Auto Warehousing Co.’s facility at the Port of Portland’s Terminal 6 has received approval for export shipments to China following inspections by governmental auditors from that country.
Exports are set to begin later this year; Ford cars and trucks from plants in the United States, Canada and Mexico will be shipped via the Port of Portland.
“We are proud to be serving as the primary gateway for exports of new Fords to China and furthering our mission to provide access to international markets,” said Bill Wyatt, executive director for the Port of Portland, in a written statement. “This new business will provide local jobs and economic benefits, but also fulfills a national role for Ford vehicles manufactured in plants throughout North America.”
A $2.8 million project to expand AWC’s processing building by 27,000 square feet and increase capacity to more than 110,000 vehicles annually is nearing completion. The expansion was financed in part by ConnectOregon IV state grant funding.
Initial volume is expected to be 30,000 units in the first year, rising to 40,000 per year, and AWC will be hiring up to 50 people at its 130-acre Terminal 6 facility to process vehicles and prepare them for the Chinese market.
Ford reported a fivefold increase in sales of its imported passenger vehicles in China in the first half of 2013 — the Ford Focus ST, Ford Edge and Ford Explorer. The company said it sold 10,811 wholesale units, compared with 2,222 in the first half of 2012.
“There is great potential to grow this business as our expertise and available capacity matches growing demand for Ford vehicles in China,” said Ben Seher, president of AWC. “By better utilizing transpacific car carriers returning to Asia, this will be good news for everyone involved.”
Portland is among the largest gateways for U.S. auto imports already, with such traffic making up part of its cargo mix for 60 years. Exports of Fords to South Korea through the port began in January 2012.