Date: 24.06.2021

Finished car shipments at pre-COVID levels

Car carriers that have been lying idle since the onset of the pandemic have been taken out of mothball, as one of the worst affected shipping segments, is quickly returning to pre-COVID activity levels.

The car carrier sector was amongst the parts of the shipping industry hardest hit by COVID-19 last year, as car manufacturing ground to a near halt, dealerships closed their doors, and the global economy tipped into a steep recession. People were not buying cars, buses, lorries and vehicles in general – not that they were being manufactured with the lockdowns experienced on every continent and manufacturing shutdowns.

However, the sector has since seen an impressive rebound, with trade volumes picking up firmly, idle vessels being reactivated, and market conditions strengthening notably.

Fast forward to today and volumes of cars being shipped have just about returned to pre-COVID-19 levels, partly driven by the increasing popularity of Hybrid and pure electric vehicles (PEV), as consumers want to make greener choices when it comes to their next vehicle purchase. This is a positive outcome from a time that has allowed the world to focus and to contemplate climate intrusion for the future!

By May 2021, seaborne car trade volumes stood just 5% below pre-COVID levels, with electric vehicles (PEVs and hybrids) accounting for 22% of globally transported car trade so far this year, up from 9% in 2019.

And it is very likely that these volumes could have been even stronger if the car manufacturers had not been hit by the semi-conductor chip shortages, and other commodity related components, which are on track to cut global car production by a considerable amount, which is equivalent to 8% of pre-COVID output.

The global car carrier fleet is currently just 1.5% smaller than at the outbreak of the Pandemic, which has helped prop up vessel charter rates, which fell to a record low of $10,000 a day in Q2 last year. While the one-year time charter rate for a 6,500 ceu PCTC hit $21,500 a day in May 2021, a five-year high and the rate for a 5,000 ceu ship jumped to $17,000 a day; the highest level seen since before the financial crisis.

Metro has been working with automotive manufacturers and their primary suppliers for decades, optimising complex inbound and outbound supply chain operations, on all modes of transport.

We work closely with the largest RoRo car carriers, arranging bespoke sea charters for the largest and most complex commercial vehicles.

For further information on automotive and related logistics tailored platforms that Metro deliver please talk with Tom Fernihough or Grant Liddell and we will be delighted to arrange a meeting, call or presentation covering all current options available within our global network and platform.