Auto Transport is a Broken Model

Online, vehicle exchanges like OVE or ATC are great because they allow easier access to vehicles across the country. The downside is shipping the vehicles. My biggest issue is not the price, but instead of the random nature of drop off and delivery. Finding cheap vehicle shipping is easy, guaranteed delivery is hard.

Owner/Operators make up the bulk of capacity for single unit moves, and O/Os operate to maximize short-term profit. This means they will try to run full at all times and wait for payment from a customer they may not see again. Consequently, many O/Os (and small fleets) will think nothing of waiting days to either pick up a car or pick up a check. These delays are essentially random, making it nearly impossible to give a guaranteed transit time and pick up day.

Using brokers creates a principal-agent moral hazard situation, as well. Most brokers take a transport job and post it on CentralDispatch.com, where a carrier finds it. The broker has done his part of finding a carrier, but the carrier’s company does not have the same responsibilities to the end customer (you) as does the broker. Service quality degrades, delays increase, and ultimately it’s a poor experience.

Ultimately, the industry needs a hub and spoke model, but I think, no one transport company understands demand enough to know how to roll out a model like this. Ideally, major cities would be connected by either rail or the 8-10 car trailers, and those cities would locally be served by 1-3 car hotshots that just ran all day around the city, picking up cars and bringing them to a central terminal, like DHL, FedEx, or UPS.

Anyone want to fund my new Auto Transport Company? Probably won’t take more than a 100 mill to roll out nationally.

13 responses to “Auto Transport is a Broken Model

  1. Have you seen Dependable Auto Shippers?

    http://www.dasautoshippers.com/

    Check ’em out!

  2. DAS can have 3-4 week windows, even after guaranteed delivery. I’ve found United Road to cost the same but deliver faster.

  3. Please check out Transport Solution!!

  4. Transport is a thorn in the side of the customers more than the dealers. Most customers like me want the vehicle delivered quickly. I once bought a ’69 Mach 1 from a dealer I know in Ohio and even though they promised up and down it would be there by X date, a week and a half later the car finally showed up at my house. That may be a somewhat extreme example from a customer point of view, but I think it happens more than most would think, for the exact logistic reasons you point out.

    More and more dealers I work with are paying staff to drive cars home from the auctions. Not an option for every dealer, but it does solve a lot of the headaches.

  5. Transport Solution,

    I tried calling to get a quote ( I possibly need to move a car from NJ to TX). The woman said she would call me back in twenty minutes with a quote and never did. How is Transport Solution different from CentralDispatch?

  6. Jake,

    I completely agree. That’s why I’d rather pay more for transport rather than wait a few weeks. The auto transport process is one of the last things the customer will remember, takes the longest, and creates the most issues.

    Update: I was able to get in touch with someone from transport solution. They seem like a better screened centraldispatch.

  7. CarrierRates.com is a network on the transportation of cars and light-trucks to the automotive transportation industry nationwide and Canada. No “middleman” shipper receives direct carrier pricing and pays directly to carrier.
    Briefly, vehicle shippers register with CarrierRates.com, then posts the vehicles moves online. Carriers respond online by bidding on the various moves.
    Multiple carriers are registered with CarrierRates.com representing over 8000 car hauling trucks.
    The shipper then enjoys having multiple carriers “bid” on the shippers moves they are interested in.

  8. CarrierRates.com is truly a network of both customers and carriers eliminating the brokers thus the carrier is able to sustain his/her operation delivering faster.
    These Brokers will wait till they can score the lowest bid with a desperate carrier thus the poor quality of transport despiting pocketing as much as half of the total cost the end customer paid. Money talks and I can attest to my words as I am a car carrier.

  9. I can certainly appreciate all the site that every one has mentioned, but when it comes to moving a vehicle you need to check out TransportReviews.com.

    They have CUSTOMER ratings and reviews of about 1,000 different auto transporters. You can use whatever pricing tool, or website you like, but you should check them out before you use them, and review them afterward.

  10. Jerry-Owner LONEWOLFE Transport

    I am an owner op. and as you can see by my current ratings on central dispatch ,I have a 100% rating and intend to keep it this way ,, However I;m really tired of brokers thinking we will haul cheep freight, I recently hauled a load for a well knowen, verry large broker and was promised a com check @ delivery ($2000.00) and still havent heard from or recived any money, so the next time you wanna talk about reliable transporters think about the money I lost and think reliable/honest brokers

  11. Very interesting to read this, but You can also use an autoambulance.

  12. can u ask jerry who the company was-so we dont do work for them

  13. I have been in the drive-away business in florida for over 18 years and have always been able to handle my customers requests on “in-state ” moves. we are specific to flroida and do a lot of 1 car 1 way hauls by individual driver not truck. We always are competing with trucks because of the mileage we put on vehicle but when you need quick,safe reliable service to me a vehicle or lots of vehicles please try a drive service or haul-away company.

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