Brushless motors, LiPo packs, and increasing prices (2021)
In 2018 and 2019, I saw very stable manufacturing costs and shipping from overseas was fast and without drama, making it reliable to predict when stock was needed. Customs import pricing was on the rise, but was manageable.
Forward to 2020, with all the CoVid issues, I was hearing some warnings from some suppliers about basic materials having reduced availability at times (such as neodymium used in brushless rotor manufacture and cobalt in LiPo production) and I absorbed the increases in material costs. Several LiPo pack suppliers changed pack formulation to reduce cobalt use as well as introduce better alternate materials, all good changes for us running RC cars. But one of the fastest cost increases has been freight expense, increasing in the latter half of 2020 two fold. I had to take big gulps when I saw the 'new' pricing structures!
The first of 2021 has seen more challenges; rotor material was in short supply to the point new stock did not meet criteria for expected quality (low magnetism). This alone caused shortages for magnets early in the year, but finally the basic materials are available again and rotors meet specs allowing me to build new stock. Shipping has increased again, with prices fluctuation depending on when you ship. LiPo pack production has been stable the last three months, but the shipping costs continue to be very expensive.
What to expect going forward? My LiPo pack vendors are anticipating higher prices as the year rolls on (all those electric cars are sapping active material supplies). And there may be increases in copper wire costs (stators) and magnets again. If prices do become higher, there is a chance that I may have to raise basic prices from packs and motors. We will see. But let's race!