They are actually, not really heavy utility vehicles, because they only reach the limit of 40 tons in exceptional cases. This is why the first trucks with trailers were distinctly oversized, if they were only carrying three to four motor cars from the manufacturer to the dealer.
The trend towards lightweight construction (see video), started as early as in the middle of the last century. Even the above shown transporter with 8 compact- to mid-size cars is only calculated at 12 tons, which is a lot less than half of what a normal truck and trailer would move on the roads.
Apart from the weight saving aspect, a further tendency can clearly be seen, i.e., to take on as many different sized vehicles as possible. After all, the haulage companies are paid according to kilometres and the number of cars, in 2014, perhaps just under €200 for 500 kilometres. By the way, the motor vehicle trade are the only ones who charge for transporting new products to the dealers.
It's quite fantastic, the way the individual vehicles are sometimes loaded on. Thanks to the hydraulics, the highly variable individual ramps can be shifted into the remaining spaces. If, as a passenger, you're getting a bit bored on the motorway, have a look at one, it's almost artistic the way that all the levels nestle in with each other.
If you think about it, the slightest contact between two cars, would cost a lot more than the transport costs bring in. In the meantime, the manufacturers no longer take any risks. The vehicles are wrapped up like the crown-jewels, with only slits to be looked through when moving the vehicles around. Complaints from the customers are to be avoided at all costs.
Very valuable cargo is transported in closed-in compartments. As a rule, semi-trailers are used here. It is also apparent, that the normal car-carriers fall into the category of tractors and trailers. The ingenious way that the individual ramps, when driving on normal roads, come very close to each other, without any contact at all, is fascinating.
The closeness is also necessary, because the towing vehicle and the trailer are not separated when loading or discharging. For motor car carriers, with a maximum height of four meters, two levels are normal. The cars are driven onto the ramps from the rear, right up to the tractor. If the continuous upper level can be maintained, then it is loaded first.
On the upper level, the cars are mostly driven further, to over the driver's cabin. On the lower level, because of the lack of length, there is some juggling to be done. Indeed, a certain amount of tilting the individual sections is possible, this however, makes the loading and discharging somewhat complicated. The loading order is also important, this is determined by the planned order of discharging, since very seldom will a dealer take all the cars in one go.
If perhaps ten (smaller) cars are to be transported, it may be sensible, when the ramps are tilted, to reverse the cars on. In this case, the simple loading-order may no longer be possible. Whatever the case may be, the driver would be happy to have a load of vehicles, all of the same kind, otherwise, at every discharging point he has to do a lot of brainwork.
As you can imagine, the securing of the individual vehicles, also during the loading procedure, is especially important. There's nothing than can equal the pleasure of malicious observers like seeing an accident with a car carrier, where several new cars have fallen off and are strewn all over the motorway. And, as mentioned before, the height-limit of four meters, must be strictly adhered to.
One of the reasons is of course, that in the meantime, a modern car is, for the average person, a substantial investment, often the largest outlay that he/she will ever have. And, one can spend even more money. The catchphrase is 'factory collection'. Nowadays, the accompanying quick factory tour, is no longer the standard.
In the meantime, collecting the car yourself has mutated into an event. Spending a nice day out, possibly with an overnight stay. There is even an optional extras catalogue for the planned itinerary. You can even be given instructions, in a similar vehicle, which may go over and above the normal operator instructions. And of course, the guy driving the car carrier, will become unemployed ... 09/14