Record US auto exports are filling outbound ships

Article by Anita Panait, on December 20, 2013

The United States posted a 9-percent increase in exports of cars and light trucks in the first 10 months of 2013 after logging 1.8 million in overseas shipments in 2012, according to data from the US Commerce Department. Such record exports are helping sea transport and logistics companies like Wilhelmsen ASA of Norway. Figures don’t lie -- US carmakers continue to expand sales overseas as the auto industry bounces back from the recession of 2008 and from the federal bailouts of Detroit 3 members General Motors and Chrysler Group. Ford recently announced that it will sell its new Mustang in 110 countries. Foreign carmakers like BMW are likewise increasing exports from their US sites.

“It’s another signal that the US auto industry is out of firefighting mode,” according to Jeff Schuster, senior vice president of forecasting at research firm LMC Automotive, adding that there is an opportunity and an expectation for the shipping industry to “see more activity out of this region.

According to RS Platou Markets AS, average rates for ships able to carry up to 6,500 cars will surge 4.1 percent to $25,500 a day in 2014. RS Platou added that utilization will grow to 87 percent as demand gains 3.6 percent and the fleet expands 2.7 percent. Export-bound car and light trucks produced in the US first have to be transported by train or truck to one of the ports in the country.

One such port is Baltimore, which is considered the largest transit point for vehicles. The vehicles are then wrapped for protection from sea salt and loaded onto ships. Cargoes like cars and light trucks increase income for ships that just delivered cars to the US from other countries like Japan. US exports account for around 4 percent of world trade, according to Clarkson Plc.

Topics: united states

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