With all that’s happening in the world, especially with the global supply chain backlog, you need to start considering things that you didn’t need to three years ago when buying a VW bus (kombi) in Brazil. First and foremost, even before the pandemic, Brazilians have a siesta type culture. This means they typically view deadlines and commitments as a guideline/suggested date as opposed to how we Americans or Europeans view a schedule.
In business in the US and Europe, when we say a job or a milestone will be completed on a certain date, it damn well better be completed or something is seriously wrong. In Brazil, their mentality is that the job gets done when it gets done because why would you want to rush a job? As someone whose job it is manage the process and hold my clients’ hand through a complicated yet simple series of milestones, bridging this cultural divide is one of my biggest challenges.
The pandemic and subsequent supply chain problem has made this challenge even greater. Before the pandemic, I would tell customers the process would take 3 months if we were simply buying a bus and shipping it stateside. For an average restoration it was 4-6 months. Mid pandemic, I sold a restoration project and estimated the timeframe to be more like 8-10 months. We’re now about 15 months in. The kombi is beautiful and ready to ship. It’s taken about a month to just get a truck to ship it to port. Then we’ll have to wait another month and a half to ship.
Now, the good news is that I don’t see this lasting more than a year as the global economy resets. The bad news is that inflation and all these extra supply costs has caused the prices of Brazilian VW buses (and simultaneously German made buses) to jump a good 15-20%. That project that we discussed that started mid pandemic cost roughly $40k to the customer shipped. That same bus would would now cost them $50k shipped.
Another supply issue is that the kombis in Brazil are getting harder to find as time progresses. We are roughly 3-5 years away from when it will be a lot tougher to even find one let alone at a good deal which is the current concern. As that ample supply we’ve counted on the last ten years dries up, guess what happens to prices. That’s right. I don’t see demand doing anything but continuing to increase so we could see six figure Brazilian VW buses in ten years.
Thank you for following me folks! I always try to tell you it straight and encourage you to engage. I geek out about this stuff so always feel free to hit me up at:
Owner, VW Bus Guy
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Hi! My name is Scott Mills and I'm the VW Bus Guy. I travel to Brazil to find and restore Kombi Buses (the Brazilian name for VW Buses).