Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Finnish Ports Increase Rates After Strike

The cost of the Finnish stevedore strike increased this week for customers that need to transport containers to Finland as overseas shipping companies taking container freight to Finland announced new surcharges many say are a direct result of the strike action. There have been a lot of freight containers sitting in the ports of northern Europe during the two week strike and the end of the strike has meant all of these containers need to be transported to Finland. The logjam of containers has meant there have been delays in getting containers to destination in Finland and this has resulted in shipping transportation firms delivering the containers deciding to add a few new fees in order to cover their increased costs.

The increases probably aren’t a surprise for most shipping container transportation professionals that have been watching the two-week long strike and wondering what the final price of the strike would be for all involved. We can probably expect the price of transporting containers to Finland to stay high until the logjam of containers is taken care of and the numbers return to normal levels. Customers will just have to deal with the additional costs if they want to get their freight to destination and because of the present logjam there’s only so much capacity for moving containers to destinations in Finland. We might even expect to see more firms transporting containers to Finland to introduce surcharges and fees in order to try to cover the increases in their operating expenses.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Vienna Express Begins her Career, The Next Generation of Large Freight Vessel, car shipping, overseas shipping companies

There's a new generation of city-size freight vessels being designed for overseas shipping companies by ship builders around the world at the moment. Ships with engineering designs and ship components and systems designed to improve the environmental characteristics of the vessels that will be plying the trade routes in the years ahead. The next generation of super-sized freight vessels will have to be versatile in order to do the job of moving ocean freight. The freight industry has shown signs lately that it can shift quickly and the equipment international car shipping firms use to conduct car shipping services needs to be able to handle a variety of jobs. The vessels they use to move ocean freight also needs to be versatile enough in their abilities to be usable for a large and changing variety of strategies that might be employed at various times to do the job and meet problems that might arise in their business. This has been shown recently in the shifting to low-steaming strategies and the emergence of new fast-freight services to handle a niche service that appears to have been at least partially created by the implementation of the slow-steaming policy.

One overseas shipping company that just took delivery of a next generation freight vessel designed with the latest thoughts on making this generation more compatible with the environment and reducing the carbon propeller-print of the ocean freight industry is Hapag-Lloyd. The Vienna Express is over 8000 TEU and includes systems designed to help Hapag-Lloyd implement their current strategy of a controlled speed strategy on their routes. A vessel with a length of 335 metres and width across the deck of 42 metres, the Vienna Express's home port is currently the Port of Hamburg and flies a German flag when she's at sea.

Hapag-Lloyd currently has over 110 containerships in its fleet that are busy taking cargo of all size and shape to destinations around the world at all times of the day. The arrival of the Vienna Express is an event for sure, but Hapag-Lloyd invests in ships of this type on a regular basis in order to keep their business healthy and the level of their freight services current. In fact, investment in vessels and ships is probably the biggest bill firms like Hapag-Lloyd will pay in order to keep the ships moving to destination. This cost has certainly gone up with the changing environmental standards of ship building and freight movements in the world and it's likely to continue to increase as we head further into the century of the environment.

IAA Has Web Site in Mandarin, Chinese Might Offset Allstate Loss, car haulers, cars move, car carriers

Here’s an interesting note on the international nature of the used car market; we’re now seeing a major used car auctioneer having its web-site done with a Chinese option. Since 30% of Insurance Auto Auctions’ cars move overseas already, having Chinese as an option opens things up to over a billion customers, including Singapore, Taiwan and a large minority in Malaysia. There must be a voice aspect to the web site, since it mentioned that it is Mandarin Chinese; the dialects of Chinese are written the same but pronounced differently.

Interestingly, the IAA site has Polish and Russian options. Poland is a major market for used cars from elsewhere, as was Russia before they slapped on tariffs on imported cars last year. The new Chinese page might be a way of offsetting the loss of the Russian market. Japanese isn’t one of their languages, since the Japanese are generally net exporters of used cars; the Russians, especially those on the Siberian Pacific coast, were big markets for second-hand Japanese cars.

This will mean that car haulers will be pointing west more often coming out of IAA auctions; this will give the car carriers bringing imports in from Asia vehicles to take back with them. It might not be enough to fill up things, but a partial load beats no loads at all for shippers.

Since IAA just lost the account to sell Allstate’s salvage cars, they’re likely looking to increase demand in order to get some of that lost market share back, and catering to the Chinese diaspora as well as folks in China proper is one way to do so.


Thursday, March 4, 2010

Mean and Green, Porsche Shows off Plug-in 918 Hybrid

It seems that the vision of electric cars needing car hauling help getting across the country is going by the wayside, as we’re seeing a lot of plug-in hybrid packages hitting the showrooms and the exhibition halls of the auto shows. The Geneva Auto Show has VW showing off a Porsche 918 that packs a double-electric engine along with a V8 gas engine with 630 horses under the hood, When I saw that car, it looked like something that could go mano-a-mano with the Batcar with just a little extra tricking-out; when the Joker asked “Where does he get those wonderful toys?”, he must have commissioned Porsche to get a bad-boy toy of his own.

The Tesla Roadster is sporty, but this is green and mean. If people think of hybrids as politically correct and sissy, this might change their mind. Even if the 918 is out of most of our price range, the idea that the VW folks combined an off-the-hook muscle car with a plug-in electric feature will change how people think about electric cars. It will help VW in moving cars with plug-in options.

Concept cars don’t always make it into production, but this 918 could well be (OK, I’ll use the overused phrase) a game-changer. We may be getting to a critical mass where the electric car will supplant the straight gas car in a decade, where going to the gas station will be something you do for a road trip; that’s not good news for oil companies.


Used Car Dealers, Auctioners Meet at CAR Conference, Intermodal Car Hauling in Discussion

The President’s cracks about Las Vegas haven’t scared off the car auctioneers, used car dealers and car haulers from heading out to Sin City today and tomorrow for the Conference of Automotive Remarketing. Our vocabulary lesson for the day is that “automotive remarketing” is the fancy way of saying used car sales, including the car auctions that provide a secondary wholesale market for the used car industry. Car carriers will be pressing the flesh with auctioneers and car dealers looking to pick up some business picking up cars and pickups.

One press release from a car transporter previewed one of the panel discussions at the CAR noting that intermodal car hauling can be a cost-saving method of moving cars long distances. Rather than loading up a truck and taking it cross-country, like the protagonists in the nice essay in the third link below of a Canadian hauler going from metro Toronto to Thunder Bay and on to Vancouver with a load of custom cars, you can get the train to do most of the work, only needing a truck for the last-mile work from the intermodal hubs.

Such intermodal work does create some logistical issues, arranging for three legs rather than one and also running the risk of dinging up the cars getting on and off the train. However, as gas prices rise, using rail for part of the car haul may make sense, especially for longer cross-country trips. Custom cars might opt to err on the safety side and have just one load and unload, but more mundane cars might be good candidates for an intermodal ride.