Auto transport industry statistics 2024

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Domestic and international commerce has rapidly been transformed by recent global events, including the COVID-19 pandemic, the unrest in Eastern Europe and the Middle East, and the ongoing geopolitical tensions in Asia and the Pacific. These changes have led to unprecedented shifts in transportation supply and demand. Moreover, emerging challenges include understanding the impact of telework and e-commerce on transportation, as well as assessing supply chain performance, vulnerability, and resilience. Addressing sustainability and climate concerns also play crucial roles in influencing the transportation industry.

In particular, issues in the automotive industry have emerged, such as the global shortage of automotive chips and the increasing price of raw materials. The reduction in production output has led to inflation in light vehicle prices and restricted options for vehicles in the U.S., affecting the overall experience of car buyers.

Key insights

In 2023, about 3.12 million cars were sold in the U.S., resulting in approximately $15.5 million in combined sales of cars and light trucks.

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The vehicle shipping services industry in the U.S. had a revenue-based market size of $9.9 billion in 2023.

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The top five destinations for car shipping are Los Angeles, Houston, New York City, Miami and Dallas.

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In the U.S., cars are commonly transported across the country using trucks. The cost of shipping a vehicle varies from 53 cents per mile to more than $2.30 per mile.

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Auto transport statistics

The strong demand for motor vehicles in the U.S. is driving a robust automotive industry, which has been steadily recovering from the challenges stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • By March 2023, 75% of the U.S. population reported having their own car, and an additional 20% mentioned having access to a company or family vehicle.
  • In 2023, the U.S. auto industry sold close to 3.12 million cars, contributing to a total of around $15.5 million in car and light truck sales.
  • Despite the semiconductor shortage, light trucks continue to dominate as the most popular vehicle in the country. In 2023, approximately 79.9% of the total light vehicles sold in the U.S. were light trucks.
  • The market for electric energy vehicles has experienced a surge in popularity. In the U.S. in 2022, sales of plug-in electric light vehicles reached nearly 918,500 units, marking a 51.2% year-over-year increase.
  • In 2023, the U.S. revenue-based market size of the vehicle shipping services industry was $9.9 billion.

How can I move my car?

There are various options to transport a car to another state. Your choice may depend on budget, timeline and how much environmental exposure you're willing to allow for your vehicle.

  • Hire an auto transport company: This is the most convenient way to transport your car. First ascertain whether any company you’re considering is licensed and insured for interstate transportation. You can verify a company’s credentials by checking its U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) number on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s website. Additionally, do your research and look for favorable online reviews.
  • Transport via moving company: If you're already using a full-service mover for your belongings, check if they can also transport your car.
  • Hitch your car to a moving truck: If you're driving a rental moving truck, you might be able to tow your car using a tow dolly or car trailer. Make sure to confirm with the rental company if they permit this option.
  • Hire a professional driver: Choose a concierge transport service that pre-vets their drivers and includes insurance coverage. Although this option can be expensive and adds mileage to your vehicle, it provides a personalized touch.
  • Ship via train: For routes along the East Coast, consider using the Amtrak Auto Train to transport your vehicle.
  • Ship via boat: Primarily used for international shipping, maritime transport is also an option for domestic transfers, albeit less common.

When choosing the type of shipping, you have two options:

  • Open shipping: This is a more affordable choice, where your car is exposed to the elements and road conditions, which could include debris and bad weather. This option may also result in wear on your vehicle’s shock absorbers.
  • Closed shipping: This shipping method provides more protection, as your car is transported in an enclosed container, reducing the risk of damage from external conditions. Enclosed shipping typically involves fewer vehicles per container, providing more space for your car during transit.

Where are cars shipped to most?

The popularity of destinations for shipping cars is influenced by several important factors, including city size, location and weather. City size matters because larger cities can accommodate a greater number of potential customers. Location is another key factor, with cities close to major highways being particularly attractive. Additionally, strong economic ties with nearby cities contribute to the appeal of urban centers for car shipping.

