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The evolution of car carriers

The evolution of car carriers

The modern car carrier could not have evolved without the period of dual-purpose and converted ships.

Today, a car carrier is referred to as a pure car carrier (PCC) or a pure car and truck carrier (PCTC). Looking like a floating garage, the largest of these can carry up to 8,500 automobiles. The difference between the two is the size and strength of the ramps and the layout of the decks. On a PCC, the distance between the decks may only be 5 feet, thereby allowing a maximum number of cars to be carried.

The worldwide transport of vehicles experienced constantly increasing volumes, resulting in today’s large fleets of specialized car carriers. The ships are employed in a variety of trades transporting cars to destinations worldwide. Prior to 1960, the transport of cars was accommodated on traditional tween-deck ships. Each car was lifted on and off using derricks or cranes. However, the origin of the mass transport of cars can be traced to bulk shipping.

By the early 1960s, the export volumes of European and Asian car companies had reached numbers that were beyond the capacities of conventional cargo ships. Many thousands of cars had to be shipped, and it was the geared bulk carriers that proved attractive and economical for this growing trade. Along with the shipment of coal, grain or soybeans from the U.S., these ships were to become the ideal transporters of cars on the return ballast voyages. It was not long before large European and Asian fleets of auto-carrying bulk carriers were built or converted for the trade.