cmes chang pctc
Chang Tai Hong, one of CMES’ PCTCs Photo: VesselFinder

The car-carrying market continues to expand, and China Merchants (CMES), the second-largest state-owned shipping group has ordered two 9,300-unit methanol-powered pure car and truck carriers (PCTCs) from its affiliate, China Merchants Heavy Industry, with options for another four of the ships.

The newbuildings, at $96m each, are believed to be the first PCTCs t0 burn methanol, and will be delivered between H2 25 and H1 26.

CMES, which launched ocean-going vehicle shipping operations last year, said: “Benefiting from the growth of China’s electric vehicles and other automobile exports, and the changes in the cross-border automobile supply chain, Chinese shipowners have broad prospects in the international ro-ro shipping market.

“We’re taking advantage of the opportunities of domestic automobile export development, expanding the company’s international ro-ro business. With direct access to rivers and oceans, the company will enhance its domestic and ocean-going vehicle transport operations.”

China Association of Automobile Manufacturers statistics show China exported 3.1m cars last year, up 54% year on year, exceeding forecasts of 2.4m, which will not only enlarge China’s market share in the global automobile market, but will also drive the development of automobile logistics.

The supply and demand of PCTCs needed to ship China’s car exports is unbalanced, according to observers, prompting car-makers like SAIC to establish in-house shipping companies and order their own vessels.

For example, said Metro Shipping: “China’s vehicle export volumes increased 56.9% year on year in 2022 and the export value growth was substantial, at 74.8%, leading Chinese automotive manufacturer Chery to develop a car-carrier construction base in Weihai to meet its growing automobile transport demands, by building batches of 6,000 ceu car carriers.”

Last year, 90 PCTCs were ordered, nearly tripling the 38 vessels booked in 2021.

CMES added that choosing methanol as a fuel option complied with its environmental, social and governance policy.It said the PCTCs would be fitted with the world’s first 60-cylinder methanol internal combustion engine. It added: “While the main engine can use green methanol, it can still use marine diesel oil when necessary, ensuring fuel flexibility.”

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