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How Car Shipping Works

RunBuggy helps car shippers move cars easily

Convenience and efficiency drive the automobile transport business. It’s somewhat ironic that automobiles are transported since they themselves are designed and built to provide transportation. Millions of vehicles, however, must be carried by truck, railroad or large ship every year for a variety of reasons.

New cars can’t be driven to their respective dealerships because consumers would consider them used vehicles. More than 16 million new vehicles were sold in the US in 2019. Most of these vehicles were manufactured in assembly plants located throughout North America, with the rest imported from Europe or Asia. 

Consider the organizational demands of Ford Motor Co. in North America. Ford has 13 full production plants that produce over 2 million vehicles. These cars, trucks and SUVs must be delivered to 4,000 plus dealers. These are not random deliveries, like a load of paper towels dropped off at a supermarket: Dealers order specific vehicles from each production plant, and the correct vehicles must be properly routed through multiple channels for a timely and damage-free delivery

Methods Of Auto Transport

Vehicles can be transported by airplane, large ship, railroad, car or truck.

Going By Rail

Automakers estimate that 65-70 percent of all new vehicles sold in the U.S. will travel on rail before an 18 wheeler auto transport tractor-trailer makes the final delivery to the dealer. The average distance for truck transport falls within a 250-mile radius of the pickup point. Longer routes then become more cost effective by rail.

Although the majority of vehicles assembled in North America will travel by rail, autos collectively make up a very small percentage of overall rail-cargo transport in America.

Going By Truck

Every new vehicle at some point in its delivery to the dealership is carried by truck transport. It’s not hard for automakers to roll up the mileage. Toyota alone averages 45 million total highway miles annually to deliver 2 million vehicles to nearly 1,500 Toyota and Lexus dealers across the country.

Today’s tractor-trailer auto transporters can carry up to 12 vehicles. The rigs are designed so that the tractor can support up to four vehicles and eight vehicles are placed on the double-deck trailer. The tractor-trailer rigs utilize hydraulically operated ramps. Each ramp can be lowered or raised to provide a smooth approach for loading or to clear vehicles under it when the trailer is fully loaded. The ramps can also be tilted to maximize the available space by tucking the end of one vehicle under another

Personal Auto Transport

Each year, millions of vehicles are transported to meet personal needs, such as:

  • Families moving cross-country
  • Students going to college a long distance from home
  • “Snowbirds” moving to South for the winter
  • Corporate relocation

Some of these situations are one-time needs and the car owner will hire an auto-transport company.  Other one-time need examples include car collectors or enthusiasts who display their pristine vehicles at car shows or weekend racers who compete at area tracks.

Future Of Auto Transport

Finally, big rigs are getting greener with clean diesel engines, biofuels and improved exhaust treatments. The next-generation of trucks will also include hybrid models with electric motor  assist, similar to the Toyota Prius. An electric motor will be used for acceleration and low-speed driving, then power from the diesel engine will blend in for more efficient cruising. The logistics management systems are also evolving. What used to be done with a clipboard and fax machines is now being done on mobile devices with sophisticated load matching algorithms that allow transporters to claim orders nearby and guide them to the drop-off destination.

Integrated Technology 

In the modern world, everything depends on evolving technology, and the shipping industry is no exception. Transport providers strive to keep up with the rapidly evolving technology in shipping to make national car forwarding easy and convenient. Customers benefit from the latest technology in the shipping industry with access to a lot of new tools in a few clicks. 

Car transportation has been streamlined.  

RunBuggy is the largest open car transportation marketplace connecting thousands of shippers and haulers in real time.  

RunBuggy provides an a easy to use interface, automation of routine tasks, streamlined chat communication capabilities and greater transparency from pick up to drop off en all your order activity will be on one screen, designed to streamline processes in auto transport,.

To learn more please visit or click here to schedule a demo.