It hasn’t taken long to feel the effects of the Trump Administration’s recent tax on goods imported from China for drone operators. The biggest name in the industry, DJI, has already raised prices to reflect the increase.
Other major manufacturers have yet to follow suit, however if there is no change in the trade situation between the countries, it is likely we’ll see more price increases.
The more prominent increases are seen in highly popular models of the DJI Mavic line. The same Mavic Pro 2 that was priced at $1,499 is now listed on DJI’s website at $1,729. The Mavic Zoom now lists for $1,439, while the little sibling Mavic Air is now $919.
Not only are the drones’ prices impacted, but also extras like the recently released Smart Controller, which is up to $749, well over its initial release price of $649.
While DJI may be the first to reflect these adjusted prices, there is considerable question as to which drone manufacturer will be next. Autel, maker of the very popular Evo model, has posted an official announcement on its website where Tim Matthews explains that the company first felt the impacts of the tariffs on May 10, 2019, but has worked to shield customers from the tariff’s impact on pricing.
However, as of Oct. 1, 2019, the company began increasing prices on some of its products due to the increasing impact of the tariffs.
Matthews goes on to say that Autel is working to help offset this by creating better values with bundled items and exclusive deals to ease the impact to the customer.
What are the options if you want to buy a drone?
If you’ve been wanting to buy a new drone, it may be too late to get one at the old price.
Many of DJI’s models are sold out, presumably from a pre-tariff flood of customers wanting to get a new DJI drone before the price hike.
Autel, as of this writing, still has the Evo at the usual $999.
It’s assumed other manufacturers will increase their prices, as well, as they feel the impacts of the tariffs.
There are still some models to be found at these sites, but quantity and availability can vary considerably.
Also be aware of the seller’s reputation when buying from unknown third parties to ensure a safe, smooth transaction.
New vs. Used Drones
Another thing you may consider is finding a good pre-owned model. This might make more sense, especially if you are a new drone pilot.
Rather than spending big bucks on a brand new model, which may get a little wear-and-tear as you climb the learning curve, a nicer pre-owned model will not only save you from the price hike of the tariffs, but also be less expensive to begin with.
It is anyone’s guess how long the price increases will stay in effect or if the retail prices will someday return to the previously low levels we were used to.
The best thing is to shop around, compare your wants vs. your needs, and work only with a reputable seller, whether online or in person.
There always seems to be good deals if you look around enough — and with the price increases we are seeing, it will be well worth your time when shopping for your shiny new drone!