The Carrier Car industry has emerged from the global recession with what looks like limited damage compared with the head-on collision others experienced. Drewry believes that this sector, with its small orderbook, is better positioned than most others in the shipping industry, who suffer from large newbuilding orderbooks, to weather a double-dip recession.
The downturn hurt car-carrying vessels, with capacity utilisation falling significantly. Operators are now less likely to charter tonnage for long periods, instead placing an emphasis on full employment of owned tonnage. With limited numbers of newbuild vessels coming into service, increased demand is easier to meet and an excess of new capacity is not going to blight operators, if the economy retrenches.
Drewry highlights in its latest report that over the next 15 years the global trade in motor vehicles will increase by about 3-4% per year, but the picture of the global seaborne motor vehicle trade is now a complicated one, especially after a period of shifting manufacturing bases from West to East. This shift towards regionalised production will stifle the deepsea trade to some extent, but will benefit the seaborne trade in containerised vehicle parts.
However, the threat to deepsea trade might not materialise in the near future, as forecasts in Drewry’s Car Carriers report estimate that Japan, the leading contributor to global seaborne vehicle trade, will have strong growth
in 2012-15, with European trade returning to its 2007 levels by 2015. South Korea, the second largest seaborne vehicle trader, will experience an average increase of at least 4.5% for the next 10 years.
Even though production is shifting towards Eastern countries, there is a ray of light in the eastbound trades. Only a few years ago, this was a ballast leg for car carriers after importing cars from Asia, but many ships now sail with paying cargo, as demand from China for luxury European car brands continues. Germany’s latest jobless figures have hit a 20-year low, which are attributed to its industrial structure creating demand in markets such as China.
Drewry’s Car Carriers report also looks into ports and terminals and the impact they can have on a country’s desire and suitability as a manufacturing hub. India, for example, aims to be the world’s third largest auto maker and is making major investments in infrastructure, including ports and terminals. Government investment is earmarked for ports totalling $60 billion by 2020, with individual carriers setting up locally to handle the export business for car manufacturers.
“Car Carriers” is published by Drewry Maritime Research.
Published in February – the report is available for £1195
The report will be available in pdf format which can be downloaded from the