Skip to content
Call Now: 1-310-223-0474

RoRo Shipment vs. Container Car Shipping: Understanding the Difference

When transporting vehicles across long or short distances, it is essential that you take time to research and find the correct shipping method to use. Whether you’re relocating to a new country, buying a car from overseas, or sending a vehicle for commercial purposes, the safety and efficiency of your chosen shipping method can make a world of difference.

Two commonly used options for shipping commercial and private cars internationally are Roll-on/Roll-off car carrier, or Ro-Ro shipment, and container car shipping. In this blog post, we will shed some light on the key differences between these two car shipping services.

What is RoRo Shipping?

RoRo shipping, an abbreviation for Roll-on/Roll-off, is a widely used shipping method for transporting vehicles around the world. This specialized shipping technique involves loading vehicles onto Ro-Ro vessels, which are specifically designed to accommodate automobiles, trucks, railroad cars, and other wheeled cargo. The name itself reflects the seamless process of rolling vehicles onto the vessel during the loading phase and rolling them off at the final destination.

In Ro-Ro shipping, vehicles are driven onto the ship’s deck or into its designated cargo bays using ramps or elevators, which can either be shore-based or built-in. This loading method allows for quick and efficient cargo handling, eliminating the need for cranes or other heavy machinery. RoRo vessels are equipped with multiple decks to accommodate many vehicles, making them a suitable option for high-volume car shipments or military cargo.

What is Ro-Ro Shipping Used For?

Ro-Ro ships are widely regarded as the most efficient method of transporting vehicles and other cargo with their own wheels. One of the key applications of Ro-Ro ships is in the automotive industry. Car manufacturers and dealerships utilize Ro-Ro shipping to transport their vehicles from production plants to various markets worldwide. It enables them to efficiently distribute their products to different regions, ensuring a steady supply of vehicles for consumers.

Private car owners who are relocating to a new country or buying a car from overseas also rely on Ro-Ro shipping to transport their vehicles safely. By utilizing the services of a Roll-on/Roll-off ship, they can conveniently ship their personal vehicles, whether it’s a car, motorcycle, or other recreational vehicles, to their new destination.

However, RoRo ships are not limited to just small automobiles. They are also utilized for the transportation of trucks, trailers, buses, construction equipment, and other wheeled cargo. These vessels provide a cost-effective solution for businesses involved in industries such as logistics, construction, and agriculture, enabling them to ship their heavy machinery, semi-trailers, road vehicles, rolling equipment, commercial vehicles, military cargo, and specialized vehicles efficiently.

Advantages of Roll-on/Roll-off Ships for Freight Vehicle Transport

One of the key advantages of Ro-Ro shipment is its cost-effectiveness. Compared to other shipping methods, such as container car shipping, Roll-on/Roll-off offers a more economical transport solution, especially for transporting multiple vehicles or operational fleets.

The streamlined loading and unloading process also contribute to reduced labor costs and less cargo handling. By eliminating the need for cranes or other heavy machinery typically used in heavy cargo handling, they minimize equipment requirements and associated labor costs. This efficient utilization of resources contributes to a more economical and cost-effective transportation solution.

Additionally, Ro-Ro shipment ensures simplicity and convenience throughout the transportation process. Since vehicles are driven onto the vessel, there is no need for dismantling or extra packaging. This makes it an ideal choice to transport vehicles that are in operational condition. Furthermore, the absence of containers and the wide stern ramp provides ample space to accommodate bigger vehicles, such as industrial vehicles, buses, or heavy machinery.

Safety is a paramount concern when it comes to transporting vehicles, and Ro-Ro shipping is generally considered a safe method for moving cars and other wheeled cargo. Vehicles remain securely parked and immobilized within the ship’s designated parking spaces or compartments, minimizing the potential for collisions or shifting during the journey. Additionally, Ro-Ro vessels are designed to withstand various weather conditions, ensuring the safety of the cargo throughout the voyage.

Finally, RoRo ships are recognized for their positive environmental impact. Compared to traditional container ships, Ro-Ro vessels emit fewer greenhouse gases and pollutants due to their optimized design and operational practices. This reduction in emissions helps to mitigate the environmental impact of transportation activities, aligning with the industry’s growing emphasis on sustainable and eco-friendly solutions.

What Are the Different Types of RoRo Vessels?

