20-foot containers, along with larger 40-foot containers, are one of the most commonly used types of intermodal containers used by ocean-going freight vessels. If you are moving overseas or need to transport two vehicles on an ocean-going vessel for any other reason, you may be wondering if you can fit them both into a 20-foot container, and whether or not doing so is a good idea.
Below, A-1 Auto Transport will discuss all of your options for shipping your cars via an ocean-going freight vessel, including the use of a 20-foot container. Let’s get started.
Can 2 Cars Fit Into A 20-Foot Container?
It’s not possible to fit two cars into a 20-foot shipping container unless you’re using a container that’s equipped with specialized racking that allows the vehicles to be stored at an angle, or on top of each other.
This is because most vehicles, when parked flat, are much longer than you may think. A Mini Cooper, for example, is about 12 feet from tip to trunk – and even a Toyota Corolla, which is considered to be a small passenger car, is more than 15 feet long. The only vehicle that is short enough to be crammed two-by-two into a shipping container is a Smart Car, which is only about 9 feet long.
Because of this, you’ll need to work with a specialized shipping provider to ship two standard cars in a 20-foot container. Similar to how a truck-based car carrier can store vehicles on top of each other, some cargo containers are available with lifts and specialized equipment that lets you store each vehicle at an angle, or even stack the cars on top of each other, as you can see in this simplified illustration:
As you might expect, though, this increases risk when shipping. If the equipment securing your vehicles fails in transit, both cars could be seriously damaged. It’s recommended to purchase the appropriate insurance when shipping two cars in a 20-foot container to ensure you do not suffer losses if there is an issue with the equipment securing your vehicles.
In addition, it still may not be possible to fit longer cars like SUVs or pickup trucks into a single 20-foot cargo container. They are simply too large, heavy, and bulky in most cases.
How Can I Ship Two Cars With Container Shipping?
If you are looking to ship two vehicles using a shipping container, it may be a better option to use two 20-foot containers, or to use a single 40-foot container, particularly if you’re shipping two trucks or SUVs. This way, you can still keep your vehicles in a protected, enclosed container, while eliminating the complications and risks of shipping 2 cars in a 20-foot container.
Of these two options, it will usually be more cost-effective to use a single 40-foot container. Shipping a single 40-foot container usually is only about 75% of the cost of shipping two 20-foot containers – this is because there is less labor involved in loading and unloading only a single container, as opposed to two.
Do I Have Any Options For Shipping Cars Besides Using A Container?
Yes. If you’re shipping one or more cars overseas using an ocean-going freight carrier, RoRo (roll on, roll off) shipping is faster, safer, and simpler compared to using a cargo container. It’s a superior option in every way, compared to shipping 2 cars in a 20-foot or 40-foot cargo container.
RoRo shipping uses specialized cargo vessels that are designed specifically for transporting cars and trucks, as well as other types of wheeled vehicles including heavy construction equipment and machinery. Your vehicle is not stored in a container at all, and is simply driven onto the vessel and is parked in the cargo hold.
The inside of a RoRo vessel looks similar to a parking garage, with multiple levels of parking space. Each space is equipped with heavy-duty tie downs and safety equipment that ensures that your vehicle can be safely secured throughout the transportation process. This provides you with a number of benefits:
- Lower overall cost – There are minimal labor costs associated with loading and unloading wheeled vehicles using RoRo shipping, and the process is much simpler and more efficient compared to cargo containers. This results in a lower overall cost for the service, which is passed on to customers.
- Reduced risk of vehicle damage – Because there’s no need to store two cars above each other, there is a lower overall risk of vehicle damage, compared to trying to ship multiple cars in a shipping container. Each car you ship will get its own parking spot, and will be tied down to ensure that it doesn’t shift and hit the surrounding vehicles at any point. Your car will be completely safe.
- Faster & simpler loading and unloading – It can take anywhere from 1-3 days to load and unload a container ship, since each container must be removed one-by-one, processed, and sent to the proper destination. If your container is deep within the ship, it may be a long time before you can load or unload it.
But in contrast, a RoRo ship can usually be unloaded in less than a day or a matter of hours, since the cars, trucks, and other equipment will simply be driven on and off of the vessel once it reaches port.
- Guaranteed arrival and delivery times – Because the logistics of loading and unloading a RoRo vessel are much simpler, they can typically offer guaranteed arrival and delivery times for your vehicles, which is a great benefit if you will need access to your cars right away. In contrast, container ship timelines are usually a bit more flexible, and may not have a guaranteed arrival or delivery time.
- Protected from the elements – You may think that your car will be exposed to the elements on the deck of the ship, but this is not the case. Today’s RoRo ships store vehicles within a large cargo hold, which is either fully or partially enclosed, providing protection from the elements and keeping your car in great shape.
Learn More About RoRo Shipping – A Better Alternative To Cargo Containers For Cars!
At A-1 Auto Transport, we have provided thousands of customers with the RoRo service they need to transport their vehicles safely, quickly, and economically. With our team of transport experts, you can quickly ship 1, 2, or more vehicles anywhere in the world with RoRo shipping – at a reasonable cost.
Thanks to our extensive network of partners, we can help you get the freight shipping services you need for your vehicles at a reasonable price. Ready to get started and ship your vehicles? Contact A-1 Auto Transport online now, or give us a call at (800) 452-2880. Our team is always standing by to help with auto transportation services both domestically and internationally.
Written By:Joe Webster
Joe Webster began his journey in the auto transport field by attending the University of Southern California (USC), where he graduated with a Bachelor of Business Marketing.
After college, he started his career in the auto transport industry from the bottom up and has done virtually every job there is to do at A-1 Auto Transport, including but not limited to: Truck Driver, Dispatch, Sales, PR, Bookkeeping, Transport Planner, Transport Manager, International Transport Manager, Brokering, Customer Service, and Marketing. Working with his mentor Tony Taylor, Joe Webster has learned the ins and outs of this industry which is largely misunderstood.
With over 30 years experience in the industry, we've been helping people ship their vehicles, motorcycles, RV's, heavy equipment, household goods and more across the country or overseas without a hitch. Ask us anything.