Weather also plays a role, affecting the demand for car shipping services. Many Americans move with their vehicles to warmer regions during the winter and cooler areas during the summer.

The top five car shipping destinations, according to Ship a Car Inc., are as follows:

  • Los Angeles
  • Houston
  • New York City
  • Miami
  • Dallas

How long should delivery take?

According to J&S Transportation, the delivery time for a vehicle typically ranges from one to seven days. However, this time frame is influenced by four main factors:

  • Route distance: Short distances of a few hundred miles can result in delivery within a day or two, whereas cross-country transport can extend the delivery time up to a week or longer.
  • Location: Both the pickup and the destination locations affect delivery time.
  • Vehicle type: Certain vehicles require additional time, as they need to be matched with the appropriate truck for shipping. For instance, larger vehicles may necessitate extra time to find a truck with a suitable trailer.
  • Time of the year: Delivery time can be impacted by seasonal factors, especially in winter when adverse weather conditions can cause delays. Conversely, warmer months are the peak moving season for car haulers and moving companies.

A 2022 Statista survey on acceptable delivery times for vehicle delivery found that 18% of U.S. participants expected delivery within a week. In contrast, the largest share of respondents from all surveyed countries considered three to four weeks to be an acceptable time frame for auto delivery.

Auto transport costs

The cost of shipping depends on factors such as transportation method, starting and ending locations, season and the type of vehicle being moved. In the U.S., cars are typically transported across the country via trucks, which can cover several thousand miles in just a few days. The price of shipping a vehicle ranges from 53 cents per mile to over $2.30 per mile. On average, you might pay around $500 for a short-distance shipment, and approximately $1,700 for a cross-country delivery.

FAQ

How much will it cost me to ship my car?

The cost of shipping a vehicle via truck (the most popular alternative in the U.S.) can vary significantly, ranging from 53 cents per mile to over $2.30 per mile. On average, expect to pay about $500 for a short-distance shipment, and approximately $1,700 for a cross-country delivery.

What is the estimated delivery time when shipping my car?

The delivery time for a vehicle typically ranges from one to seven days. However, the shipment is influenced by several factors, such as the distance of the route, pickup and delivery locations, the time of year and the type of vehicle being transported.

What is the most convenient way to transport my car across the U.S.?

Opting for a reliable auto transport company can be the most convenient choice to transport a vehicle, as they handle most of the work. Make sure that any company you are considering is licensed and insured for interstate transportation.


References

  1. “Transportation Statistics Annual Report 2023.” U.S. Department of Transportation. Evaluated April 23, 2024.Link Here
  2. Carlier, M. “Automotive industry in the United States - statistics & facts.” Statista. Evaluated April 23, 2024.Link Here
  3. Carlier, M. “Auto Dealers in the United States - Facts & Statistics.” Statista. Evaluated April 25, 2024.Link Here
  4. Carlier, M. “Annual passenger car sales in the United States from 1951 to 2023.” Statista. Evaluated April 25, 2024.Link Here
  5. “Vehicle Shipping Services in the US - Market Size (2005–2029).” IBISWorld. Evaluated April 23, 2024.Link Here
  6. “Top Car Shipping Destinations: A Look at the Most Popular Routes.” Ship a Car Inc. Evaluated April 25, 2024.Link Here
  7. Carlier, M. “U.S. light truck retail sales from 1980 to 2023.” Statista. Evaluated April 25, 2024.Link Here
  8. “Top Car Shipping Destinations in the U.S.” Tempus Logix. Evaluated April 27, 2024.Link Here
  9. Van Slooten, T. “How Long Does it Take to Ship a Car?” J&S Transportation. Evaluated April 27, 2024.Link Here
  10. Carlier, M. “Length of time consumers would accept to wait for the delivery of their next vehicle as of October 2022, by selected country.” Statista. Evaluated April 25, 2024.Link Here
  11. La Face, S. “Racing towards the future of auto transport.” Maersk. Evaluated April 27, 2024.Link Here

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