Market conditions are strong for container and chassis leasing because demand for international shipping containers is high, says Martin Tuckman, CEO of Interpool (www.interpool.com), a lessor of intermodal dry freight containers.
When new container costs go up, Tuckman notes, railroads and ocean lines tend to renew their long-term leases. Costs have gone from $1,400-$1,450 per container to something closer to $2,000 per container, says Tuckman, and about 78% of Interpool's current customers have been rolling over their leases rather than returning and replacing containers and chassis.
To supplement its fleet, Interpool, which claims a 50% market share, has been acquiring chassis from ocean lines and leasing them back to the carriers. Current utilization of chassis by Interpool's Container Applications International group is over 90%, says Tuckman. Utilization was in the 80% range in the prior year, and below that in the past.
While containers are mass produced, chassis production involves discrete manufacturing, explains Tuckman. This makes fleet planning a little more complex. Interpool assesses current container demand and tracks shipbuilding projections when it places orders for containers and chassis.