Car carriers suffer reversal as volumes slip 2%

Global seaborne car trade is tipped to fall 2% this year with car carriers experiencing among the worst growth figures in volumes shipped over the past decade, according to new data from Clarkson Research Services.

The 2% drop this year to 21.7m cars, following two years of 4% growth, was cited by Clarkson as being down to “softening global economic growth and consumer sentiment”. Among the biggest markets to experience a fall in imports has been China this year, where car imports have slumped 8%.

“Overall, seaborne car trade is expected to be only 3% above the 2007 level in 2019, compared for example to growth in the same period of 59% in container trade,” Clarkson noted in its most recent weekly report.

Guideline car carrier charter rates are down by around 3% year-on-year so far in 2019. However, a decline in fleet capacity by 0.3% since the start of 2019 and slower average operating speeds – down by around 2% – helped mitigate the situation.

Concluding on a more positive note, Clarksons noted: “Looking ahead, the supply side seems supportive; the orderbook is equal to just 3% of the fleet, and speeds could slow further next year.”

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.
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