The proportion of 40-foot high-cube (9 feet, 6 inches high) containers in the global maritime container fleet is predicted to exceed 50 percent by the end of this year for the first time. According to Drewry’s 2013 Container Census, the equipment’s market share reached 49 percent in 2012, and is expected to grow by at least another 1 percent this year.
The number of high cube containers in the fleet grew by another 8 percent last year, up to 15.4 million TEU, taking the rise in demand between 2007 and 2012 up to a remarkable 49 percent. It meant that 40-foot high-cube’s share of the total maritime equipment market increased from 41 percent to 49 percent, or just over 1 percent per annum, almost entirely at the expense of normal 40-foot (8-foot, 6-inch) high boxes. On the other hand, the proportion of 20-foot containers remained constant at around 33 percent.
The popularity of 40-foot high cubes is easy to understand. Being around 13 percent larger than ordinary 40-foot boxes, shippers can load that amount of extra cargo at little to no extra freight cost. Moreover, inland transport is usually charged on a per-container basis for light cargo, so there are no extra haulage costs too.