Update: How Is Covid Impacting International Car Shipping?

Photograph and Illustrations Courtesy West Coast Shipping

Looking for that dream car? Or trying to get top dollars for yours? Doing so might involve shipping a car across a large body of water–something we have looked at before.

So, what's today’s reality regarding shipping a car across an ocean or two?

The entire worldwide logistics chain is experiencing congestion due to a number of factors,” Alex Naumov, COO of West Coast Shipping and one our sources in that earlier deep dive on auto shipping, said in a release. “The situation in the US is getting worse and will continuing deteriorating at least until March. We're working to minimize these delays and want to provide you with an update.”

As major shipping hubs like Los Angeles and Long Beach face delays, it also puts delays on other critical ports around the world.

What’s causing the issues? “Surging demand on shipping from Asia to the US and Europe has created a shortage of empty containers worldwide,” he continues. “With China exporting a lot more to the US and Europe than it is importing, empty containers are being returned to Asia instead of being loaded with new cargo.

Rates on shipping a container from Asia have also soared to record highs. Importers in Europe are paying over $13,000 USD to ship a single container from Asia, an increase of nearly 6x what it was last year.”

And then add in Covid. “International shipping relies on a constant flow of traffic along the routes which ocean carriers sail. Because of Covid, the flows of traffic were disrupted as factories shut down and no products were shipped. Ocean carriers skipped their scheduled sail dates as vessels stood empty and cargo piled up at some of the largest ports in the world.

As factories reopened in Asia, carriers began to fill ships and move cargo again. Containers arrived to the US to be unloaded, then to be loaded with cargo headed for Europe, Australia and other destinations worldwide.

What exuberates the congestion further are the port dock workers that have caught Covid. Nearly 10% of the workforce in Los Angeles are out sick, causing labor shortages and delaying the rate at which vessels are being loaded and unloaded.

Because some ports are operating with a reduced number of workers, it takes longer for ships to get unloaded and loaded, meaning many ships find themselves waiting just outside of port for days, if not weeks, until spots open up. 

Because the ships coming from Asia stop in Los Angeles first before sailing to their next destinations, the delays at the port of LA have also affected other ports in California, including the Port of Oakland.”

How to weather this storm? “While port delays experienced by our customers are minimal, keep in mind vehicles may arrive up to a week late on its journey across the oceans,” he says.

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iansane Reader
1/28/21 1:49 p.m.

Weird, I was just listening to a conversation with one of the managers of the terminal I'm at (port of Seattle) talking about a huge backup of ships down in California. He attributed it to a lot of longshoremen either not being able to work, or not wanting to work because of COVID.

We've even got a decent backup around here. The yard is basically full.

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