Mazda has started large-scale transport of vehicles to Russia using the Trans-Siberian Railroad (TSR). The first train left Zarubino on October 3rd and will arrive in Moscow on October 13th.
Mazda is the first carmaker to use the route for regular traffic. In the early stages of development of the TSR, many industry insiders thought that the cost per car would be prohibitive for carmakers, but Jorgen Oleson, VP Customer Service, Logistics and IS for Mazda, told Automotive Logistics that the cost of using the Trans Siberian rail route is comparable to the more traditional water shipment route via Bremerhaven and Kotka.
An extra benefit is that Mazda has estimated that the company will avoid adding more than 100,000 tons of CO2 to its carbon footprint by not using the vessel fuel between Japan and Kotka. Recent concerns about capacity for shipping finished vehicles were also relevant. Oleson revealed that it allowed Mazda to: “open a new route in a tight shipping market”.
The vehicles, which come from its Hiroshima and Hofu plants in Japan, will travel 9,300 kilometres over 10 days between Zarubino (near Vladivostok, where they are delivered by ship) to Mikhnevo terminal in Moscow, which opened in July. Mikhnevo is the largest rail terminal for car transshipment in the Russian Federation.
RailTransAuto is providing nine dedicated block trains of 30 fully-enclosed rail cars that will run once a week for nine weeks carrying 1,000 vehicles per load. The vehicles, which will initially all be Mazda3 models, will have the added protective measure of being covered with a wrapguard designed by Mazda.
The service will supplement existing Mazda deliveries from Japan via ship and road from the West but will reduce delivery time by up to 30 days for high-demand vehicles. This was one of the reasons for introducing this rail movement, according to Oleson. The shortening of the time in transit also saves Mazda capital. “It also means,” he said, “that we are better able to change production to meet changes in customer demand patterns.”
Mazda’s sales forecast for Russia in 2008 is 78,000.