Volume for finished vehicles recovered strongly at most European ports in 2010, according to a recent study carried out by Finished Vehicle Logistics. Data collected across nearly 30 ports showed an increase of nearly 24%, even as most ports remained well off the record years of 2007 or 2008 (read more here). 
Last year saw little change at the top of the table, with Belgium’s port of Zeebrugge staying in the number one position and increasing throughput by just under 25% on 2009 figures to just more than 1.6m, still admittedly far short of its 2.3m peak in 2008. Bremerhaven and Emden in Germany also remained in positions two and three, respectively.
But there has been change elsewhere, notably around the UK, with vehicle imports to the port of Tyne having doubled in 2010 over the previous year. This, along with 40% growth in the port’s larger export trade, has given an overall growth figure of nearly 50% for the year. It is the highest rate increase amongst the leading European ports, pushing it to seventh from 14th last year, with 555,000 total units handled, led by Nissan and VW traffic. Höegh is also helping to boost figures there since its terminal opened last June handling a variety of OEMs for transhipment of vehicles.
Tyne has also received its first shipment of Nissan Leaf electric vehicles in February at the same dock where Sunderland-built models will leave for European customers in little over two years.
Elsewhere in the UK, the port of London dropped from fifth position five to eight, while Southampton climbed one place to nine. Bristol dropped from eight to ten in the table and said it expects the coming year to be challenging, with car sales in the UK forecast to decline.
Though it experienced a small drop off in imports, Southampton registered a total increase in trade of 18% thanks to a near one-third growth in exports. Southampton is the only port in the UK to have invested in multi-story car terminals and is about to start work on the fourth such facility expected to be open towards the end of 2012.
Back in the top five, the port of Emden in Germany was one of the few ports to approach its all-time high, just 2,000 vehicles off its record year in 2008 when it hit 1,020,000 units moved. With volume forecast to expand around 100,000 cars in 2011 it is set to become one of the first ports in Europe to fully recover from the recession, thanks largely to VW growth.
Bremerhaven, meanwhile, remains Germany’s top car port and the largest in Europe for export. Total units handled in 2010 were just more than 1.5m led by recovery in exports by German OEMs.