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Which is a better way to ship your used car?

Is it always “pay low with RORO” and “ship faster with container?”  The most straightforward answer is – no.  Shipping by RORO is not always cheaper and shipping by container is not always faster, although they often are.  If that didn’t sound confusing at all, then here is the real score.

RORO row your boat

The RORO offers many advantages.  If you look at the process of loading and unloading the vehicles, the RORO method makes a lot of sense.  The vehicle is simply driven on and off the vessel.  Hence, roll on/roll off, RORO.  Indeed it is faster compared to containers in terms of loading and unloading time.

But what really matters is lead shipping time, the waiting period between paying for the vehicle and receiving it in your home port.  This is when the quirks of vessel availability, shipping schedules and shipping routes come into play. Unfortunately, there are not many RORO vessels plying long distance routes and their service frequency is way lesser than container ships.  Booking a space in a RORO vessel can be a very daunting task.

So, is RORO really cheaper?  Most of the time, yes.  RORO rates are fixed based on the vehicle’s size.  If you compare shipping, say a sedan in RORO and a sedan in a 20-foot container then RORO will come out cheaper.  But if you ship 3 or 4 vehicles together in a 40-foot container, the cost will be much lesser.  It is a very common practice for different customers with the same destination ports to share a container.

Thinking inside the box

Why do importer-dealers prefer shipping their inventories via containers?  Is it because they can receive their vehicles sooner or because they get to pay less by shipping 3 or 4 units in a 40-foot container?  The answer is yes and yes on both counts plus more.

Perhaps the greatest advantage of shipping your vehicle in a container is security as it ensures that your vehicle would not be dented and scratched during loading and unloading or knocked about during the sea voyage.  At the same time, sealed containers eliminate the risk of having your car stereo and other accessories stolen.  If you plan to ship spare parts with your vehicle, the only good option is by containers.

The wrap

The better way to ship your vehicle depends on several factors.  If you can book a space on a RORO; if you can find a vessel which can bring your vehicle from the port of origin all the way to your preferred final destination port; if you can’t share container space with other customers; if you can afford the risk of minor scratches and dents; and if your vehicle does not have a stereo or easily detachable accessories – use a RORO vessel.

Otherwise, use a container.

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