Looking for a place to stash tens of thousands of unsold new vehicles, automakers are turning unused car carrier ships into floating parking holds. It's an unusual development, especially in a shipping industry that is used to having boats filled to capacity and running full steam across the seas. As shippers face sharp declines in traffic, the world's fleet of 640 floating car carriers have been forced to make serious adjustments to cut costs and determine ways to absorb extra capacity. With distribution ports filled with excess inventory and dealers unwilling to accept additional stock, automakers are running out of places to stash cars and parking space is at a premium. All of which has helped to make unused cargo holds look mighty attractive.

Toyota has reportedly signed a deal with Wallenius Wilhelmsen, a large Scandinavian joint venture car-carrier fleet operator, to store up to 2,500 new vehicles in a port in southern Sweden. According to Oslo-based Höegh Autoliners, several other auto manufacturers are negotiating similar deals right now.

[Source: Financial Times, free sub. req'd]