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2021 Shipping Movements

Mr Miserable

Supporting Member
Jul 8, 2019
4,382
8,042
UK
I thought I would start a new thread for 2021 on European bound ships carrying Teslas.
The first logical question is why on earth would anyone on a Tesla forum be interested in shipping?
The answer is because once you have ordered your revolutionary expensive new car you enter the Tesla blackout zone - a frustrating period of non-communication from Tesla when you have no idea of what is happening with your order. If you call them, they just say they 'are waiting for a match'. What does that mean? Tesla don't build Model 3s to order - they build what they want and then match their production to what has been ordered. This 'matching' usually happens around the time the car is loaded on to a ship. Aha! Shipping has suddenly become interesting!

US manufactured Model 3s are made at the Tesla Fremont factory and then transported by road 50 miles to San Francisco's Pier 80 where they are loaded into exclusively chartered RoRo vehicle carriers for the jouney to Europe. It takes 2-3 days to load, and then a further 8 days to sail down to Panama. Usually the ships will wait at the entrance to the canal until the early hours of the morning when the northbound flow begins and 8 hours later they emerge into the Caribbean for the 11 - 12 day transit to Zeebrugge, which is the main point of entry for Tesla European sales. After unloading the LHD cars, the ship will generally then head for Southampton.
Not every ship that will load at Pier 80 will be heading to Europe, some head to the Far East.

I should also mention that Model S / X are shipped partially disassembled in containers via rail to Houston and then shipped to Rotterdam for the required reassembly in Tilburg in Holland before being delivered to the UK.

Chinese Model 3s are made in the Shanghai gigafactory and are shipped to Zeebrugge through the Suez Canal in a journey taking about 30 days. So far we have only seen LHD SR+ being shipped but there is gossip that China will supply all RHD Model 3 and Model Y in the future, but there is no timeframe or evidence to support that chatter, yet. Monitoring Shanghai shipping is not as as easy as San Francisco although the 2 shipments made in 2020 Q4 were fairly easy to spot.

If you are in Auz/NZ, I am afraid I won't be covering any of your shipments. They are generally by container from Oakland and I expect shortly from Shanghai too by RoRo.

If you are in Dubai, your Model 3 will be loaded on to a ship that heads initially to Zeebrugge before heading subsequently to Jebel Ali. Accordingly, you should expect your cars to be onboard on one of the earlier vessels.

I mentioned Q4 earlier- this is because Tesla work in quarters with Q1 running from Jan to Mar. The Tesla business model requires as many cars as possible produced in a quarter to be paid for (delivered) in that same quarter.
This means that in Q1 the last ship will leave for Europe no later than around 26 Feb in order to allow for a 3 week transit to Zeebrugge and then a hectic delivery push in the last 10 days or so of March. It is logical then in early January to expect to see a large number of RHD models for the UK market to be clogging the production lines. This explains the feast or famine nature of Tesla logistics.
To add to the end of quarter rush, (Tesla excel at end of quarter rushes) Tesla may also ship cars overland to the East coast of the USA and ship them to Europe from either Newark or Philadelphia. This is a much more expensive route and so may not happen every quarter. Nevertheless, I am wise to it and include these ports in my routine monitoring.

There is an excellent spreadsheet populated with the latest (and historical) confirmed shipping information from a variety of sources - Tesla Carriers . It may be more of interest to you later as you become more engrossed in this subject! Did i mention it can become addictive?

Anyway, I think we can expect to see about 8 boatloads to Europe in Q1.
That begs the next question - how big are the boats? The standard ocean going vehicle carrier is 200metres long and 32 m wide and can fit about 5000 - 5500 cars onboard. Teslas are larger and significantly heavier than a standard car and so a maximum of 3500 - 4500 cars are in each shipment.
Traditionally the size of these ships, like many others, was restricted to the dimensions of the Panama Canal locks however in 2016 additional locks, longer and wider (427m & 55m), were opened for use and bigger car carriers are now able to transit. We have seen a couple of these larger vessels being used but using the new canal locks is much more expensive, less flexible to book and more likely to incur delays.

Anyway the plan is to post details of the latest Tesla shipping news for 2021 to this thread.
There are a number of ship trackers you can use to follow the ships and www.marinetraffic.com is one with perhaps the best free coverage but there are plenty of others. The ships transmit a signal which is picked up by shore based receivers (mostly hosted by amateurs) and forwarded to the website. The trouble is the signal is a VHF signal meaning the receiver has to generally be within line-of-sight and once the ship goes over the horizon to the receiver that's it, unless you pay for satellite coverage, like me. With the help of satellite tracking I will provide a daily update on exactly where each 'Tesla' ship is and provide an estimated time of arrival to Zeebrugge and Southampton (the UK port of entry for Tesla). I'll also try and add some background info which you may find interesting.

