The Port of Jacksonville has said it expects automotive handling to increase by 40% in fiscal year 2010 compared to the same period last year.
The expected rise of up to 180,000 vehicles will bring the estimated total of new and used cars handled at the port to more than 600,000 in the coming year according to Jacksonville Port Authority (Jaxport), which the company expects to keep it in the number two spot for vehicle handling on the East Coast behind the Port of New York/New Jersey.
In 2008 Jacksonville handled 453,414 new units, which dropped last year to 207,600 according to figures from Port Import Export Reporting Service (PIERS). Jaxport confirmed that used vehicles are expected to make up the 200,000+ discrepancy between the average of 387,000 gained from the anticipated rise and the 600,000 figure quoted.
Before last year’s downturn the port was faced with the need to find space for finished vehicles. As Roy Schleicher, Jaxport’s chief commercial officer, told Finished Vehicle Logistics last October, the port’s project to build additional multi-story parking for vehicles went “from the back burner to the refrigerator.”
But with the anticipated increase in throughput, the question over storage capacity is expected to be brought back to the burner. "It's true, discussions on garages were put on ice due to the downturn," Schleicher told Automotive Logistics News this week. "We will heat up talks again this year with the auto customers to see if there is renewed interest. Any garage system would be a cooperation between the port and the auto customers."
These discussions could include previous plans for a common-user space for up to 5,000 vehicles at the port and additional storage space on Blount Island. Jaxport has a 754-acre container and ro-ro facility at the Blount Island Marine Terminal and there has been some talk of reorganising the space to accommodate a potential 200,000 extra units.
"We are trying to adapt to the need for space at both our Blount Island Marine Terminal and our Talleyrand Marine Terminal for the auto processors," said Schleicher. " At the present time the arriving cargo has not been a problem to handle due to the ebb and flow, but we expect there will be some space issues in the future."
Schleicher also said that Jaxport was looking at other locations near the terminal for storage as well as working with its terminal operators to help when the need arises.
"Remember, you don't see 200,000 vehicle at one time," he said. "They flow on a fairly regular basis. We handled 650,000 cars in the past, so an anticipated increase over last year's numbers should not be an issue for us at all."