Here are some useful sites for tracking the shipment of your custom-ordered or overseas-delivered Volvo. I had a good time over the summer figuring all this out while I waited for delivery of my V50, hopefully some of you will have fun too. Enjoy!
These instructions are mostly oriented toward Volvos built in Belgium, that is, the S40, V50, C30 and S60. However, the same voyages often start in Gothenburg, so in theory much of this will apply to the Sweden-built Volvos too. It should be pretty obvious how to apply it. I've added a couple of helpful links for that below.
The quick version of this is:
The first and last steps require human interaction.
- Find your VIN from your dealer.
- Find the ship it's on by looking up the VIN: Wilhelm Wallenius auto tracking (the first time you click, you may have to use the main page)
- Find the ship's details (callsign): Port of Zeebrugge or Ship callsign finder
- Track the ship by callsign: Ship tracking (be patient - the SailWX site can be slow, or use possible alternatives below)
- Watch for your car to clear customs/port: Wilhelm Wallenius auto tracking
- Wait for your car.
First, you need your VIN. You have to ask your salesperson for it. When the factory build is committed, it appears in his/her system. One good reason to have it is so your insurance agent can get the paperwork under way.
BTW here are the states I believe a Volvo order goes through:PPF - Pre Production StatusYour dealer's paperwork may list the following Order Types:
FPF - Fixed for Production
COL - Car on Line
FC - Factory Assembly Completed/Going Through Quality Control
VCMP - Vehicle Configured for Marine Processing (prepared for loading on vessel)
LOVE - Loaded on Vessel
ARRI - Vessel Arrived at Port of Entry
LFPR - Landed First Point Rest, in the process of being unloaded and is awaiting port processing
PORT - Going through Port processing
PPC - Going though certification
MONR - Monroney window sticker being prepared for the vehicle
COFT - Called on Final Transportation (Car On Truck)
DPOE - Departed Port Of Entry
ARRD - Arrived at Dealer
DELC - Delivered to Customer
S - "Stock" Car is not allocated to retailer in pool of cars waiting to be allocatedYour salesperson will generally tell you when two of the status changes happen, FPF is when the "change date" is passed and a VIN is assigned, and "ARRD" is when it shows up on the lot. But you can see the car by other means from VCMP through DPOE, as it enters and leaves port.
P - "Preferred" Car is allocated to a retailer (although not 100% safe from the unscrupulous retailer)
R - "Retail" Order cannot be touched by anyone and gets priority "processing" when delays occur
With the VIN, go to Wilhelm Wallenius auto tracking and enter it as the "Cargo ID". Sometimes it takes a few extra days, but the vehicle will show up either waiting in port or on a vessel of some kind. This will give you the basic information on port arrival, which may be enough for you.
If it's not , you can track it more accurately along the way. I am not responsible for any ill effects such tracking may cause you.
First site of interest is the Port of Zeebrugge site, where you can see "ships in harbor", "ships sailed", etc. using the links on the left side. You can even see a map of the quais, or try Google Maps' version. Sorry, I couldn't find real-time satellite imagery. [but see Southampton paragraph below!] The thing you're looking for is the call sign of your ship, which you can find in the detail page of each voyage. You may have to go back in time a bit to find it, or wait until it appears if you're early. Also you can see a much more detailed log of the times the ships actually come and go. Click the little "EN" at top right to see this in English.
There are similar sites for the port of Goteborg where Sweden-built Volvos originate. The port map can be found from there, look for the "roll-on/roll-off" terminal. A Google Maps image is here, (it's the rectangle just left of the center). Note, ships from Goteborg often go to Zeebrugge or other sites, so tracking them follows the same process.
And, here's the image of the Volvo Ghent factory (website), it's roughly in the center of the photo.
Armed with the ship name or call sign, you can track many ships at sea by the weather reports they give. Most of the W-W fleet does this, however there are some which don't. Also, they only do it when they're truly at sea. As they enter and leave port, and ply the coasts, they stop issuing these reports. There may be a way to track them but I don't know it.
For the North Atlantic, these reports are tabulated and displayed nicely at the SailWX site. If you can't find your ship's call sign from the port, they have a lookup function here, but it's fairly general. Also, many ships have similar names. Mine was the "Carmen" - something like 20 ships came up with that. So the Zeebrugge information is best.
The tracking information shows the position graphically, and dumps out the last few reports as well, so you can get a feeling for the direction and speed of the vessel. "SOA" in these data is the "speed of advance" which is a nautical term for the effective speed of the vessel. Also these distances are nautical miles, etc. You can use these data to estimate when it will reach port, by calculating along the rhumb line. They generally report 4 times a day. You can dump detailed logs of historical data, kind of interesting.
