Automakers will have another shipping option from the United States to New Zealand and Australia when Hoeegh Autoliners begins offering a monthly direct service from the Port of Baltimore in March.
The impetus for the new route is a new contract with a ‘Detroit three’ automaker (General Motors, Ford Motor Company, and Fiat Chrysler), Shane Warren, head of the Americas region, told Automotive News.
He declined to identify the customer.
Car manufacturing in Australia ended last year when General Motors (GM) closed its Holden operations in South Australia. Toyota Motor Corp. closed its operations in neighbouring Victoria and Ford terminated production at two plants in Victoria the previous year.
Currently Hoeegh requires going through ports in Europe, where vehicles are transferred to another vessel, however the new monthly service will have faster transit times and require less handling, which minimises the potential for damage.
“Time to market is important for the customer,” Warren said.
Hoeegh’s service puts it in direct competition with Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics, who also offers direct ocean service to the Australia and New Zealand region from the U.S.
The Hoeegh vessels will originate in Europe and discharge vehicles in Baltimore before being loaded with exports from the unnamed customer.
Vessels also will stop in Jacksonville, Fla., another major auto port, before heading through the Panama Canal to the Mexican port of Lazaro Cardenas, where vehicles produced by the Detroit 3 car company also will be loaded.
The rotation will continue through the ports of Auckland, Brisbane, Port Kembla, Melbourne and Fremantle.