European ports swamped with vehicles amid China EV offensive – DW – 04/25/2024 | EUROtoday

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Cars are particular merchandise: They’re simpler to ship than, say, oil rigs, however they’re additionally so massive that you could’t simply put them on a shelf. Each automotive occupies about ten sq. meters (107 sq. ft) of house, even when not in use.

This poses issues for ports the place vehicles are loaded and unloaded ― in Germany, there are two actually huge ones in Bremen and Bremerhaven. The automotive terminal on the Port of Bremerhaven is among the largest auto ports on this planet with a turnover of greater than 1.7 million automobiles per yr.

BLG Logistics Group, a world seaport and logistics companies supplier, operates the car-handling terminal at Bremerhaven. BLG spokesperson Julia Wagner stated the port has house for roughly 70,000 automobiles with greater than 1,000 automotive carriers visiting the terminal yearly.

Wagner informed DW that the transport enterprise particularly regarding cars at Bremerhaven had modified lately. “We used to have 80% export and 20% import for a long time. This ratio is now at 50:50.”

Bottlenecks from truck drivers to gross sales networks

The Port of Antwerp-Bruges, Belgium, with its automotive terminal at Zeebrugge, is Europe’s busiest port for automotive imports and handles twice as many automobiles as Bremerhaven. There too, enormous numbers of vehicles are piling up at the moment as producers and sellers are being hit by a Europe-wide slowdown in gross sales and logistical bottlenecks together with a scarcity of truck drivers.

A truck carrying new cars destined for dealerships in Germany
Truck drivers and logistics personell are in brief provide in EuropeImage: Raphael Knipping/dpa/image alliance

“This is happening at all European ports that ship large numbers of cars,” says Elke Verbeelen from the communications division of the Antwerp-Bruges port. The longer dwell time of vehicles on the ports, nevertheless, was not solely attributable to a surge in imports, she informed DW.

“The problem lies less in the number of cars landed but rather in the fact that they are not transported onward promptly.”

At the second, the capacities of the principle European automotive terminals are nonetheless massive sufficient to park the automobiles, says Julia Wagner from Bremerhaven. “We currently do not observe a ‘congestion’ of the terminal, as reported in some media about the situation in European ports.”

Modern-day advertising and marketing

At first look, the transport of automobiles appears a quite simple enterprise with producers, distributors and sellers. However, auto manufacturing and its a number of provide chains have modified quickly lately as new markets corresponding to China have grown and commerce disputes have elevated auto import tariffs.

Elke Verbeelen provides that carmakers’ advertising and marketing and distribution methods are additionally completely different from the great previous showroom dealerships of the previous. As clients more and more like to purchase their vehicles on-line, carmakers like Tesla have shifted their presence from the principle road to the web. With extra direct advertising and marketing to clients, the vehicles usually “stay in the port for much longer,” typically with out ever seeing a showroom.

EV gross sales hunch

Another motive for the longer dwell time of automobiles skilled on the European ports is “relatively low car sales,” stated BLG Group’s Julia Wagner.

The scenario has worsened after Germany abruptly stopped subsidizing purchases of electrical automobiles (EVs) in December final yr. “The parking times of cars from all manufacturers at the terminal have increased with the discontinuation of state subsidies that diminished sales of electric cars,” stated Wagner.

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This comes at a time when Chinese carmakers have launched an aggressive push to ramp up their international EV exports which climbed 58% in 2023 from the yr earlier than.

Verbeelen famous, nevertheless, that whereas EV gross sales might expertise stagnation, general automotive imports, together with combustion-engine automobiles, are choosing up once more “compared with the years 2020 and 2021,” when the COVID-19 pandemic hit the auto business in addition to transportation companies.

The result’s “lower capacity for [onward] road transportation of cars due to a shortage of truck drivers,” which might “further increase the time of vehicles spend at the ports.”

This article was initially written in German.