EVERYONE knows that as box ships get bigger there are fewer afloat and that they now dominate the Asia-Europe trade. Less widely known is that bigger ships than ever before are now dominating north-south trades.
The average vessel size on the Asia to Mexico trade increased 32 per cent between October 2015 and October 2018, from 6,402 TEU to 8,451 TEU, while average vessel sizes on the North Europe to Mexico trade increased 39.5 per cent, from 4,566 TEU to 6,369 TEU, notes Blue Water Reporting.
The sharp increase in average vessel size on the Asia to Mexico and North Europe to Mexico trades largely can be attributed to Mexico in general becoming a booming car manufacturing hub.
"Mexico has risen to become the seventh-largest car manufacturer in the world, and a large proportion of the additional container traffic is consigned to assembly plants and suppliers," said London's Drewry Maritime Research.
Said Drewry's container research chief Simon Heaney: "Based on our sample of Mexican ports, total port throughput was up by eight per cent year over year in the first half of 2018."
The Europe to South America west coast trade saw average vessel size increase 117.6 per cent between the October reporting periods in 2015 and 2018, from 3,757 TEU to 8,174 TEU, thanks to the Panama Canal expansion, said Blue Water Reporting.
Scrapping of smaller vessels continues to be way more common than the scrapping of larger vessels, which will continue to contribute to the steady increase in average vessel size on trade routes throughout the globe.
Data from Clarksons Research shows that containership demolition for 2018 is expected to total 67,400 TEU, down from 398,600 TEU in 2017, 654,400 TEU in 2016 and 197,200 TEU in 2015.
But demolition is expected to pick back up again in 2019 at 161,100 TEU. Of the 67,400 TEU expected to be scrapped in 2018, only 11.4 per cent will involve vessels of 6,000 or more, while of the 161,100 TEU expected to be scrapped in 2019, only 12.8 per cent will involve vessels of 6,000 TEU or more.