India's Shipping Ministry has revealed that it is preparing a feasibility study into the movement of locally built finished vehicles by sea for sale in the domestic market. The move would entail linking the ports near to Chennai, in the southeast of the country with those around Gujurat, including the port of Mundra, which would then serve Delhi and surrounding regions by road.
According to Nitin Gadkari, minister for road, transport, highways and shipping, the idea behind the route is to minimise fuel costs. He added that the same route could also be utilised to move finished vehicles from other manufacturers, such as Maruti, to destinations in the south.
By using a ocean alternative Gadkari calculated that transport costs could be reduced from 1.5 rupees per kilometre by road to just 0.55 rupees per kilometre, which does not include any concomitant environmental savings.
The port of Mundhra has emerged as a major player for Maruti Suzuki while the port of Chennai is India’s largest vehicle export hub largely due to business from Hyundai, though it now has issues relating to the amount of space available for vehicle volumes.
Ennore port, located close to Chennai, exported 449,720 cars in 2013 from manufacturers such as Nissan, Ford and Ashok Leyland based at Chennai, Toyota at Bangalore and Honda at Delhi. The port has a ro-ro facility, which was built with Nissan and Indian government support, to handle exports from the Renault Nissan Oragadam manufacturing plant. It has a 10,000-car capacity storage yard. The port also has 24-hour accessibility, unlike Chennai.
The government is also looking into the feasibility of a waterway link between Gangotri, Kanpur, Allahabad and Kolkata for cargo and passenger movement.