The Renault Nissan Alliance has now made the port of Tyne in the Northeast of England its common entry point for vehicle imports to the UK, including Nissan, Infiniti and Dacia models. The carmaker has been using the port since 1995, whereas Renault had been using the nearby port of Teesport.

The port of Tyne is Europe’s sixth busiest for handling finished vehicles and last year handled more than 666,000 vehicles, with Nissan its top user.

The move to consolidate is part of a unified logistics strategy that has already generated more than €200m ($256m) in annual savings, according to the company. That is expected to rise to €220m in 2013.

In a video released by Renault Nissan, Colin MacDonald, vice-president of Alliance Logistics Europe, called the move to combine brands at the port of Tyne “a genuine breakthrough for the Alliance”. The first shipment of Dacia Duster and Nissan Micra models was delivered in March from the Alliance plant in Chennai, India, while the company also plans to bring in Renault Sandero models from Romania through the port.

Historically, Nissan has used the port of Tyne, while Renault imported vehicles to the region using the port of Teesport. “We worked many many times to try to merge these operations into one port, but the economics never really worked,” said John Martin, Nissan’s senior vice-president, manufacturing, purchasing and supply chain management for Europe. “The Dacia launch in the UK became the crucial event which enabled us to merge to one port.”

Renault also uses the port of Southampton on the south coast in England.

According to MacDonald, the move to consolidate volume imports means the Alliance can bring around 495,000 vehicles through the same facility. “That brings a fixed cost reduction for Nissan, as well as Renault enjoying the cheaper rates,” said MacDonald.

“It is not just that we use the same port,” said Christian Mardrus, Renault-Nissan Alliance’s managing director for logistics. “It is that now we share the complete chain, from production to the delivery to the dealers.”

MacDonald said that the Alliance launched a common tender in 2012 between Renault and Nissan brands, which enabled it to get the best rates for inland distribution. Since around 2010, Renault and Nissan have launched common RFQs for ports and distribution, which has tended to result in sharing the same providers (read more here).

According to Paul Maddison, general manager, Alliance Logistics Europe, Inbound Engineering, the vehicles are delivered to the port by NMCC or Höegh vessels and are then moved by road to their UK stocking point at Nissan’s Sunderland Plant by the trucking provider Stobart’s. From there, the vehicles are sent to UK dealerships by one of six road hauliers.

Asked whether Leaf exports would fill return flows, Maddison said that it depended on the optimisation of car flows and whether Nissan was the main user of the vessel.

“The reality is that about 80% of Nissan volumes are exported and therefore the port of Tyne is the biggest exporter [location] within the UK, accounting for 80% [of Nissan’s volumes],” said Maddison.

More information on the consolidated port entry strategy can be found here

Read the July-September edition of Finished Vehicle Logistics for interviews with Colin MacDonald and Frans Kroon, manager of outbound engineering for Alliance Logistics Europe.