You can help me and others by keeping any posts on this thread strictly to shipping related matters - questions about when to expect delivery, VINs and panel gaps have their own threads, which I have been known to visit and contribute to also.

I am posting this now because I think I have in my sights the 1st ship of 2021 that will load at Pier 80 and will come to Europe......
 
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Mr Miserable

Supporting Member
Jul 8, 2019
4,382
8,042
UK
The ship of interest at the moment is GLOVIS CAPTAIN.
She is currently in the port of Hueneme, just north of Los Angeles and I expect her next stop to be Benicia.
Benicia is just north of San Francisco and I expect she will unload there before heading empty to Pier 80 next week.
There is strong evidence that this ship will arrive in Zeebrugge on 7 Feb.
Working backwards from that date would imply a departure from Pier 80 on 17 Jan.

Further down the line but looking promising also, is GRAND RUBY.
I have her pencilled in to depart Pier 80 on 1st Feb
UPDATE: Actually I might bring that date forward a week to 25 Jan - she's closer than I first thought!

There are a couple of other ships on my radar that I am keeping an eye on that may load at Pier 80 but these 2 are looking pretty certain to be heading across the Atlantic to Europe.
 
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Mr Miserable

Supporting Member
Jul 8, 2019
4,382
8,042
UK
A trusted, but sadly irregular, source confirmed to me late last night that GLOVIS CAPTAIN will be the 1st 'Tesla' ship of 2021.
He was unable to confirm the destination but I can - it will be Zeebrugge.

When I asked about GRAND RUBY I got the impression I may have picked a loser.
In the same manner I have cleared a number of other 'possibles' from my list, which is nice.

Interestingly, I got the impression that RCC AMSTERDAM should remain on my list of possibles, I suspect however it will be heading to the Far East though.

At the bottom of my list of European bound possibles was the GLOVIS COMPANION. It remains on the list and has moved up the ladder!

It was made clear to me though that I am missing some ships from a busy January.

The search continues.....


BTW the reason behind the subterfuge is, I suspect, a Non Disclosure Agreement.
Naming or even confirming a ships's destination would appear to be a clear breach of the NDA, as would directly revealing the names of the ships involved. I have a series of questions that I ask that does not compromise my source from which I should be able to work out the likely ships from my list of possibles. It seems to be much harder to confirm the destination without straying across a red line and so I don't even go there.
 
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Dazguy

Member
Jan 25, 2020
56
36
Ireland
Have been waiting for this thread for a few weeks now! Thanks so much.... your hard work is greatly appreciated by all of us.

Any idea if Brexit will affect shipping route to Ireland?

Thanks again,
Dazguy
 

Mr Miserable

Supporting Member
Jul 8, 2019
4,382
8,042
UK
Have been waiting for this thread for a few weeks now! Thanks so much.... your hard work is greatly appreciated by all of us.

Any idea if Brexit will affect shipping route to Ireland?

Thanks again,
Dazguy
I was dreading the Brexit question, it is the elephant in the room, however I don't have a clue what will happen.
As far as Ireland is concerned I would imagine cars will be shipped direct to Dublin from Zeebrugge.
 
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Mr Miserable

Supporting Member
Jul 8, 2019
4,382
8,042
UK
As far as Shanghai is concerned nothing has caught my eye except perhaps it's worth mentioning TORONTO which is due to depart Shanghai on 27 Jan and arrive in Zeebrugge on 26 Feb. At the moment this is probably the most likely 'Tesla' ship on my list.
 

Mr Miserable

Supporting Member
Jul 8, 2019
4,382
8,042
UK
Trying to add some meat to the bone...

GLOVIS CAPTAIN arr Zeebrugge 7 Feb Poss Southampton 9 Feb
GLOVIS COMPANION arr Zeebrugge around 25 Feb No Southampton call possible at moment.

I am pretty sure that I am missing some ships in between these 2 but its early days....
 

