Bangalore: Developer and operator of the Mundra Port, Mundra Port & Special Economic Zone Ltd (MPSEZ), is expected to announce a partnership with Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics (WWL) and NYK Line this week to set up a dedicated automobile terminal at the western coast port, according to an executive at the Adani group.
“Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics, NYK Line and MPSEZ will sign a memorandum of understanding in the next few days to set up a multi-user dedicated automobile terminal at Mundra port,” said the executive who didn’t want to be named ahead of the announcement, which could come as early as Monday. “We want to turn Mundra port into a hub for automobile exports.”
Being a private port, Mundra is free to set its own tariffs unlike the 11 Union government-owned major ports.
The expected announcement of the partnership with WWL and NYK Line comes weeks after Tata Motors Ltd picked Sanand near Ahmedabad as the site to manufacture the Nano car.
A spokesperson for Adani Group, which is promoted by billionaire Gautam Adani, declined to comment. WWL and NYK Line could not be reached for comment over the weekend.
WWL, owned jointly by Swedish shipping firm Wallenius Lines AB and Oslo-listed Norwegian shipping group Wilh. Wilhelmsen ASA, is a leading independent provider of global factory-to-dealer transport solutions for the automotive, agricultural and construction equipment industries. It operates about 65 pure car and truck carriers and roll-on roll-off vessels. Tokyo-headquartered NYK Line is one of the biggest pure car carriers, or PCC in the world.
In October, MPSEZ had signed an agreement with India’s largest car maker Maruti Suzuki India Ltd to develop a dedicated Rs100 crore, 250,000-units-a-year car export terminal, also to be managed by NYK Line. That terminal is expected to start operations in December, and the car handling capacity will be raised by an additional 400,000 units by 2010.
“Mundra will provide cost competitive support to Indian automobile industry for international trade and our aim is to make Mundra a hub for automobile exports,” Gautam Adani, MPSEZ’s chairman and managing director, had said in February while signing the agreement with Suzuki.
The setting up of a new dedicated facility to handle automobiles is part of Adani’s plan to expand Mundra’s cargo handling capacity to 50 million tonnes (mt) by 2010, from 30mt now and further to 120mt by 2015, the same executive said.
India is gradually becoming an export hub for small and mini cars, led by Japan’s Suzuki Motor Corp. and Korea’s Hyundai Motor Co.
Currently, Mumbai and Chennai are the only two ports that have terminals to handle export of automobiles. Pure car carriers and roll-on roll-off vessels operated by NYK Line, Mitsui OSK Lines (MOL) and K-Line, regularly call at these ports.
While Tata Motors, Suzuki, Ashok Leyland Ltd and Eicher Motors Ltd depend on Mumbai owing to the proximity to their production centres, Hyundai and Ford export cars through Chennai for the same reason. In October, Nissan Motor India Pvt. Ltd had signed an agreement with union government-owned Ennore Port Ltd near Chennai to export automobiles manufactured at its Oragadam plant, also close to Chennai.