Mitsui OSK Lines (MOL) has launched services from the east and west coasts of Mexico to meet demand for vehicle exports from there to the US.

On the East Coast, Nissan Motor Car Carrier (NMCC) and World Logistics Service (USA), both divisions of MOL, are working together to provide a weekly shuttle service from the port of Veracruz to the following ports: Jacksonville (Florida), Brunswick (Georgia), Baltimore (Maryland), Newark (New Jersey) and Davisville (Rhode Island). The total journey to between Veracruz and Davisville is between 8-10 days and services began on March 20, with a shipment of Honda vehicles according to Norio Abe, vice-president, Mitsui OSK Bulk Shipping (USA).

The companies are currently using two vessels on the service – Cosmos Ace and Harmony Ace. The first Nissan shipment will take place on April 14, followed by Mazda on April 22 as the company builds up the service from its initial 50% capacity at launch. Up to 7,000 vehicles will have been exported by the end of April but this will build to 13,500 when both vessels are sailing at full capacity.

Services on the West Coast began in the second week of March from the port of Lázaro Cárdenas, again with a shipment of vehicles for American Honda, though Abe said the service was slow at this stage.

“We expect to see the volume pick up in the latter half of this year,” he told Automotive Logistics.

Abe explained that the West Coast service differed in that, rather that using shuttle vessels to the US on the service, MOL was building it into its weekly trans-Atlantic service, which starts in Europe and calls at the US East Coast before passing through the Panama canal. The service will take in Lázaro Cárdenas on its way to the US West Coast to discharge European made vehicles.

It will call at San Diego (California), Portland (Oregon) and Tacoma (Washington). That service will also call at the Candadian port of New Westminster in British Columbia.

As well as American Honda, MOL will be providing services for Mazda on the West Coast leg of the service, as well as “other OEMs who have an interest in the trade route”. The service is expected to move anything between 1,000-2,000 vehicles per week.

Of the 3m vehicles produced in Mexico in 2013, around 80% were exported according to MOL. The US is the principal market for these exports.

Honda started using Lázaro Cárdenas for US exports last month to export vehicles produced at its plant in Celaya to North America. The plant, which opened in February this year, is making the 2015 model year Fit. Once it reaches full capacity the plant is expected to have an annual output of 200,000 vehicles. As well as North America those vehicles will also be exported to Central and South America.

Port processor Amports handled the vehicles at the port.

Honda is the latest in a growing list of carmakers using Lázaro Cárdenas to export and import vehicles. Last year the carmaker's vice-president of logistics and sales planning, Dennis Manns, outlined plans for short-sea services from Mexico to the US.

Volkswagen, Nissan, Ford, Chrysler and GM also use the port and annual volumes in and out of the port have now exceeded 214,000.

“MOL assumes exports of automobiles from Mexico will continue to expand, and with our 50 years of experience in the car carrier operations, MOL offers continual improvements to the safety and reliability of the car carrier services to meet the rapidly growing demand for vehicle transport [across] the nation,” said the company in a statement.