Automotive throughput at the port of Bremerhaven is lagging behind container and contract business despite a strong pre-tax performance overall according to port operator BLG.
“In 2010, we expect pre-tax earnings of around €30m (previous year: €16.5m), thus clearly exceeding our expectations,” said BLG’s CEO Detthold Aden at the Bremen state press conference on Monday this week. But he added that while the development in the container business division contract logistics went better than planned, automotive was still in a difficult position.
The company reports that, with around 1.58m vehicles, the total turnover in Bremerhaven was 31.5% higher this year than 2009, but was still 450,000 vehicles less than the record year of 2008.
“The problem lies in the fact that only 350,000 vehicles were imported,” said the company in a statement. “This is a decline of 8% compared to the already low number from the previous year.”
Vehicle exports, which have increased by 50% to around 1.2m vehicles, are still significantly short of making up for the lack of imports and at the technical centre, the number of vehicles processed halved to 225,000 according to the company.
Car transport has also been significantly affected according to Aden: “Our trucks are running full from southern Germany to Bremerhaven but they are hardly being reloaded when they get there. Empty runs are not paid for, but we will have to pay the road tolls.”
The import problem is in part related to the incentive schemes that many European countries adopted in the face of the economic downturn. Market saturation in 2009 affected imports from Japan and Korea coming through Bremerhaven. Asian manufacturers are additionally building new capacities in Eastern Europe, which feed demand in Western Europe.
Hyundai is a good example of this and a spokesman told Automotive Logistics News that despite the growth in demand for its cars in Europe it did not have to increase exports from Korea to Europe because the company was producing more cars from its plants in Turkey and the Czech Republic. “Hyundai’s best-selling models in Europe, in the B and C segment, are mostly produced outside of Korea,” he added.
BLG transports vehicles from Eastern Europe and distributes them to the dealers via its car terminal in Kelheim, but these quantities are lacking in Bremerhaven. The company does report, however, that its BLG AutoRail division is recovering well with rail transport volume doubling to 200,000 vehicles compared to 2009.
In the Contract Logistics division, BLG was able to seal a major new deal for Bremen with Volkswagen. With an annual volume of around 400,000m3 of car parts, BLG has been supplying the worldwide VW factories since November 2010. Read more here
In other news, BLG has also forecast a number of changes at the management level. At end of May 2013 Aden will retire following a 14-year tenure as chairman of the executive board. Deputy chairman Manfred Kuhr and finance board member Hillert Onnen will similarly be leaving. Aden said: “It is my goal to ensure BLG further develops in a determined fashion despite the change in management. That’s why the supervisory board has temporarily appointed a sixth executive board member. Dr. Bernd Lieberoth-Leden will be responsible for the Contract Logistics division starting in early 2011.”