Industry Insight

Special transport services for individual vehicles

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Full vehicle logistics: A complete solution from one source

Car enthusiasts, dealers and manufacturers all care about one thing when their vehicle is being moved from country to country: the vehicle should arrive in the same condition it was sent in. Cross-border transport services are now increasingly in demand, particularly in the premium segment, for what are known as super sports cars, vintage vehicles and prototypes. Professional logistics specialists provide support here with what is known as ‘full vehicle logistics’.

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At a glance

These are some of the challenges associated with transporting cars across borders:

  • Safely and reliably transporting premium and often priceless vehicles
  • End-to-end handling from door to door, including customs clearance
  • Best practice examples for manufacturers, dealers and private customers

The automobile industry is one of the most important sectors in the global economy. In addition to production and the aftersales market, logistics is an integral component in the value chain. According to Statista, turnover in the global automobile logistics market will rise from USD 278.5 billion in 2021 to USD 370.8 billion by 2026. Warehousing solutions, production logistics and transport services, for example, are all contributing to this growth. The latter involve both supplying components and materials for production and transporting new and used vehicles by road, rail and sea.

Very different requirements for individual deliveries

Alongside the classic distribution of large numbers of vehicles from factories to dealers, the business of individual deliveries is growing significantly too. Particularly if cross-border transport services are required, the logistics task is becoming increasingly complex with additional considerations needed, such as customs. Vehicle manufacturers and dealers do not normally have enough resources and expertise to handle the transportation of finished vehicles from start to final destination. Depending on what is required, the supply chain may consist of various companies that provide overland, ocean and air services as well as processes needed for specific countries in connection with customs clearance and vehicle releases.

Transporting valuable cars safely and reliably

The need for individual deliveries for vehicles in the premium segment is growing. Customers may be, for example, private persons, who prefer to have their new sports car delivered to their home, but live in a different country than their specialist dealer, or are having a vintage car imported from abroad. Some customers would like to spend time at their holiday home and use their car during their journey. Vehicle manufacturers also have prototypes or vehicles from their press fleet sent to selected specialist dealers. All these scenarios give rise to similar challenges: the key issue involves transporting enormously valuable goods safely and reliably – and doing so to destinations that may be far away and within a tight deadline, in line with the customer’s wishes. The aspect of safety here has a double meaning: it is essential that no damage occurs to the vehicle. On the other hand, the transport services should be unobtrusive and take place covertly in order to minimise the risk of others seeing the product or theft.

Full vehicle transport services become established

In light of these varied requirements, logistics specialists are selected to handle special transport services because of their relevant expertise with regard to vehicle logistics. Crucially, they have recognised the need: so-called full vehicle logistics (FVL) departments are being established and they focus on providing individual services associated with transporting finished vehicles around the globe, including customs clearance. Using a mixture of air, ocean and road transport services, these highly specialised solutions offer high-profile car lovers, dealers and OEMs tailor-made logistics services. And the customer’s specific needs always determine which means of transport is chosen.

„Not everybody knows how to transport a vehicle or handle it. The key to this is having reliable partners along the chain so as to guarantee a smooth delivery process. Cars are becoming increasingly large and heavy and more and more of them are electric vehicles. These vehicles are classified as dangerous goods because of the battery and we have to take this into consideration during transport operations.“
Louise Honoré | Full Vehicle Logistics Manager

Logistics specialists offer end-to-end handling

Regardless of whether the task involves safely and discreetly transporting a prototype or a prestigious sports car: deciding to commission a professional logistics specialist saves the customer an enormous amount of administrative work. After all, the various tasks along the supply chain do not just involve smoothly dovetailing the air, sea and road freight services that have been selected. It is also necessary to comply with documentation requirements, provide customs and insurance services and perform temperature checks as well as hot and cold water tests. Additionally, security-sensitive concepts are essential when transporting prototypes. Then there are the precise solutions for packaging and loading, which are geared towards the (dangerous goods) regulations in the countries in question. To ensure that all the vehicles arrive safely at their destination, they are transported on enclosed car transporters and are fully insured. The transporters are equipped with tracking devices and only stop overnight at high-security vehicle parking areas.

Best practice example: From the factory to the specialist dealer

A luxury car dealer in London contacted the specialist FVL department of one of the world’s leading logistics specialists. The task involved transporting a super sports car from the factory in France to the service centre in London. The solution included picking up the vehicle with a special, enclosed car transporter and transporting it back to London by road, including insurance protection and route planning. The booking confirmation note contained the time and date for picking up the vehicle, the name of the transport company that had been engaged, the truck’s registration papers and the driver details. The FVL employees tracked the vehicle throughout its journey and informed the customer about the current status. The FVL manager personally received the vehicle when it arrived at its destination so that he could completely inspect the car and then hand it over.

Best practice example: Transport services to the Middle East for private customers

This task here comprised transporting a super sports car from London to Dubai. As the car was a birthday present, it was essential to strictly comply with the planned delivery date. There were also concerns because of the fire extinguisher that was installed in the cockpit; it was classified as a dangerous item. The FVL department decided to make use of a solution in cooperation with a cargo airline, which was to guarantee completion of the transport operation within four days from the pick-up to the delivery date. All the documents, marine insurance and customs procedures were concluded in advance. However, because of unforeseen obstacles caused by the customs service, it was not possible to keep to the schedule that the airline had submitted and meet the customer’s deadline. The logistics specialist drew up an alternative solution using a direct flight, which guaranteed enough time for customs clearance, registration and the delivery of the vehicles on the actual delivery date.

Conclusion: Handling all the requirements under one umbrella

These examples show how professional logistics companies can reliably handle special transport services for individual vehicles thanks to their expertise and their networks in a wide variety of different countries. All the transport routes, documentation requirements and customs formalities can be mapped under one umbrella. As a result, customers obtain control, protection and confidentiality from door to door round the clock; the time between placing the order and delivering the finished vehicles is minimised thanks to tried and tested practices and processes. And not least importantly, customers and recipients obtain improved visibility of their valuable freight on its way along a complex supply chain.

Would you like some more information?

Rhenus Full Vehicle Logistics offers personalised services for transporting finished vehicles around the globe.

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