Zeebrugge_opt (2)The Port of Zeebrugge has announced plans to expand automotive capacity by 40% in response to strong demand.

Joachim Coens, chief executive of the Belgian port, said the need for additional capacity became evident when 58 hectares of new ground was recently made available.

“Demand for expansion from our current operators was [such] that we needed twice the surface to answer their needs,” he said.

In total 156 hectares will be made available in future, adding to the existing 390 hectares currently in use for car logistics in the inner port.

The port expects to reach a turnover of 3.4m vehicles by 2020, when the new capacity is in use. This is 40% more than the 2.43m unit throughput in 2015.

Initially, 28 hectares in the southwestern corner of the Southern Canal Dock will be made ready for use. A 400 metre long quay wall for this area has been under construction since October last year.

The additional 58 hectares on the left bank of the Southern Canal Dock will be accompanied by construction of a new 1,070 metre quay wall. Another 70 hectares at the Boudewijn Canal and 1,130 metre quay wall will be built to allow the mooring of sea vessels.

Currently, five terminal operators run the eight vehicle terminals at Zeebrugge. There are six pre-delivery and inspection centres and 140,000 parking spaces.

This year, the port expects to exceed last year’s record volume of vehicles by almost 20%, with 2.8m vehicles.