This blog is not related to the 2001 comedy movie “Dude, Where’s My Car?” Instead, it’s about the same question that is asked in the automotive industry multiple times per day: “Dude, Where’s My Car?” Before I took over the leadership of Vinturas in 2021, I spent most of my career at OEMs* in the global high-tech and electronics industry. Transparency, visibility, and traceability of shipments in transit became an issue in the late ‘90s. With that I have been highly surprised by the lack of transparency, visibility, and traceability in the automotive finished vehicle industry when shipping finished vehicles from a factory to customer dealerships. I would like to share some observations I have made in relation to this.

Observation 1

Missing finished vehicles

Just before Covid-19 a large automotive OEM told me they have been losing cars in transit regularly, sometimes 3 or 5 cars, sometimes even 8-10 cars per intercontinental transportation. When I reacted surprised, the OEM asked me if I knew how many cars they are shipping each year. Soon after that, I was at a Roll On/Roll Off (Ro/Ro) terminal where a Ro/Ro vessel was unloading passenger vehicles. The Ro/Ro line was supposed to unload 150 finished vehicles of an automotive OEM, but after unloading, only 145 finished vehicles were counted. Weeks later when I asked the parties involved if they knew what caused the missing 5 vehicles, nobody could answer and cars were still missing.

Observation 2

Lack of transparency and reliable information to car dealers

At several Finished Vehicle events, I have spoken to regional dealers in Europe and overseas dealers in North America. Most of these dealers have unreliable to zero information on what passenger vehicles are arriving and when. This is not only applicable to ordinary passenger vehicles. The same information and examples I received with regard to exclusive and highly expensive vehicles. You can imagine that when dealers lack such information, their final customers will be highly dissatisfied as well. Besides dealerships and customers, also Logistics Service Providers (LSPs) and asset-owned carriers are being impacted by the lack of transparency and reliable information.

Observation 3

Lack of transparency and reliable information to trading partners

A last example was an asset-owned motor carrier that was waiting at a Ro/Ro compound with 15 trucks to pick up new finished vehicles for onward transportation to dealerships. After 2 days delay the Ro/Ro vessel arrived, and after unloading the vessel, the finished vehicles this asset-owned motor carrier was supposed to load, turned out to be never loaded at the origin. The motor carrier did not receive information about the Ro/Ro vessel’s delay, and not about the fact that the finished vehicles it was supposed to pick up were never loaded at the origin. The 15 trucks left the terminal empty to pick up vehicles elsewhere.

Observation 4

OEM visibility isn’t enough

Recently I was at an event where an automotive OEM proudly presented that they now have real-time visibility of all their finished vehicles at all their factory compounds. All new finished vehicles are now equipped with telemetry in support of such detailed compound visibility. The week after the event I was visiting a large LSP, which had just received 600 passenger vehicles of this same OEM. These finished vehicles came in by a short-sea Ro/Ro vessel, of which they received information on very short notice. The LSP had no upfront information about these 600 finished vehicles, and neither had the importer/dealerships of this OEM. The telemetry presented, did not work to the advantage of the entire supply chain. 3 “

In this first blog, I shared some examples related to transparency, visibility, and traceability when shipping finished vehicles from factory to customer dealerships. In the next blog messages, I will reflect on these examples by writing blogs about potential solutions to solve these issues. While these blogs focus on the automotive finished vehicle industries, we know similar issues are applicable to other industries too. We will post our blogs on and on our Vinturas LinkedIn page.