And it’s not just RAYS, this is an issue all across the aftermarket wheel industry.
If you need another example of how this current economic climate is affecting the automotive industry, look no further than the popular Japanese aftermarket and OEM wheel supplier RAYS.
According to an announcement posted on their website earlier this month, Rays informed customers and wholesalers of another Price Revision on their most popular RAYS aluminum wheel models and accessories.
“…the costs of manufacturing continues to rise, including raw materials,” the announcement explains. “The situation is becoming difficult to further sustain. Therefore, it is unfortunate, as pricing will increase as follows.”
Here’s a copy of their announcement below.
The price increase per wheel doesn’t seem all that bad.
For example, a VOLK Racing wheel in popular 15-inch size gets a 4,000 YEN increase or $29.75.
That is, until you realize this is the third price revision in the past six months!
Add up all the price increases for our aforementioned 15-inch VOLK Racing wheel and it totals to $10,000 yen or $74.39.
For a full set, that’s a $300 increase.
For larger wheels, since they use more material, the price increases are even more so.
To be fair, real wheels from Japan are already relatively expensive, a full set of new 15-inch Volks costing well over $2,300.
But, for the car enthusiast scraping by, saving every dollar, these price increases put these wheels that much farther away from making it onto their car.
And, at the pace these price increases are coming out, this is probably not the last.
Corroborating these price increases is the price of materials.
As you can see, aluminum per tonne is 1.7x more expensive compared to the same time last year.
Although prices are dropping, it takes a long time for those price falls to reflect on the final product.
And, if the latest forecasts for aluminum are true, these price drops might only be temporary.
Since Aluminum production is carbon intensive, and with high demand for aluminum from China only increasing, wheels made from aluminum might get more expensive still.
How car enthusiasts will react, we have yet to see.
For one, car enthusiasts have so many other styles to choose from, not to mention countless other wheel manufacturers.
And, even within Rays, there are cheaper, non-forged, options.
But, for so-called real wheels from the best manufacturers using state of the art wheel making techniques, for some car enthusiasts, there’s no compromise, and a price increase is a bullet they’ll gladly bite.