United European Car Carriers (UECC) has added three new routes to its existing services in the Baltic, European and Mediterranean regions because of an increase in finished vehicle volumes.
At the end of October the Norwegian company started a new service with its vessel M/V Vinni on its Baltic network between the port of Bremerhaven in Germany and the Ust-Luga port at St Petersburg Russia. The 10-day loop, which includes a call at Wallhamn in Sweden, will mean UECC can load additional high-and-heavy cargo and combine it with finished vehicles, said the company.
It enhances the existing weekly service using the M/V Arabian Breeze and M/V Asian Breeze already operating and has the potential to call at other ports according to demand. That service operates between Southampton in the UK and Ust-Luga, calling at Zeebrugge, Bremerhaven, Malmö, Wallhamn, Gdynia, Hanko, and Kotka on route.
UECC’s high-and-heavy traffic, which now occupies about 10% of its cargo mix, has grown by around 50% this year compared to 2009.
The second new service, which began on Monday this week, connects the port of Pasajes in northern Spain with Hamburg, Germany on a weekly basis using the vessel M/V Autopride. It has been added to provide additional capacity for carmakers exporting vehicles from Spain to Germany and offers export potential on the return leg for carmakers operating in Germany.
The company would not divulge which carmakers it was providing the additional services for, citing confidentiality agreements.
As Automotive Logistics News reported recently, UECC took one of the three vessels it had in layup – now confirmed as the M/V Autopride – for the new service because of new business for exports from Northern Spain, as well as rising volume for the Russian and Turkish markets. (read more here).
“For the time being, we will keep the two other vessels [M/V Autopremier and M/V Autoracer] in lay up,” Bjorn Svenningsen, UECC head of car sales, told Automotive Logistics News this week. “Thus, our fleet is currently consisting of 18 vessels in active service.”
The third service, which will start on Thursday this week, will handle shipments in the Mediterranean on a 15-day round trip from Vigo in Spain to Casablanca in Morocco calling at Djen Djen (Algeria), Gioia Tauro (Italy), Fos (France) and Sagunto (Spain), and then back to Vigo via Djen Djen and Casablanca. It is “expected to be a welcome supplement for car and high and heavy shipments in this area”, said the company in a statement.
Following the downturn, last year UECC halved its fleet by recycling five vessels, redelivering seven on time charter, selling two ships and laying up a further three. Unlike some other shipping lines, the company currently has no new buildings scheduled to come into service.
“In terms of future capacity demand, this is something that we will coordinate with our owners very closely and draw on their excessive capacity/tonnage,” said Svenningsen. “Eventually, we will have to look at some new buildings, but this is somewhat difficult to justify in today's extremely competitive market.”
UECC is owned by Sweden’s Wallenius Lines and Japan’s NYK and moves approximately 1.2m cars and commercial vehicles annually, as well as around 10,000 high & heavy units a year, including mafi cargo.