India’s car makers, led by the largest of them, Maruti Udyog Ltd, plan to set up dedicated car export ports to overcome the existing congestion, which may crimp India’ s overseas automobile sales target.
Nissan Motor Co. and Ashok Leyland Ltd are among the companies that are scouting for dedicated port facilities, said a shipping ministry official, who didn’t wish to be quoted. The dedicated ports will cater only to ships that have built-in ramps, which allow vehicles to be driven on board. The land size at the dedicated automobile ports will be such that at least 60,000 vehicles can be parked at a time, 15 times the capacity of existing facilities, which allow only 4,000 vehicles.
Car exports from India are set to nearly triple in the next three years to 5,00,000 cars per year. In 2006, Indian car makers sold about 1,76,000 vehicles overseas. While Maruti, which makes half the cars sold in the country, has plans to export 1,50,000 cars a year starting 2009, Hyundai Motor India Ltd, the country’s largest car exporter, has targetedoverseas sales of 3,00,000 cars a year from 2010.
In South Korea, Hyundai’s biggest factory is located at Ulsan, on the periphery of the port, and cars are rolled off the shop floor onto the ships.
The car makers are looking at as many as eight locations in Gujarat, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu for an unspecified number of ports.
Car makers typically face the problem of inadequate parking space and berth availability for car-carrying ships. In Mumbai port, the priority is for passenger ships, and there is typically a waiting period of up to four days, say car industry officials.
In nearby Navasheva, which goes by the name of Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust, the busiest port in the country, which handled 2,631 ships in fiscal 2006, Maruti is unwelcome.
“We were told by Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust that we are not preferred partners,” says Subash Chaturvedi, manager, exports, at Maruti. “We have requested the government to explore the possibility of giving us dedicated berths at ports.”
Companies are assessing locations close to the Kandla, Mundra and Hazira ports in Gujarat, apart from sites in Maharashtra, and Ennore and Chennai in Tamil Nadu, sources in the know said.
A public-private partnership model is likely to be adopted for developing the ports.