Cars packed in COSCO containers
Photo: Cosco

Cosco Shipping Lines has launched China’s first complete vehicle export intermodal route.

Last week, in two separate shipments, electric vehicles from Chinese car maker SAIC were loaded in more than 400 containers in Zhengzhou and Fuzhou, before being railed and trucked, to Qingdao and Shenzhen, to be shipped to Italy and the Netherlands, respectively.

Following the 28-hour rail trip from Zhengzhou, the containers arrived in Qingdao port, and were loaded onto the 20,000 teu Cosco Gemini, which will carry the cars to Italy’s Vado port.

A representative of Cosco Shipping said: “Demand for car exports is at its peak during this time of the year, and for SAIC, we sought to design an efficient, convenient and environment-friendly land and sea channel to export new energy vehicles.”

Cosco Shipping said that amid the shortage of pure car and truck carriers (PCTC), the service fulfils peak demand for vehicle exports. China is set to become the world’s largest car exporter this year, with exports surging 74% year-on-year to 2.8m cars in the first seven months of 2023.

Notably, China’s exports of new energy vehicles to the EU surged 112% year-on-year during this period. The European Commission forecasts China’s share of electric vehicles on the continent has grown to 8% and could reach 15% by 2025. The popularity of made-in-China vehicles is down to these being 20% cheaper than European-made ones.

Owing to the plunge in vehicle demand during the Covid-19 pandemic, the recent jump in PCTC newbuilding orders is still lagging behind the current rebound in vehicle demand.

Cosco Shipping’s representative said: “We worked with customers to fill up the required forms, based on the car models, combined with the certificates and information required by the ports and maritime safety administration. We also worked with the relevant agencies to expedite the handling of customs matters.”

The launch of the routes shows the close cooperation between China’s largest shipping group and the country’s largest car maker.

Last October, a mutual stock transfer saw Cosco Shipping’s parent Cosco Shipping Holdings (CSH) take a 5.8% stake in SAIC, while the latter received 5% of CSH’s shares.

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