Container Shipping Cars From Japan

Container shipping vehicles we buy for you in the Japanese car auctions is the alternative to sending them by RORO ship.

Container v. RORO

Now, usually, there is not much contest between RORO and container: RORO tends to win pretty much every time it’s available. There are a few of reasons for that.

First of all, RORO shipping is almost always cheaper than container shipping. Especially when you remember that you don’t just pay for the container to be transported by sea, but also you will need to pay for loading the container in Japan, and offloading it will cost you financially, or in payments to your staff when it arrives at your end.

Next, RORO shipping gives you flexibility: You can send 1 car, or 7 … or 34 — however many we can convince the shipping line to make room for. But when it comes to container shipping, you need to fill the container to make it worthwhile.

So you may find that the sizes of cars you buy fit snuggly 4 to a container. Or perhaps that number is 5. In any case, if you have 7 cars to ship and you usually fit 5 per container, it makes sense to send off the first 5 and then wait until you have another 3 to make up the second set of five.

So why use containers?

Container shipping your cars makes sense only in these three cases:

First, is if you have no other choice. Obvious, really. If there’s not a RORO ship going to your country at all, then you’re pretty much stuck with containers. For most destinations, though, this is not an issue.

The second reason only makes sense to very few “niche” buyers: If you’re buying high-end vehicles like Ferrari, Aston Martin, Bentley or the like, then you want to keep them sealed up and locked away during their journey. The premium cost of shipping only makes sense with these premium cars.

The final reason to choose container shipping is in the exceptionally rare case that there is a RORO shipping route for your cars, but availability is so low that your vehicles could end up waiting for months to be shipped. If your customer is willing to pay extra for quick delivery, then container can make sense in this very unusual situation.

Pitfalls to watch out for

When sending cars by container, the biggest mistake you can make is poor packing. What I mean is this:

To make the most of the space in the container, vehicles have to be loaded creatively. If you just drive them in and lash them down, you’ll only end up loading two at most per 40 foot high cube container.

Now, while this is appropriate for very high-end premium cars, this makes no sense if you’re shipping regular cars in bulk. Typically, you will want to get 4 or 5 per container, and that’s only possible with some creative loading. What I mean by “creative loading” is some cars on the floor of the container, but others mounted at angles to make the most of the available space.

And this is where the problems can start.

You see, if the cars aren’t mounted properly or with strong enough materials, then they can shift and damage themselves as well as other vehicles.

Remember that it’s all very well if a material (such as wood) can bear the car’s weight when the container is stationary, but the acceleration resulting from the container being moved around from truck to yard to ship to truck multiplies the stress it will experience. In the worst-case scenario, the container could be dropped and the braces used to mount the cars will then experience a level of stress many times their resting levels.

Wood bracing?

Of course, this rules out wood bracing right away. Or it should, anyway. If your exporter still uses wooden bracing to mount cars, you need to stop buying from them immediately. It’s only a matter of time until you receive a container full of twisted scrap that used to be cars when you paid for them.

Let me just reiterate to make sure you don’t get stung on this one: Never, ever let your exporter ship cars to you that are braced (mounted off the floor) with wood.

Steel bracing?

Steel bracing is definitely a cut above wood. Steel is both stronger, and more malleable. So where wood will just shatter, steel should remain firm — or at worst bend. So it looks like steel is the answer when loading vehicles for container shipping.

Well, yes … and no.

You see, how the majority of exporters use steel bracing is still not going to keep your cars completely safe. You see, the standard way of using steel bracing is to weld it into “platforms” for the wheels of the car to sit on.

Can you see the obvious flaws?

Simple: The steel may be strong — but the welds are not. They crack under strain. And the car is supposed to just “rest” there on its wheels while the container’s manhandled? Think again. A big enough jolt, and then vehicle will slip right off.

Our unique loading system

Your car is firmly mounted to the container using the container’s own mounting points. It’s attached to these using steel rods that are bolted onto your vehicle using the wheel nuts. Each wheel is mounted with 4 steel rods. Each rod is rated to 1,500 KG.

What does that mean? Well it means that your car is being held in place by 16 steel rods in total — with each one of them capable of bearing the entire weight or almost the entire weight of the car.

Overkill? Perhaps.

But then look what happens when the container gets dropped 2 meters:

(Video extract courtesy of Integrity Exports’ partners, Equip Corporation)

A drop what would shatter wooden bracing, or buckle traditional steel bracing does not phase this unique loading system.

And that is why only know of one instance out of literally hundreds of containers shipped, where one car suffered slight damage in transit. (And even in this case it was still not completely clear whether the damage had actually occurred during shipping, or whether it had actually happened during offloading.)

To reiterate, here at Integrity Exports, we only use the very best, most secure method to container ship your cars. If you need container shipping and want that level of assurance, then you need to start buying from us.


If you have any questions about container or RORO shipping, please contact us at and we will be happy to help.

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