By Namrita Chow
The growth in commercial vehicle sales in China, South America and Africa is forcing ocean forwarders to use smaller ports that are closer to the manufacturing base but which do not have proper ro-ro provision.
Commercial vehicle sales in China are increasing dramatically with a total 903,202 medium and heavy units sold in the first seven months of this year. In 2009 a million such vehicles were sold in China and analyst J.D. Power estimates over 1.15m medium and heavy commercial vehicles will sell this year.
China National Heavy Duty Truck Group has sold 127,303 heavy trucks so far this year up 64% over the same time period last year. Dongfeng Motor Corp has sold 127,255 heavy trucks up 144%. Meanwhile, China FAW Group’s heavy truck sales are up 138% to 148,018 units in the first seven months of this year.
For suppliers this has suddenly meant an increase in production sites near commercial vehicle manufacturers and for ocean forwarders it has meant the use of ports that do not fit the bill.
“Under normal circumstances our ships will only dock at the large car friendly ports but if there are 200 to 300 trucks or construction vehicles to pick up the liner will dock at smaller ports located near the manufacturer,” said Johnny Xia, head of all commercial activities at Hoegh Autoliners in China.
These smaller ports include Longkou in Shangdong Province and Lianyuangang in Jiangsu Province, close to vehicle production bases but usually with reduced provision for major ro-ro handling.
The presence of large volume ‘project cargo’ pick-ups mean that ships will dock at these ports nevertheless and markets further afield are also an influence.
Markets in South America and Africa continue to drive export demand for M&H commercial vehicles. Xuzhou Construction Machinery Group is based in Jiangsu Province and usually insists on vehicles to be collected from Lianyuangang Port. Its dump trucks are now in large demand in South America and Africa.
In the first six months a total 803,660 M&H commercial vehicles were sold of which 75,200 units were exported. “The M&H CV export by June 2009 was 51,100 units, so the year-on-year growth rate is 47%,” says Jenny Gu, senior market analyst at J.D. Power Consulting Shanghai.
Medium and heavy commercial vehicles include heavy and medium trucks and heavy and medium size buses.
“Exports of vehicles can go from any port,” said Owen Xie, deputy managing director and general manager of Automobile Logistics Division at NYK Logistics China. Amongst the numerous ports in China apart from the four major ports of Shanghai, Dalian, Guangzhou and Tianjin the most commonly used for vehicle shipments are Xiamen Port, Qingdao Port, Dandong Port and Ningbo Port, he said. “These four also take ro-ro vessels but are generally cargo terminals,”