How to track Tesla electric car shipments using MarineTraffic
Thousands of excited new owners of the electric cars Tesla are turning to MarineTraffic to track shipments of their highly anticipated new vehicles.
According to the latest Tesla Press Release, over 180,000 vehicles were produced and nearly 185,000 were delivered in the first quarter of 2021, with many more currently on ships and headed to new owners.
However, one man in particular, is proving to be the guru of tracking international Tesla shipments, as he combines trusted AIS data, other relevant information from various sources and his admirable skills to create detailed daily reports about the status of these shipments for those sharing the same interest with him.
The journey of a Tesla order
Tesla is an unconventional company in many ways. They don’t spend a cent on advertising for example, and if you want to buy a car from them, you can only buy it on the internet. Yes, they have showrooms, but you will also see a computer placed there especially for you to place your order online.
With cars costing $40,000 and upwards, it will be the largest online purchase many people will ever make. For the largest proportion of buyers, this will not be the first new car they have ever bought, and many will have previously bought premium marques that come with slick customer service departments to walk you through the acquisition process and keep you updated on your car’s progress from manufacturing to delivery.
Tesla doesn’t do this. You order, you get an email acknowledgement and then you wait, and wait and possibly, wait some more.
Their cars are very popular and are very rarely in stock for long, and for European customers, there is a 3-4 week transit journey from the factories. The silence is deafening and not what experienced car buyers are used to.
“Where is my car?”
This is the question many European buyers have.
It was certainly the question ‘Mr Miserable’ from the United Kingdom had when he ordered a new Tesla Model 3 in 2019.
He joined the Tesla Motors Club forum and found he wasn’t alone as he soon discovered a small but determined group had identified the method Tesla was using to deliver cars from the factory to the UK. Tesla charter car carriers, large floating multi-storey car parks, specially designed to transport wheeled cargo around the globe.
From San Fransisco to Europe (and to the rest of the world)
Using MarineTraffic, he was able to track the vessel
Triumph Ace, which he had worked out must have his car onboard, from its arrival at Pier 80 in San Francisco to Zeebrugge in Belgium three weeks later. From there, the car was cross-loaded onto another vessel and shipped to Sheerness.
Although he had taken delivery of his car, Mr M as he is colloquially known, carried on researching Tesla shipments for UK customers of Tesla on the forum. Word soon spread, and nowadays Mr Miserable’s free daily shipping report is eagerly awaited by Tesla buyers in Norway, Israel, Germany, France and Spain as well as the UK and Ireland. Wall Street investors keen to get advanced knowledge of how Tesla’s export sales are doing, prior to any official announcement, are known to follow his shipping thread on the TMC forum too.
At the moment, Tesla has two main factories: (Gigafactories as they are widely known) one in Fremont in California and the other in Shanghai.
Pier 80 in San Francisco is used to export Model 3 cars from the Fremont factory (Model S & X were shipped in containers and have an entirely different international delivery route). It appears that the Gigafactory in Shanghai has taken over responsibility for supplying all RHD markets (Japan, Australia, NZ, Singapore, the UK and Ireland) and so now Mr M is tracking ships from there to Southampton as well as shipments from San Francisco to Europe. Additionally, at present, Shanghai is also concurrently supplying cars to Europe and Israel.
How is a daily report created based on AIS data?
Mr M’s daily report is often supplemented with free fun competitions (no prizes sadly) where readers have to guess the position of a Tesla chartered ship at a certain future time and date as it makes its way across the Atlantic. Entries for these popular competitions close as the ship enters Miraflores or Cocoli lock in the Panama Canal.
Mr M obtains the midday position from MarineTraffic satellite service and enters it onto a spreadsheet. He has written a script for the spreadsheet which calculates the distance off for each entry (using the Haversine formula) and inserts the details of the winning entries into a standard script that is posted to the forum within a minute of the position obtained.
Mr M says, “There are a couple of routes ships use to travel from the Panama Canal to Europe, and the weather means that they don’t always use a great circle course. This unpredictability of where the ship could make it ideal for a competition.” Many buyers who have already taken delivery return to his thread just to enter the competition.
His readership is mostly those who are waiting for their cars to arrive and are keen to know exactly where it is. This means every few months, he has a completely new readership “who are new to the world of shipping, RoRo’s and of course MarineTraffic,” he told us.
At the moment, we have three ships chartered by Tesla heading from San Francisco to Zeebrugge: Lake Fuxian, Glovis Chorus and Glovis Century with Glovis Countess to start loading later this week. We have three ships heading from Shanghai to Europe: Glovis Sun, Lake Geneva and Hyperion Ray. Since three ships have already unloaded in Europe, export deliveries this quarter should be an all-time record.
Mr Miserable became hooked on the amazing logistics involved in the delivery and in particular, the shipping element of his Tesla car in 2019, and has never stopped tracking the ships transporting these new cars from San Francisco since.
Interested in Tesla car shipments and how to track those using MarineTraffic?
Keep an eye on the MarineTraffic blog for more interesting posts coming up from Mr M, as he will periodically update us with other news from the Tesla shipping process, some aspects of which make it unique in the industry.