China’s EV Boom Has Increased Demand for Cargo Ships

The nation is expected to more than double the size of its fleet

Cars awaiting shipping
Cars waiting to be loaded onto cargo ships at the Lianyungang Port in Lianyungang, in eastern China's Jiangsu province.
STR/AFP via Getty Images

As the auto industry evolves, the fortunes of other businesses wax and wane depending on what’s currently selling. A company producing batteries for EVs is likely doing more business now than it was a decade ago, for instance. But there are some larger-scale effects to a global boom in EVs as well — specifically, the growth of electric vehicles made by Chinese companies. Perhaps the biggest sign of Chinese EV growth is the growing demand for cargo ships to get those vehicles to destinations around the world.

Much has been written about Chinese automakers’ increased production of EVs. It’s one of the reasons some American automakers are looking to restrict their entry into the U.S. market. But it’s one thing to hear about the concern from elected officials about overseas auto production and another to learn that the shipbuilding industry is booming as a result of China’s EV sector. And yet that’s precisely what’s happening right now.

As Reuters reports (via Autoblog), China is set to more than double the number of cargo ships it has capable of carrying cars. At present, Reuters notes, it has 33; companies based in there have orders for 47 more. Or, to put it slightly differently, of all of the orders in for such vessels right now, fully a quarter of them were made by Chinese firms.

“We expect to see new trade routes established almost exclusively for Chinese OEMs (automakers),” industry analyst Andrea de Luca told Reuters.

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According to Reuters’s analysis, this will mean that Chinese companies will control the fourth-largest fleet of cargo ships capable of carrying cars by 2028. That’s still significantly less than some other countries — at present, Japan tops the list with 283 vessels, followed by Norway with 102. But it’s a sign of the growth of China’s EV industry — and its ambitious plans.

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