Passenger cars are by far the largest segment of vehicles produced. Globally, they accounted for about 73% of total vehicle production in 2019, reaching over 67 million. In previous years, this share was close to 76%. The singles for 2019 implied a fairly sharp decline of six percent, which clearly affected and impacted the performance of all segments.

In this particular example, North America is the best of the rest at six percent, although that figure has dropped from the ten percent it had before in the previous five years.

In 2019, around 20.2 million light commercial vehicles were produced worldwide. This roughly corresponds to a 22% share in global production across all segments. This is a slight increase from 20% in 2015 and is a result of the sector seeing only a 2% drop in 2019, four percentage points less than the decline in car production. In addition, light commercial vehicles experienced significant growth in 2018, while passenger cars fell slightly.

This time, North America is the largest producing region in the world. In 2019, it accounted for over 11.8 million units, which is nearly sixty percent. The combined share of the CBA3 and Europe / Mediterranean regions was only seventeen percent.

The next largest segment of manufactured equipment is heavy trucks. They account for only five percent of global production, and in 2019 they totaled just over 4.1 million units, which is insignificant compared to 2018. Production is focused on the NEA3 group as they produce two-thirds of the total. Next comes North America with a 14% share, while Europe / Mediterranean is most often displaced by the Indian subcontinent.

The final segment is buses and coaches. Compared to other segments, its contribution to the global indicator is insignificant, less than one percent. In 2019, this figure was about 271,000 units, and for three years now it has been significantly decreasing. Back in 2016, around 338,000 units were produced. Again, the dominant region is China, Japan and South Korea, with more than half of them, although they have also declined over the past two years.

Implications for Ro / Ro transportation

It’s not that all products are automatically converted into units of vehicles that move around the world. Many factories serve domestic and neighboring businesses. Then, even in the case of exporting or importing units across several borders, it can be purely land transport.

Loads not included in the above figures will also supplement them. These will be not only large, tall and heavy loads, but also used cars.

In 1930, the Townsend Brothers of the United Kingdom opened a car service on the Dover-Calais route, which is still the main connection between the two ports. He used a converted 1918 HMS Ford minesweeper that was originally intended for a landfill. Renamed Ford, it was equipped with an aft gate / ramp and accommodated 168 passenger cars. The flexibility provided by the restructuring of the ramp only showed itself when a general strike in France in 1936 brought cranes to a standstill. However, “Ford” could dock and unload vehicles.

Despite this experience, it wasn’t until 1950 that Townsend began offering conventional entry / exit options with the deployment of a replacement Forde, another converted warship, and the use of the former British Army Bailey Bridge at Calais as a ramp. (Dover followed suit three years later.) Townsend received its first purpose-built Ro / Ro ferry in 1962.

By that time, the world’s first commercially operated RoPax was actually commissioned. By the last stages of World War II, a number of flat-bottomed amphibious assault ships were developed, ranging from simple and small advanced ramps to amphibious assault ships (LSTs) that could carry loads of up to 2,000 tons. Equipped with bow doors and ramps, the LST also had a lift to carry vehicles from the upper deck.

In 1946, the Atlantic Steam Navigation Company, founded by a former British Army officer, chartered three of these LSTs. They were originally used on the Tilbury-Hamburg route to transport British Army personnel and equipment. However, in mid-1948 one of the ships, the Empire Cedric, which was converted to a ferry capable of carrying 50 people, operated the first commercial RoPax service between Preston (England, UK) and Larne (Northern Ireland).  Atlantic Steam Navigaton Added More Ships And Routes c, although the Empire Cedric was decommissioned in 1959 – the same year the Princess of Tasmania RoPax Australia National Line (334 passengers / 142 vehicles) began operations on the Bass Strait between Melbourne and Tasmania – and sold for scrap next year.

Currently, there are more than 1400 ro-ro vessels of all types and sizes in service. They are especially common in archipelagos or in countries with long coastlines, where scattered and remote settlements may not even have basic port facilities.

Based on this, RoPax is the predominant ferry type used on many seas and routes.

It continues to be the mainstay of maritime traffic between the British Isles and the island of Ireland. Examples are numerous in the Mediterranean, the Middle East (Persian Gulf and Red Sea), and the Far East (especially the Philippines, as well as Japan, China, and South Korea). In total, there are currently about 4,000 RoPax vessels of all types active (end of 2020).

In 1953, Rederi AB Soya, tested the chartered bulk carrier Jakara for the transport of vehicles. Temporary car decks were placed in the ship’s holds, which could then be removed so that bulk cargo could be transported. Loading was carried out using both the lift / lift (Lo / Lo) method and the use of side ramps. The following year, Wallenius received a long-term contract from Volkswagen to supply cars to the United States, and a year after that, he received what he claims was the world’s first purpose-built car transporter. These were vessels with a capacity of 290 units “Rigoletto” and “La Traviata”, for which loading and unloading was still Lo / Lo.

The world’s first Ro / Ro-class deep-sea car carrier – the Rigoletto and Traviata were still Lo / Low – actually preceded the specially designed and constructed Ro / Ro hybrid container ship. In 1963, Wallenius Lines launched the 2300 dwt / 240 dwt Aniara. Although it was fitted with a bow door, the ramp facility had to be equipped from shore. Wallenius still retains the Aniara name thanks to the light and truck carrier built in 2008 with a capacity of 8,000 vehicles.

The Norwegian company Dyvi Shipping, now the de facto tonnage supplier for NOCC, also claims to have operated the first purpose-built Ro / Ro car carrier, delivered in 1964 and having a capacity of 450 Dyvi Anglia vehicles. Compared to the Aniara, which looks like a (converted) conventional vessel, the Dyvi Anglia looks like a modern car ferry, with cars housed below one of five decks.

They were soon followed by specialized road carriers, which are more associated with today’s maritime transport, aided by the growing import and export trade in automobiles, in particular from Japan. These vessels had multiple decks, a high cubic capacity to deadweight ratio, high speed and, in particular, ramps designed to speed up cargo handling and minimize damage.

In 1968, the construction of a multi-tiered car carrier “Toyota Maru No. 1” with a capacity of 1250 vehicles was completed. Two years later, the Toyota Maru No. 10 with a capacity of 1250 cars, which was the first Japanese car carrier (PCC)

Indeed, the PCTC concept, which emerged in the late 1970s, further advanced the PCC. The absence of transverse bulkheads and the design of single-post vehicles provided fewer obstacles and more space for road construction and construction equipment, boats and other oversized cargo. As non-road goods become larger and heavier, the main decks and ramps are increasingly optimized and reinforced for transport. As a result, PCTC has become a serious competitor in particular in the transport of machinery and engineering products in all their forms.