Mr Miserable

Supporting Member
Jul 8, 2019
4,382
8,042
UK
I am informed that GLOVIS CAPTAIN will arrive alongside Pier 80 on Monday night in preparation to commence loading operations on Tuesday morning. This is apparently 24 hrs ahead of schedule and the target is to remain 24hrs ahead. How this will fit with the ship's Panama Canal booking I don't know. It seems a little blinkered to work everybody really hard to get well ahead of schedule only for the ship to dawdle it's way down to Panama because it will arrive too early for her transit booking.
We shall see...
 

Mr Miserable

Supporting Member
Jul 8, 2019
4,382
8,042
UK
Glovis cosmos is currently docked at the exact same pier as Toscana was loading SR+ MIC in October 2020.

Could that be the first Tesla ship from China?
I doubt it, however I'm keeping an eye on it just in case.
Shanghai imports/exports a lot to/from other parts of Asia and vehicle carriers use these 2 piers all the time - they are in constant use.
The loading and unloading here seems to be very efficient and so the ships don't stay long.

UPDATE The GLOVIS COSMOS has departed for another port in China and so confirms it is not a ship of interest to us.
 
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Mr Miserable

Supporting Member
Jul 8, 2019
4,382
8,042
UK
So I'm coming to the conclusion that the next ship into Pier 80 after GLOVIS CAPTAIN will likely be RCC AMSTERDAM.
After that however I am hitting a brick wall as I have yet to identify a possible ship that has not already been ruled out.
(I am still surprised that GRAND RUBY was removed from the list)
Other ships like JASPER ARROW wouldn't make it to Pier 80 until February.
Sometimes, like a crossword, it pays to put it down for a day or two and then come back, and so that's what I will do...

BTW Talking of crosswords, an anagram of GLOVIS CAPTAIN is vaginal optics. Didn't see that coming did you?
 
Jan 10, 2021
54
32
Andover
I am informed that GLOVIS CAPTAIN will arrive alongside Pier 80 on Monday night in preparation to commence loading operations on Tuesday morning. This is apparently 24 hrs ahead of schedule and the target is to remain 24hrs ahead. How this will fit with the ship's Panama Canal booking I don't know. It seems a little blinkered to work everybody really hard to get well ahead of schedule only for the ship to dawdle it's way down to Panama because it will arrive too early for her transit booking.
We shall see...

thank you so much for your information and effort! It's fun to read!

I ordered my SR+ On Tuesday 5th January. Do you think it's likely to be on this ship? Or is it literally impossible to tell?

thanks again!
 

Mr Miserable

Supporting Member
Jul 8, 2019
4,382
8,042
UK
thank you so much for your information and effort! It's fun to read!

I ordered my SR+ On Tuesday 5th January. Do you think it's likely to be on this ship? Or is it literally impossible to tell?

thanks again!
I really have no idea, however if you give it a couple of days after she departs from Pier 80 and then call Tesla for a delivery update you may be in a position to make an educated guess. I will have tweaked my ETA for the ship's arrival in Zeebrugge and Southampton once she is underway (and further revised them once the ship arrives in the Caribbean) and so hopefully the dates will give you a good idea whether your car is onboard or not. Once you find out the information from Tesla please post it in the Orders and Deliveries thread.
 

Mr Miserable

Supporting Member
Jul 8, 2019
4,382
8,042
UK
I have not received any reports of Pier 80 filling up which is the usual indication of the imminent arrival of a ship and so last Thursday when
I was speaking to a contact in San Francisco I asked her to see if she could go and see if any cars were being parked on Pier 80.
She planned to drive past on Saturday morning and take a look but was thwarted by fog. San Francisco is (in)famous for its sea fogs.
The latest satellite photo of the dock which was apparently taken yesterday (Sunday) seems to show a smattering of cars but nowhere near a boatload. The plan of starting loading operations on Tuesday may be implemented but they will soon run out of cars to load.
On the basis of the photo I suspect loading will take a little longer than usual and so I don't expect the ship to leave before Friday.
 

Dr-TM

Member
Nov 9, 2020
5
0
Poland
I observe vehicle carrier HOEGH TRIGGER. After beeing loaded at Shanghai she left for Singapore and now is heading to Suez. Could it be Tesla carrier?
 

Vedaprime

Member
Feb 15, 2019
896
1,598
Brisbane
I observe vehicle carrier HOEGH TRIGGER. After beeing loaded at Shanghai she left for Singapore and now is heading to Suez. Could it be Tesla carrier?

I’ve been watching the cars out of Shanghai. We are nowhere near enough to transport yet. I have seen the first exported Model 3 have been built though. The early part of the month has been some local Model Y.
 

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