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Vehicle Carrier Market Insight

3 min read

With an estimated USD 775 bn worth of exports in 2018, cars represent the world’s number three exported product by value, trailing only crude oil and refined petroleum oils.

Given this, one would think the vehicle carrier market is booming however this is not the case…

The aggregate number of vessels on the water has remained stable over the past nine years, due mainly to a sensible balance achieved between scrapping and new vessel ordering. However, many owners and larger operators have chosen to order larger designs capable of carrying over 8,000 units per shipment, which has led to lower margins and a decrease in demand and therefore the value of the older smaller ships.

Mid size suffering

Distressed sales of mid sized 10 year old  PCTCs are starting to occur with the recently concluded deal of the Silverstone Express (3,390 CEU, 2009, Mitsubishi) at USD 17.5 mil to Siem Car Carriers being a prime example.

VesselsValue estimates the ship to be worth USD 20.7 mil today but if further distressed transactions are concluded this figure will decrease, says Matthew Freeman, Commercial Director at the firm.

Newbuilding activity

The Japanese remain the dominant force in Vehicle Carrier ownership having ordered 33 vessels over the past 10 years. This is no surprise given they are the second highest exporter of cars with USD 99 bn (c.13% of the total amount globally) transacted in 2018 alone.

Interestingly, the Norwegians have been competing for car carrying capacity against Japan and South Korea and have been the second biggest contractors of new vessels with 25 ships ordered since 2009. Whilst Norway itself is neither a significant importer nor exporter of cars, their name remains synonymous with commercial shipping, Vehicle Carriers and market savvy deals.

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Fleet values

According to VV data, the Japanese have the most valuable global fleet of Vehicle Carriers which is no suprise given what we have covered earlier in this article. Again perhaps the most interesting takeaway is that the Norwegians are in second place with their fleet being worth USD 3 bn.

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Of this USD 3 bn almost 60% of the value is haled between two Norwegian owners Wilhelmsen and Hoegh Autoliners.

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Globally VV says the top five fleets by value are:

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With the addition of these new valuations, VV’s top shipowning countries by value have changed order. Previously, Greece rested comfortably in first place, ahead of China and then Japan however with Japan’s large car carrying fleet, they have moved ahead into pole position.

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Source: VesselsValue as of August 2019

Disclaimer: The purpose of this blog is to provide general information and not to provide advice or guidance in relation to particular circumstances. Readers should not make decisions in reliance on any statement or opinion contained in this blog.