Ro-Ro vessels, also known as Roll-on/Roll-off vessels, come in various types, each catering to specific transportation needs, cargo requirements, and even passenger accommodation. Understanding the different types of Ro-Ro vessels can help in selecting the most suitable option for shipping your vehicle or other wheeled cargo. Let’s explore some of the common types:

1. Pure Car Carriers (PCC):

Pure Car Carriers (PCC) are specifically designed to transport automobiles, primarily cars, in a safe and efficient manner. These vessels feature multiple decks with adjustable built-in ramps that allow vehicles to be easily driven on and off the ship. Pure Car Carriers are equipped with specialized equipment and technologies to secure and protect vehicles on the vehicle deck during transit.

2. Pure Car Truck Carrier (PCTC):

Pure Car Truck Carriers are similar to PCCs but offer other cargo decks and additional flexibility by accommodating both cars and trucks. These vessels have varying deck heights to accommodate different vehicle sizes and may feature hoistable decks to allow for multiple configurations, maximizing cargo space and versatility.

3. ConRo (Container-RoRo) Vessels:

ConRo, or RoCon, vessels combine the functionalities of a container ship and a Roll-on/Roll-off ship. These ships have a large cargo capacity for containers while also providing dedicated RoRo decks for vehicle storage. ConRo vessels offer the advantage of carrying both wheeled vehicles and containerized freight, making them suitable for shipments that involve a combination of vehicles and goods.

4. RoPax (RoRo Passenger) Vessels:

RoPax vessels are a hybrid vessel type that combines RoRo freight vehicle transport capabilities with passenger accommodation. A passenger ship like this not only transports vehicles but also accommodates travelers, providing amenities such as cabins, restaurants, and lounges. RoPax vessels are commonly used for transporting both passengers and vehicles between ports, especially in areas with frequent ferry and passenger ship traffic traveling short distances.

5. RoLo (Roll-on/Lift-off) Vessels:

RoLo vessels are designed to transport a variety of wheeled cargo, including vehicles, trailers, and heavy machinery. Unlike traditional RoRo vessels, RoLo vessels have onboard cranes to lift off vehicles and cargo, as well as ramps serving vehicle decks to load and unload cargo that cannot be driven onto the ship. This versatility allows for the transportation of a wide range of wheeled cargo. Just as the name suggests, a RoLo ship uses a unique combination of “roll on and lift off”.

These are some of the main types of RoRo vessels used for transporting vehicles and other wheeled cargo. The choice of vessel depends on factors such as the type and size of the cargo, the destination, and the specific requirements of the shipment.

How Many Cars Can Be Loaded onto a RoRo Vessel?

A RoRo ship boasts impressive capacities that can accommodate numerous vehicles in a single voyage. The specific number of cars that can be loaded onto a RoRo vessel depends on various factors, such as the size of the vessel, the layout of the cargo decks, and the dimensions of the vehicles being transported.

RoRo vessels are designed with multiple decks and dedicated cargo holds, maximizing the available space for vehicle transportation. These ships often feature adjustable ramps or elevators that allow cars and other vehicles to be driven directly onto the ship for loading and unloading. The flexibility of these ramps enables efficient utilization of deck space and facilitates the stacking of vehicles to optimize capacity.

The greatest car carrying capacity of a RoRo vessel can vary widely depending on its size and design. Larger RoRo vessels, such as PCCs and PCTCs, are capable of carrying thousands of vehicles. These vessels have multiple vehicle decks that can accommodate rows of vehicles in various configurations and of varying cargo length, making them suitable for high-volume car shipments.

To give you an idea, a larger RoRo ship can transport anywhere from 4,000 to 8,000 standard-sized cars in a single voyage. However, it’s important to note that the actual car capacity per RoRo ship can differ based on the size of the vehicles being transported. Larger vehicles, such as trucks or buses, may take up more space on the vehicle decks, resulting in a lower total car count.

Furthermore, RoRo ships offer versatility in accommodating a range of vehicle types, from compact cars to SUVs and even oversized vehicles like construction machinery or recreational vehicles. The deck layouts and adjustable configurations on these vessels allow for efficient storage of different vehicle sizes, maximizing the available capacity.

It’s worth mentioning that car capacity may also be influenced by any additional cargo or personal belongings being transported alongside the vehicles. Some RoRo ships also handle containers (vs. a pure car carrier ship) and offer options for shared or exclusive container use, allowing for the inclusion of extra items. However, it’s essential to comply with regulations and restrictions regarding additional RoRo cargo to ensure the safety and stability of the entire shipment.

Is Ro-Ro Shipping Safe?

Ro-Ro shipping is generally considered a safe method for transporting vehicles. RoRo vessels are equipped with safety features to secure vehicles during transit, and experienced professionals handle the loading and unloading processes.

