Exports from Japan surged for the fifth straight month as vehicle numbers more than doubled compared to last year while automotive parts exports rose nearly 62%, driven by demand from China and the United States. The increase has led shipping companies operating between Japan and other global markets to charter additional tonnage on a short-term basis as well as postponing planned scrapping of vessels.
Passenger car exports were up more than 161,000 units to 346,209 (87.6%) including 18,075 knock-down units. Exports to the US, meanwhile, more than doubled compared to the same time last year accounting for more than 118,000 vehicles, with those to Asia also doubling to 46,569, according to figures from the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association (JAMA).
Truck and bus exports also showed significant growth up 112% and 94% respectively.
Despite difficulties with recalls around the world Toyota led exports with an increase of 117% on April ’09, accounting just over 150,000, followed by Mazda which exported more than 54,000 vehicles (up 37%). The greatest percentage increase was seen at Mitsubishi, which exported nearly 28,000 vehicles accounting for a rise of 195%.
As a consequence ocean forwarders, which had taken vessels out of service following last year’s halving of export shipments, are pulling laid up vessels back into service. “We can confirm that we are considering postponing some scrapping as well as chartering additional tonnage on short terms basis,” said Peter Menzel, K-Line’s director and general manager, Car Carrier Group. “All cold lay ups have been, or are in the process of being, reactivated.”
Menzel added that Russia was seeing the most increased demand again from Japan.
At Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics, spokesman Jonathan Spaminato confirmed that exports from Japan to China were growing in accordance with automotive sales growth there, estimated at 50% annually. “Volumes shipped on our service reflect this significant growth,” he said. “We have already pulled some vessels out of layup this year, and we do anticipate the need to reactivate additional layups throughout the year,” he added.
Meanwhile, Mitsui OSK Line (MOL) is pursuing a fleet expansion project as part of its ‘Gear Up!’ MOL mid-term management plan in which the company will add 33 new car carriers over the next two years to its existing fleet of 109.