How Many Cars Fit in a Shipping Container?

Container shipping has always been a fantastic option for the safe transport of goods. This form of transportation is widely accepted, from household goods to car shipping. However, one might wonder how ample a container space is and how many cars fit into one.

Using shipping containers is an excellent way of shipping one or more cars. Depending on the size of the container and cars, a shipping container should be able to contain two to four vehicles. However, aside from knowing how many cars would fit in a shipping container, you need to know about delivery time and cost. You might also be interested in finding out if container shipping is the best option for car shipping or if there is a more practical solution. This article covers all of that.

How Many Cars in a Shipping Container?

Before you can determine how many vehicles can fit into a single container, you need to know the shipping container dimensions.

A majority of shipping containers come in two standard sizes. These are 20-foot (20′ x 8′ x 9.5′) and 40-foot (40′ x 8′ x 9.5′) containers. A 20-foot container should be able to carry two standard-sized vehicles inside, while a 40-foot container can be loaded with four standard-size cars. If you add a few wrinkles, a 40-foot container should be able to carry five or six small cars. A standard container can most likely handle three SUV-type vehicles.

How Many Cars in a Shipping Container

The number of vehicles in one container is relatively small, meaning shipping cars using containers is not cost-effective or practical.

Delivery of Car Models

The number of cars that fit into one container depends on the model of the car. The estimate below is for a 40-foot container.

One Car Model

  • For small cars like a Fiat 500 or Tate Nano, five to six cars can fit into one container.
  • Four to five middle-class cars like a Honda Civic or Volkswagen Golf Hatchback can be loaded onto one container.
  • Four big cars like BMW 5 Series are suitable for a single container.
  • For a car such as Range Rover Sport, three SUVs can fit in a container.

Different Car Models

If you are using a racking framework, you can ship three big cars like the Range Rover Evoque and one small car in a shipping container. The racking system allows enough versatility for different types of vehicles in a container. For example, you can load two Ford Fiestas and six Range Rovers in two containers using racks instead of four if you want to place the same models in the containers without racks.

With racks, you can potentially save money and still have a great opportunity to transport vehicles safely.

History of Shipping Containers and Cars

Around 1956, many people did not see the need to ship large numbers across the ocean. If you mentioned the idea of shipping cars using containers, your observation would probably be met with raised eyebrows. This was because most car manufacturing companies focused on selling in the same country they produced their cars.

If you visited Europe, you would find brands like Audi, or if you traveled to America, you would find Buicks and Chevrolets.

Benefits of Container Shipping

Container shipping entails the use of steel racking systems, sometimes even wood. These systems ensure the safe transport of cars from one point to another worldwide.

With the use of these racks, you can ship four Honda CR-Vs in a forty-foot container. Granted, you might spend up to $900 on shipping, but you won’t even feel it when the bill is shared four ways.

Benefits of Container Shipping

As soon as a car is placed in a container, the shippers will not move it until it reaches its destination. Only the container will be moved, from warehouse to truck, truck to ship, amongst others. With the cars in place, there is less likely to be an accident.

Alternative to Container Shipping

Due to the impracticality of using a container to ship only two to four cars, a new shipping method had to come into play. Therefore, the roll-on-roll-off (RORO) was born. It is a Victorian invention that started in the 1960s by the Japanese and has then since become the norm on a global scale.

Alternative to Container Shipping

RORO delivery became so widespread that no one considered innovations in container shipping for a long time. They never questioned the practicality of RORO or if a multimodal container was a better option.

Unfortunately, RORO shipping is not perfect. Some disadvantages of RORO include slow transit times, increased damage rates, shipping ports, and lanes restrictions. Despite these downsides, most people still depended on this form of shipping, until recently, that is.

Innovations in Shipping Containers

One primary reason people did not widely accept shipping containers was that their frames were made from wood. Wooden frames are weak, more likely to break, and wouldn’t last more than one trip.

Wooden frames were the norm until the new millennium brought about reinforced steel frames. These frames can be collapsed and reused. With this innovation, more cars can fit into a single container.

One innovation that has made container shipping a breeze is R-RAK. First of all, R-RAK makes containers the most secured, fastest, and cost-effective mode to transport products. Second, it helps to maximize container space.

Due to its versatility, you can store cars of different shapes and sizes in one container. For example, two Range Rover Evoque, a Jaguar XJ, and a Toyota Corolla can be stored in one 45-foot container.


For so long, individuals in the shipping industry thought a container was limited to carrying two cars. However, innovations have helped in overcoming assumptions like that. Now, containers have the capacity to transport vehicles of various shapes and sizes, such as SUVs and small cars.

These innovations have brought about a more practical, economical, and safer mode of shipping cars across the ocean.

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