Additionally, stringent safety regulations and inspections ensure compliance and enhance overall safety. While unforeseen incidents can occur, the RoRo carriers’ commitment to safety measures mitigates risks and maintains a high level of safety in Ro-Ro shipping operations.

What is the Difference Between Ro-Ro Shipping and Container Car Shipping?

While RoRo shipping involves loading vehicles directly onto specialized RoRo vessels, container car shipping entails transporting vehicles inside enclosed containers on a container ship. With container shipping, vehicles are securely loaded into containers, which are then placed onto container ships to transport vehicles.

So what are the key differences between the two shipping methods?

1. Versatility

RoRo shipping is highly versatile and suitable for a wide range of vehicles, including cars, trucks, buses, and heavy machinery. The design of RoRo vessels allows for the transportation of both operational and non-operational vehicles.

While container car shipping is primarily used for cars, it also offers flexibility in accommodating personal belongings or additional RoRo cargo along with the vehicle. This feature can be beneficial for individuals who want to ship their cars and belongings together.

2. Risk of Cargo Damage

Container car shipping offers a higher level of protection for vehicles compared to RoRo shipping, making it less likely for cars to get damaged during transit. The use of enclosed containerized freight shields vehicles from external elements such as weather conditions, debris, and potential impacts.

The secure and confined space within the container minimizes the risk of scratches, dents, or other types of physical damage that could occur in an open deck environment. Additionally, the ability to pack and secure the vehicle along with personal belongings provides an extra layer of protection against cargo damage. Container car shipping is often favored for transporting high-value or classic cars that require optimal safety and security during transportation.

3. Journey Time

RoRo shipping generally offers faster transit times compared to container car shipping. The streamlined loading and unloading process of RoRo vessels minimizes turnaround times at ports, reducing the overall operational speed of the journey. With container shipping, the additional steps of loading and unloading vehicles into containers can contribute to increased transit durations.

4. Costs

RoRo shipping is generally a more cost-effective option compared to container car shipping on traditional ships. The simplified loading and unloading process reduces labor and cargo handling costs, making it a more economical choice, especially for multiple-vehicle shipments. Meanwhile, the cost of container car shipping is influenced by factors such as container size, destination, and additional services like packing and loading assistance.

5. Insurance

While Ro-Ro shipping may be cheaper than container shipping, it often comes with limited insurance coverage. This is because no port inspection reports are typically issued, making it challenging to determine if and when any damage occurred and to file an insurance claim accordingly.

Additionally, RoRo shipments are often only insured for total loss, which means that coverage for individual damages may be limited. As a result, it is important to carefully consider the potential risk of damage and repair costs versus the actual shipping expenses when opting for a RoRo service.

How Can CFR Classic Help?

At CFR Classic, we understand the importance of selecting the most suitable shipping method for your valuable vehicles. As a leading car shipping company with years of expertise in the industry, we are committed to providing reliable and secure transportation solutions.

Whether you opt for our RoRo or container shipping service, CFR Classic is here to provide you with exceptional car shipping services. Our experienced team will guide you through the process and ensure the seamless and secure transport of your vehicle. Trust CFR Classic for reliable and efficient car shipping solutions that meet your specific requirements.

Joey has spent his entire teen and adult life in cars. Joey's father owned a Jeep store, and Joey had his own used car lot that he ran himself from age 22 until I was 30. At 30 years old, Joey got "out of" the car business and joined CFR Rinkens. Joey started when there were only 9 people at CFR, but the company grew to over 150 employees during his time there. When Joey started, CFR Rinkens was shipping about 40 vehicles per week from Los Angeles. Joey established locations in Houston, Miami, and New York and within the first year, CFR went to shipping 150 cars per week. Joey started as a customer service rep and later moved up to sales manager, operations manager, and marketing manager. Joey then moved to Europe for two years and spent the entire time traveling through Europe meeting with clients. In 2022, Joey and his partners purchased CFR Classic from CFR Rinkens and he returned to California to watch over the operation more closely.

Our shed plan library represents our commitment to providing shed plans that are well designed and as a result help you to have a good shed building experience. We are the top shed plan site on the internet and we provide an easy way to buy shed plans to get your shed building project off the ground. Dormer Storage Shed PlansBuilding a dormer on your backyard shed is the perfect way to add more light inside and create a truly stunning shed on the outside. Traditionally the dormer roof was invented to add space to an existing attic space for a sleeping or storage area. In our shed plans the dormer roof adds additional storage space and light. Find DIY projects, free woodworking plans, and home improvement tips. Build your next project with our easy to follow plans, Chicken Coop Plans