Friday, June 24, 2011

Subaru Delays Start of Richmond Port Auto Import Operations

Automaker Subaru, who was expected to begin moving cars through the Port of Richmond, in the Bay Area, as early as this month, has decided to delay the opening of its import terminal at the port until the fall due to complications resulting from the March earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

Earlier this year, the port approved a five-year deal with Subaru that would see the automaker move between 30,000 and 35,000 cars through the port's Port Potrero Automotive Facility. Subaru, which chose Richmond as its Northern California port of entry last year, plans to ship about half of the imported cars out of the port via rail and the other half via truck.

Richmond City Manager Bill Lindsay reported to the mayor and City Council earlier this month that, "Subaru has recently informed Auto Warehousing Company (AWC), the port’s operating tenant for its auto business, that the start-up of its Richmond business will be delayed approximately three months until November of this year."

Ben Seher, the vice president of AWC told the Contra Costa Times, "It's a matter of [Subaru] getting their supplies up and in order for distributing vehicles. They're definitely coming; it's just a matter of timing."

AWC, Seher told the newspaper, had already started plans to begin hiring the 40 or so employees the operation will require, but he added that the delay in opening should not impact long-term hiring plans.

Subaru was also not the only Richmond tenant impacted by the Japanese disaster. Honda, who imports about 145,00 cars a year through Richmond's Port Potrero facility, was forced to scale back imports in the past several months due to disruptions caused by the Japanese twin-disaster.

"Once the earthquake happened, it's not just Subaru, it's also Honda that started importing a ton less vehicles," Seher told the newspaper. "It's all the Japanese manufacturers."