By Mark Edward Nero
In calendar year 2016, 291,000 vehicles rolled through Port of Portland, Oregon terminals to foreign markets and from domestic manufacturers, representing an 11 percent increase over 2015, according to the port’s annual year-end report, released Feb. 14.
The report also states that Portland is the top auto export seaport on the West Coast.
“With our proximity to Asia, Portland has become a leading auto distribution hub,” Keith Leavitt, the port’s chief commercial officer, said. “We’ve seen significant growth in exports since 2012 and expect that positive trend to continue in 2017.”
American-made cars are shipped by rail from assembly plants to the Port’s docks, where vehicles are driven on roll-on/roll-off (ro/ro) vessels bound for China and other parts of the Far East.
Many imports such as Hyundais, Toyotas and Hondas make their first stop in Portland before being shipped to dealerships across the region.
The port began auto shipping in 1953 with the import of Volkswagens through Terminal 1. Since then, well-over 11 million vehicles have come through port facilities.
The Port of Portland and tenant Auto Warehousing Co. recently secured state grant funding for a $7 million expansion of auto handling facilities in the Rivergate Industrial District near Terminal 6. Plans call for AWC to develop a new, 18.9-acre storage and staging yard to support the continued growth of export vehicles.
“Vehicle imports and exports provide more than 600 direct local jobs for dockworkers, processors and others working in distribution and transportation throughout the supply chain,” Leavitt said. “Each vehicle imported brings an estimated economic benefit of $275 to the region.”