Car Terminal Alicante has established an import-export facility for finished vehicles in the Mediterranean Spanish port of Alicante at Muelles de Poniente. It will mainly handle vehicles being exported to Asia or imported into Spain from that region, as well as sending rental cars to companies in the Balearic and Canary Islands.

An initial forecast suggests that in its first year, the Alicante terminal will handle 44,000 units.

According to José Ripoll, president of Alicante Port Authority, the long-term aim is to establish a fully functional terminal for new vehicles in the port.

Car Terminal Alicante is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Link Logistics, which is itself a joint-venture between Logiberica and Portugal's leading logistics operator the Barraqueiro group. Responsible for implementation of the project are Pedro Ruiz (administrator) and Salvador Sendra (managing director), both of whom have considerable experience in this sector.

According to Sendra, the terminal aims to capture all types of finished vehicle and ro-ro traffic, including cars, trucks, tractors and other commercial vehicles. He observed that Alicante has strong links with North Africa and pointed out that finished vehicles built in Spain are often exported to the Maghreb via the port of Marseilles.

"Alicante would offer an interesting alternative because it would lead to both the reduction of terrestrial transport costs and also those related to time," he said, also pointing out that Alicante is Portugal's natural outlet into the Mediterranean, with transit times of just 24 hours.

The Ford/VW joint venture plant Autoeuropa near the port of Setubal in Portugal is about 24 hours from Alicante by rail via Madrid and also by short sea shipping from Setubal itself. There is a current EU project to improve rail links from that part of Portugal to speed up the movement of cross-border freight, which could include vehicles.

Implementation of the Alicante terminal project will be undertaken in three phases. Initially, the terminal will have space to store 2,000 units within the port. Significantly, a new rail link is been built adjacent to the terminal, which will help reduce transport costs.

Phase 2 will see additional space added to the terminal and also the provision of a headquarters building/workshop, where value-added services will be offered, such as adding number plates, removing plastic and other coatings, vehicle cleaning and so on. The final phase should see Car Terminal Alicante being able to manage 5,000 slots and also provide a complete raft of services that clients ask for.