From Zeebrugge, most vessels go to Southampton England to pick up Minis. The same shipper carries BMW and Mini, plus other manufacturers. Many of these ships also pass through Bremerhaven, and you can pick them up there via Eurogate.
As they pass through Southampton, user cmy4x4 discovered this Southampton radar site which shows imagery from the port, updated every 10 minutes. You can watch your ship arriving and departing from this port!
From Southampton they head into open ocean. But I've seen vessels rearrange their ports and also their route. Mine skipped Zeebrugge for Southampton, then doubled back. Then on the ocean it headed south and rounded the Azores to avoid a northern Atlantic storm. Let me tell you, it was very frustrating to see my car heading for Portugal, then the Bermuda Triangle, when its itinerary said "Newark New Jersey" . Atlantic weather can be seen at this ocean weather site.
After clicking them about 19 times each day , you'll get a feeling for what to expect. The ship will stop sending data a day or so before it approaches its first port. You'll have to make an educated guess when it will arrive, or use another method. They don't spend a lot of time in port, the cars are unloaded in a matter of hours, but then there's a processing stage and of course customs to go through.
Another tracking alternative found by user Freeworld is available for those ships owned by Atlantic Container Line. As of this writing, these vessels are ATLANTIC CARTIER, ATLANTIC COMPANION, ATLANTIC COMPASS, ATLANTIC CONCERT and ATLANTIC CONVEYOR. If your ship is one of these, you can use the ACL tracking site, which is quite a nice source. It is possible that other carriers or vessels share this kind of information, if any are found please let me know!
... and another site for marine tracking, with very extensive tracking and data on ships: Marine Traffic, and also check out Digital Seas which is really something but requires registration for full info.
A day or two after arriving in port, the W-W site will probably show "Discharged". This means it has left their custody and is in all likelihood on a car carrier. You'll be back to biting your nails and calling the dealer.
In my experience, it takes 2 to 4 days in port, and a few more days en route to the dealer. I believe Volvo allocates about 10 days in their schedule estimates, probably varies depending on port and distance/method from port to dealer. Mine came into New Jersey (W-W calls this "New York") and shipped to Massachusetts, so pretty close. In other words, you can work backwards from your dealer's date to the ship arrival to make some guesses even if you don't know what ship you're on. But, once the car is on the ship, the dealer's date is pretty close.
Other ports used by W-W for Volvos in North America are Halifax, Nova Scotia, Baltimore, Maryland, Brunswick, Georgia and Port Hueneme, California. Depending on the destination and other logistics, different ports may be used.
To the Far East/Asia and the Middle East, user slrising found some additional sources. The vessels ASIAN SUN, ASIAN KING, ASIAN PARADE, ASIAN CHORUS, TORRENS and MORNING COMPOSER (All currently on lease from WWL to EUKOR) are used. You can track these via the following:o NMT Shipping (RoRo Freight forwarder for EUKOR) for schedule of vessels listed above but not all inclusive so you may have to go to eurogate or some other website link and try to find your arrival port schedule there.New York/New Jersey shipping departures (not arrivals) for a 4-day period can be seen at NY Maritime Departures.
o Eukor (Tracking your shipment via last six of your VIN once loaded on the vessel). Registration is free here but you won't find much if any helpful info here until your car is loaded. If you need position updates everyday or many time per day as I do, then just search for AIS data on your ship name via google.
Here's a site for the port of Halifax, Nova Scotia Canada, good arrival information there and an early indication of the ship reaching North America too: Halifax daily status
Another site for shipping schedules, giving good information on ships between two known ports: JOC Sailings. Thanks to Swedespeed user ES-V50T5 for this and the Halifax links!
General view of W-W shipping to North America:
There's a lot more information to be had, pictures of the ports, ships, etc., probably a lot more ways to find it all. Feel free to add!
Edit 1/4/05 to add Northeast auto terminal URL.
Edit 7/12/05 to add Google Maps link to Zeebrugge quais.
Edit 7/13/05 to add Goteborg port and maps.
Edit 8/17/05 to fix old Google Maps Zeebrugge link
Edit 8/18/05 to add satellite image of Volvo Ghent factory site
Edit 10/17/05 to tune up ship tracking URL
Edit 9/12/06 to include Southampton radar site
Edit 9/21/07 to fix some links and tune up text.
Edit 4/4/08 to improve Google Maps image links
Edit 5/3/08 to add Atlantic Container Line tracking info
Edit 5/21/09 to add Asian delivery info
Edit 11/17/09 to add marinetraffic tracking site
Edit 11/29/2009 to add Halifax and JOCsailing links
Edit 11/30/2009 for a couple more tracking sites
Edit 6/28/2010 for new forum software and formatting, added Volvo Gent link.
Edit 5/17/2011 to correct link for maps of Zeebrugge quais
Edit 3/1/2013 to add vehicle order type codes