers, amplifiers, and head units.
The price of ABS plastic has doubled in recent months, and steel is up 20 percent. Neodymium has gone from RMB (Chinese yuan) 380000/ton to RMB 550000/ton, according to Hybrid Audio. The increases have scaled up particularly in the past month, said Hybrid Founder Scott Buwalda.
Boss Audio says its suppliers are raising prices between 5 and 10 percent due to overwhelming demand for parts. The biggest shortage is in screen panels, causing shortages in AV radios, said Doug Kern.
Kicker’s Rob Limbaugh said, “We currently have no plans to unilaterally raise prices. We are watching things closely however, the RMB is moving quickly. Freight continues to be very expensive with no end in sight and copper prices are at numbers not seen since 2013.”
“Circuits, diodes, capacitors and power supplies; everything went up,” said Chuck Kenny of Massive Audio.
Like Kicker, many suppliers are hit with higher shipping costs as well as parts increases. The cost of a 40-foot shipping container has skyrocketed from $1,800 to $4,800, said Kenny.
Another supplier who did not wish to be named confirmed, “We used to pay $1800 to $2200 for a container from China; it is now over $5000.”
Trucking charges to get the container from inland China to the port went from $650 to $2,000 due to a shortage of truck drivers, said Kenny.
“It’s been going on for a while, three or four months. It’s been a fight to get parts,” he noted.
Adding to the expenses are the recent Trump administration tariffs of up to 30 percent on some products. A container of amplifiers is slapped with a $30 to $50K tariff, said one supplier.
Hybrid Audio instituted a small price increase at the beginning of 2020, which should help it absorb the higher parts costs for now. “Beyond that, past the spring, we will need to wait and see,” said Buwalda. Several other suppliers said they are considering raising prices early next year.
Linkswell expects to enact a 20 to 30 percent price increase following the Chinese New Year (early next year).
“What we’re hearing is parts are getting very short. Companies have bought out everything available and now if you want it you have to pay for it,” said Linkswell’s Walt Detlefsen. He noted that since the pandemic a number of Chinese component suppliers have gone out of business. “Our factory is there but we don’t make all the components. It’s been a challenge,” he added.
Prices fluctuate so dramatically that Chinese factories are quoting prices on parts for the current day only. If you wait a day, the price will change, suppliers said.
The price increases follow other supply disruptions including the recent fire at the AKM chip factory.