The port of Ennore on the east coast of India is aiming to become the country’s number one port for vehicle exports, according to its director of operations Sanjay Kumar., According to Kumar, the port hopes to be handling between 250,000-300,000 units by 2015, which will require it to double its current capacity for vehicle handling.

“We are increasing storage space in order to increase efficiency in handling more cars,” said Kumar. “The additional space will be ready by the middle of 2014-15.”

The port exported 145,000 units in the 2012-13 fiscal year and this year is expected to export between 175,000-200,000 units.

With Nissan having committed substantial traffic to Ennore as of last year, both Honda and Ford have now followed suit.

After several successful trials in 2013, Honda Cars India is ready to make extensive use of the port to export cars from its manufacturing plants in North India to South Africa. Honda switched from the western port of Mumbai to Ennore last year even though it meant almost doubling the land journey to 2,200km from its base in Greater Noida, near Delhi.

According to Honda, despite the distance, Ennore presents advantages to those ports on India's west coast because its vehicle handling facilities are more attractive and also more cost effective than those of competitors. The fact that other vehicle manufacturers also use the port means that it has better availability of car carrier services, too.

Earlier, Honda had looked at both Karaikal and Chennai ports before settling on Ennore.

The port's dedicated ro-ro berth, which was commissioned in January 2012, can accommodate 8,000 cars and has a storage area for up to 10,000 medium-sized vehicles, making it the largest at any Indian port. In the short term, another storage area, for up to 3,000 vehicles, is also planned (read more here).

Honda’s Brio and Amaze models are sold in South Africa and around 6,000 a year are exported via Ennore, using dedicated block trains following the recent inauguration of a rail siding.

The rail link has also been key in capturing traffic, with Nissan, Toyota, Volvo and Ashok Leyland all now making use of the port to rotate out consignments of finished vehicles by sea.

In addition, officials revealed that an agreement is also being finalised, that will see Ford India use the port as its export base, possibly using rail, to connect it with its production centres at Maraimalai Nagar and Kancheepuram. Ford currently exports 20,000 units annually through Ennore, but hopes to increase this to 60,000 units within two years.