Los Angeles, May 14, 2020. Freight forwarder CFR Rinkens, a global leader in containerized auto logistics, has successfully completed the first westbound rail shipment of finished vehices on the Silk Road into Germany. In cooperation with Chinese rail operator Yuxinou Logistics, 36 containers with 100 Dongfeng Motor Corporation’s (DFSK) Fengon Glory SUVs arrived in the northern city of Bremerhaven on May 6.
“We are especially proud of this successful project launch during very challenging times both in China and Europe,” said Alan So, Sales Director of CFR Rinkens Automotive Logistics, CFR’s Chinese subsidiary. The train left the city of Chongqing in Western China in mid-April just as the government eased Covid-19 related social distancing restrictions. During the planning and implementation phase, CFR faced severe travel limitations and quarantines in China while coordinating meetings, equipment repositioning, and setting up a container stuffing operation near the Chongqing rail terminal. CFR has remained operational worldwide throughout the pandemic crisis. After the Dongfeng train arrived in Germany, the containers were unloaded at CFR’s own processing facility in the port city of Bremerhaven, a European automotive logistics hub.
Containerized finished vehicle shipments by Silk Road are gaining popularity among OEMs due to considerably faster transit times and regular, weekly departures compared to ocean alternatives. Total transit time from Chongqing to Bremerhaven is 18 days as the train passes through Western China, Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus, Poland, and Northern Germany. Ro-Ro ocean shipments typically take 30-35 days from Shanghai or Guangzhou to European base ports, but with the additional inland transport to move the vehicles from cities like Chongqing to China’s deep-sea ports, total Ro-Ro transit can easily exceed 50 days.
“While the freight cost for Silk Road rail shipments is still about double the cost of the traditional Ro-Ro mode, the transit time savings have a positive impact on cash flow and allow us to market the vehicles much faster,” says Uwe Jablonski, CEO of Indimo Automotive GmbH, the official importer of DFSK and other Chinese brands in Germany. “And we expect westbound rail cost to come down as more goods move both ways on the Silk Road,” Jablonski adds.
Dongfeng is not the only car manufacturer taking advantage of the rail option. Volvo, BMW, Daimler, Volkswagen, and Audi have launched similar programs in recent years, mostly eastbound from Europe to China. CFR is already stuffing containers in Bremerhaven for several German OEMs for rail transport to China. “Bremerhaven and Chongqing are positioning themselves as primary hubs for containerized vehicle shipments on the Silk Road which is why CFR set up operations in both cities,” said Alan So. “And balancing traffic both ways is key. We get closer to that goal by launching this westbound train.” Balancing Silk Road cargo movements both ways is a crucial step towards long-term success of the new trade route, which makes this first finished vehicle block train into Germany so significant.
Dongfeng plans to ship one block train per month with three SUVs per 40-foot high cube container. In order to fit three vehicles, CFR utilizes Trans-Rak International’s R-Rak racking system. CFR, a Los Angeles, California based freight forwarder is the known leader in the niche industry for containerizing cars using racking systems, with projects around the globe. Tesla and BMW are among the OEMs using CFR’s services.
“We are confident that containerization of finished vehicles will gain even more traction as factories reopen across the globe,” said Christoph Seitz, CEO of CFR Rinkens. The outbound logistics chain everywhere, from factory outgate to dealer delivery, is facing severe interruptions due to vehicle inventory imbalances, reduction and realignment of carrier capacity, and other constraints. “Containers provide the flexibility that traditional transport modes like Ro-Ro and multilevel railcars cannot. We are seeing numerous opportunities emerge around the globe,” Seitz added.
To maintain operations during the pandemic, CFR had to adjust processes across their warehouse and office footprint in the U.S., Europe, and China. “Most office staff already work from home, and we are enforcing strict rules around social distancing, the use of personal protective equipment, spaced out shifts in order to reduce the number of people present at any time, and constant sanitizing of all facilities,” explains Seitz. “We need to ensure that each of our customers’ supply chains continues to move.”
For media inquiries, please contact Christoph Seitz @ [email protected] or +1-310-926-5511