Wallenius Wilhelmsen claims landmark auto deal

Wallenius Wilhelmsen claims landmark auto deal

Wallenius Wilhelmsen, the Oslo-based ocean car carrier, said it signed the first transcontinental door-to-door contract in the automobile industry, to deliver automobiles from BMW plants in the U.S., Europe and South Africa to dealers in Australia.

The carrier will transport 18,000 cars a year, including 2,000 to New Zealand, under a five year contract worth $50 million.

"This is an industry first...[ car carriers] have never delivered finished vehicles on a door-to-door basis across regional markets," said Steve Cadden, chief operating officer, Logistics Management Division.

Wallenius Wilhelmsen, a joint venture of Sweden's Wallenius Lines and Wilh. Wilhelmsen of Norway, will use its own ships to move BMW cars from Savannah, Southampton, Zeebrugge and Durban, South Africa, to four base ports in Australia and subcontract overland transport to other companies.

Cadden said the company is pitching 10 other similar transport projects to car manufacturers and expects rival shipping lines to try to replicate its BMW service.

Wallenius Wilhelmsen, which has a fleet of 60 ships and claims a leading 23 percent share of the global car transport/roll on roll off shipping market, already transports between 150,000 and 170,000 cars for BMW each year.

-- Bruce Barnard in London