A custom camper van maker says its supply is limited by Amazon buying up the same models for delivery vans

Heterosexual couple standing on van
Demand for vans that can double as mobile homes has surged during the pandemic. Oleh Slobodeniuk/Getty Images

As demand for camper vans surges during the pandemic, one business owner told CNN that Amazon’s trend of buying up vans to serve as delivery vehicles has constrained the supply of vans available for use as mobile homes.

Alexa Owens, the owner of Cascade Custom Vans, told CNN that Mercedes Sprinters, Ford Transits, and RAM ProMasters, which are used by Amazon as delivery vehicles, are also popular for people seeking custom vans.

Custom vans can be a relatively cost-effective way to travel to many different places, and some have used remote work during the pandemic as an opportunity to jump onboard the popular trend.

In the face of rising demand, the van life industry has been stymied by a shortage of computer chips, port delays that have slowed deliveries of vital goods like windows, and a shortage in vans.

The trend is also popular on social media, where the hashtag #vanlife has over 4.9 billion views on TikTok and 10.6 million posts on Instagram. Other videos demonstrating DIY van upgrades, van conversions and showing off what it’s like to wake up in a van in picturesque locales also proliferate on platforms like TikTok.

The custom van company Outside Van had a months-long waitlist for a $US290,000 ($AU393,995) custom Mercedes-Benz Sprinter custom van that featured two showers, a lounge area, and a kitchen.

“People wanted to get out. They wanted to get away from other people and stay safe, and we were all limited in what we could do,” Brian Jagodnik, marketing and creative director at Outside Van, said. “It pushed people outside and to travel away from others and take the road less traveled, and so the industry just continued to grow.”