How many people does it take to sell a new vehicle?

It takes a lot of people to get your customers into the right vehicles at your dealership – even more than you might think. Once a car or truck leaves the manufacturer, people like the ship captains, truck drivers and railroad engineers who get vehicles from the factory to the showroom make it all possible.

Here are some fun facts about the ships, trucks and trains involved in each vehicle’s journey from the manufacturer to your dealership.


  • Nearly half of all cars in the United States are from overseas, which means many new cars sold in the U.S. start their journey on a ship.1
  • “Ocean vessels that specialize in shipping cars have been built to hold up to 8,000­ vehicles, although most are designed to transport between 4,000 and 5,000 vehicles.”2
  • Many of these ships are considered “ro-ro” ships, with ramps that allow cars to easily roll on and roll off the vessel for easy loading and unloading.3


  • Depending on the distance they travel to the dealership, the vehicles will either be transported by rail or by truck. Trucks are used to transport vehicles shorter distances.4 
  • The trailers used to transport cars are often double-deckers that can fit up to 12 vehicles depending on their shapes and sizes.4
  • Organizing the shipment and deliveries is up to the driver. An experienced driver can load and secure a trailer of similar-sized vehicles in about 90 minutes.2


  • 75% of cars and trucks purchased in the United States were transported by rail at some point in their journey to the dealership.4
  • New cars are loaded onto an automotive rail car or “auto rack.” These are either bi-level or tri-level cars, which generally hold 8-15 units.3 
  • A train specializing in moving vehicles with 70 auto racks can carry more than 800 vehicles. On average, a rail journey for a new car is about 1,300 miles.2

America may run on automobiles, but it takes ships, trucks and trains to get them to the nation’s car lots so you can sell them. Next time one of your customers drives off the lot in a new vehicle, think of how many folks that had your back to make it happen. 

If you ever have questions, concerns or comments, chat with us directly through the DealerPortal or call our Dealer Operations Group at 1-855-4EXETER (855-439-3837).


1 Mikulic, M. (Oct. 5, 2021). American cars vs. foreign cars: Statistics and facts. Luxury Cars A2Z. Retrieved from:

2 Friedrich, L. (April 23, 2019). How are cars shipped? uShip LLC. Retrieved from:

3 Union Pacific. (July 28, 2020). From the auto factory to your local dealership. Track Record. Retrieved from:

4 RPM Freight Systems. (Sept. 22, 2021). How are cars transported to dealers: The over the road guide. RPM Blog. Retrieved from:

About Exeter
Exeter Finance LLC is a non-prime auto finance company headquartered in Irving, Texas. The company partners with franchised and independent auto dealers throughout the country to make car ownership a reality for consumers. For more information, call our Dealer Operations Group at 1-855-4EXETER (855-439-3837).

Category: Industry