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Auto Transport During Coronavirus

Auto Transport During Coronavirus

Over the past few months, the idea of a “normal day” has been significantly challenged by the new Covid-19 pandemic. Every facet of daily life has changed for most people, including car transporters and other transportation specialists. Auto transport during coronavirus is still happening, but the virus has certainly impacted the industry – and those that work within it.

Therefore, it’s important to know how the industry is doing and how it’s combating this unprecedented time in all our lives. From changes to prices and availability to how carriers are working within the new confines of social distancing and self-isolation, it’s good to know.

That’s why in this blog post, we’re going to go over how the car shipping industry has been impacted by this novel new virus and what it means for you.

Auto transport during coronavirus – the big picture

When the stay-at-home orders first started popping up, it wasn’t that big of a deal. The industry was still in the midst of the winter shipping season, which already sees lower-than-desired volume. With fewer cars being shipped, fewer carriers are on the road, and prices drop. This is a seasonal industry, and everything was relatively normal during winter.

But once stay-at-home orders became prevalent across the nation, volume plummeted. Auto transportation services are often tied to the health of the economy, believe it or not. As more people have money to spend, they are able to expand their purchase range, for instance, since they could afford to ship a car they buy online.

More people have more money when the economy is good, so they can do more things, like ship their vehicles.

But the economy during the coronavirus is in the tank, and with unemployment in the U.S. over 27%, not a lot of people have extra money to spend. So volume – the number of vehicles shipping at any given time – has dropped drastically.

What happens when volume tanks? Prices drop. This is why prices are lower in the winter than the summer – fewer people are shipping. We saw a roughly 75% drop in volume on the main industry load boards within the first two months of the Covid-19 pandemic coming to the U.S.

Now, prices have dropped so low that some carriers are operating at a loss because it’s still better than not running their routes at all.

Right now, it’s a great time to find cheap auto shipping rates.

How customers are responding to the virus

The biggest impact on auto transport during coronavirus is the overall dearth of new customers. The snowbird season came early thanks to the virus, with many people who normally ship in May and June shipping in March.

Many more snowbirds opted to simply drive their vehicles home rather than ship them and fly. Considering many snowbirds are elderly, this is a wise life decision, even if it does hurt the industry bottom line.

One of the side effects of snowbirds not shipping is that rates from the southeast to the northeast are cheaper than they’ve been in years. You can lock in a cheap auto transport price today by giving us a call.

However, the outlook is growing. With some states easing stay-at-home restrictions, we’ve seen a gradual increase in volume, with an almost 50% uptick between March 15th and May 15th. This, of course, means prices are going up, but also means that more people are shipping, which means carriers can stay on the road.

But many other customers are changing their car transport plans altogether. We saw a large increase in the number of cancellations or deferred shipments, with many people opting to wait to ship until the danger has passed.

And while auto transportation is not the most face-to-face of businesses, pickup and delivery still require customers to meet their carriers in person. The virus has driven the rise of alternative drop off locations, such as dealerships or even hotel parking lots.

How carriers are responding to the virus

On the flip side, carriers have been having a much harder time during the coronavirus. While customers enjoy rock-bottom prices the likes of which we haven’t seen in over a decade, carriers are struggling mightily. Few are making a profit right now. Most carriers – and even most brokers out there – are being forced to cut losses and reduce their operations in order to remain open.

We’ve heard it from numerous carriers: they’ve had to let drivers go, or they’re operating at a loss, or they’ve had to change their normal routes. Many more carriers are having to cancel freight because they cannot run even a half load out of some areas. It’s a hard time for trucks on the road right now.

Another major shift is the way that carriers build their loads. Typically, they search for cars in a given area – usually within 50-100 miles of their other pickups or drop-offs – and build a load based on the route they run. However, carriers have had to adjust to different routes in order to follow the freight due to a lack of overall volume.

But volume isn’t the only reason. Many truck drivers – including those in other industries than auto transport – have had a hard time finding open truck stops or restaurants to sleep or eat at. And while this doesn’t impact customers much, it does impact where carriers can drive. They won’t run a route where they have to drive 500 miles between meals, for instance.

How you can stay safe during the virus

A major positive for auto shippers is the fact that they stay relatively isolated while on the road. It’s hard to interact with people when you’re stuck behind the wheel of a large transport truck for hours on end, after all. This means that carriers actually have lower transmission rates than most other face-to-face jobs right now.

That’s not to say, of course, that they’re immune to it, so it’s important to still follow all social distancing guidelines. Carriers are working extra hard to stay safe due to how many different places they travel during a given day.

Many carriers have implemented extra precautions such as sanitizing steering wheels of vehicles they load and unload, washing hands more frequently, and packing more foods from home to minimize stops at restaurants and truck stops.

Ultimately, the same basic tips apply for meeting with your carrier that applies to meeting with anyone else. Avoid shaking hands or other types of direct contact, make sure to have some disinfectant wipes on hand, and follow all the rest of the CDC’s official guidelines for keeping yourself safe. Carriers are doing it for customers, so please do the same in return.

Tips for auto transport during coronavirus

As mentioned, now is a great time to find cheap car transport rates. Though volume is down, most carriers that operate during the slow season are still on the road.

Don’t be concerned as much with time. Of course, if you need your vehicle picked up by a certain date, let us know! But things are taking longer as carriers on the road have to deal with new and unexpected issues. Load cancellations are far more common than they normally are during this time of year, especially for carriers that book shipments weeks in advance.

Load cancellations can derail an entire load and force carriers to stay in the same location for longer. This, in turn, impacts the pickup or delivery dates of every other vehicle that they are hauling, so delays are much more common.

At the same time, though, carriers are snatching up any freight they can get their hands on because of the issues outlined above. So it’s important to make yourself available starting immediately and be prepared for quick pickup, especially if you’re shipping to and from densely populated areas.

Ultimately, for most car shippers, it’s business as usual for the most part. While carriers and brokers together are having a harder time finding new customers, there’s still enough to allow most of us to keep doing what we’re doing. With rates where they are, booking now to ship is a great idea, and prices should stay low even into the summer months unless the country reopens quickly.

American Auto Shipping is here to help you

No matter where you’re shipping from or to, American Auto Shipping can help. With over twenty years of experience in the auto transportation industry, we know how to weather unusual circumstances like this one. We price our freight to move and we keep up with all the latest pricing trends so you’re getting the best rates regardless of when or where you’re shipping.

If you’re looking to transport a car, take a minute to fill out our free, no-personal-information-required quote request form right at the top of this page. Conversely, you can contact one of our transport specialists at any time to get a quote, ask questions, get advice, and more.

So no matter what you’re moving, where you’re moving it to or from, or when you need to do it, American Auto Shipping can help you get it done, even in these most trying of times.

Dave Armstrong
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