Moving a vehicle with another vehicles sounds a bit ironic, right? Grammatically speaking… it is. Ask yourself- why pay a substantial fee to move an object capable of moving itself? To ship one passenger vehicle from coast to coast in the United States on average costs about $1500. I would just drive the car myself! However, this silly concept brings in an astronomical $5 billion in revenue each year. Just from that statistic, one could assume there is a high demand to transport vehicles! As a matter of fact, there are over 70 million new cars manufactured each year. Every single one needs to be transported somewhere… and that’s not counting cars that have already been built! That just raises the questions of who would want to ship a car, why they would need to ship a car, and how you would even go about shipping a car! Think of a reason which you or someone you know may need to have a vehicle moved.
It can be across town, across the country, even across the world. Not too many ideas pop into your head, right? That’s because the average person does not have a need for this service—so where does all this revenue come from? Let’s say you’re in a collision and your car is inoperable. How do you get it home? You would probably call a tow truck. After your insurance company declares your vehicle totaled and sends you a check, it’s now time to visit the dealership. Those shiny new cars aren’t assembled in the shop out back. In most cases, the car has been made in a foreign country (or state) and hauled to that dealership. What happens when someone moves long distance and has multiple vehicles? I personally can’t drive more than one car at a time; I would hire a shipping company to deliver the car for me.
In America, it’s common for people to collect and accumulate old or rare cars. When the collector passes or decides that it is time to sell, those vehicles are sold all over the country… thus creating a demand to ship the collection. Each year there are “rallies” (road trips with groups of exotic cars) across the world. Most vehicles entered into this competition are pricey supercars which can be very expensive to maintain and operate. Instead of driving to the start line, most owners deliver their cars on an enclosed trailer. Sometimes you’ll find someone who needs to move long distance but are just intimidated by a lengthy road trip. In this case, the best option is to ship the car to the new house and catch a ride on an airplane.
Now that we know why there is such a demand for this industry…. How do you move thousands of pounds of precious metal across the globe? Thankfully we’ve been shipping automobiles for nearly a century, so the process is a bit streamlined. There are several modes of transportation that can carry another vehicle. It is not uncommon for a vehicle to see more than 1 of these modes during its trip. Cars can be carried on a semi-truck, on a cargo boat, on a train, on a cargo plane, and just recently they can be carried on certain passenger planes! Let’s break down the process of getting a new car from the manufacturer to a dealership in another country. Imagine a car has just rolled off the assembly line. First, it’s loaded onto a semi-truck where it is brought to the train station. After the train delivers the new car to its destination (usually some type of seaport), the cars are loaded onto an enormous freight boat which sails to its destined country. Next, the vehicle is either loaded onto another train; or more commonly; towed by another semi-truck which will deliver the cargo to its destination.
Let’s have some fun, pretend you own your dream car—it can be any car you want (in this case, choose something expensive). Let’s say next month is the European Big Ball Rally, stretching from the United Kingdom to France and Germany. Sitting at your computer in sunny Florida, you need your million-dollar car shipped to another continent in just 4 weeks… and the car must be in pristine condition when it arrives. The very first step is to find yourself a company capable of the job. Try to avoid hiring a “broker” as it is usually more affordable to conduct business directly with the carrier. Certain situations may require a broker, just be sure to properly vet the company you decide to use.
At this point, you will need to decide on the type of transportation that will be provided. Since we’re shipping a car of significant value, we will opt for an enclosed trailer to protect us from the elements and reduce the likelihood of theft. Assuming that money is of no concern, you deliver the car to the airport where it will be flown on a cargo plane to Europe. This is a crucial step in the process that will save days, even weeks of transport time because planes are typically a bit faster than boats! Once the plane lands and your car passes inspections, another enclosed trailer will deliver it to the final destination.
Most companies these days (thanks to advancements in technology) make this process incredibly streamlined, stress-free, and transparent. The demand to ship vehicles was born shortly after cars were mass produced. Today’s automotive industry relies heavily on brokers and carriers to move vehicles around the globe—whether it be some of the largest car manufacturers around or just a wealthy businessman looking to have some fun with his toys. As technology rapidly grows and many trades die out, the need for transportation will always be there. We can all agree that the platforms with which we deliver each vehicle may (and will) change or evolve over time. But unless we can find a way to defy physics and transport matter through space, the automotive shipping industry isn’t going anywhere!
Submitted by Jared Tinyes on 29/01/2020