US vehicle terminal operator Autoport, which processes vehicles through the port of Wilmington in Delaware, reports moving 115,000 vehicles through its facilities in CY2023. 


Autoport is managing to work with rail partners to create efficiencies and streamline processes

The company has long supported GM, Ford and Stellantis export volumes through the port since it set up business at Wilmington port 40 years ago, and exports accounted for around 55,000 of last year’s total handling.

North American ports were faced with a number of challenges in 2023 and in the first quarter of this year. A tightness of available capacity on ocean vehicle carriers as well as shortages for inland moves by road and rail has led in some cases to sporadic port calls and congestion at the ports, but according to Harry Hussein, head of business development at AutoPort, there was only a minor impact on dwell time at Autoport operations. 

“We have maintained close contact with our OEMs, rail and ocean carriers to ensure that the maximum number of units are loaded on each vessel,” said Hussein, adding that to date Autoport has only faced minor issues with both road and rail, managing to work with partners on both modes to create efficiencies and streamline processes. Export volumes are delivered to the port terminal by road and rail, while domestic distribution comes in via rail and is taken out using road haulage trucks.

Autoport (Wilmington)CY2023







Streamlining operations
In terms of gaining operational efficiency Hussein reports that Autoport has multiple verticals in finished vehicles and truck equipment upfitting. “We are working with our OEMs and technology partners to create our own customised system to optimise inventory and ground operations,” says Hussein. That is helping Autoport better navigate occasional bottlenecks in loading/unloading and the storage of vehicles.

One of the main disruptions to vehicle processing on the US east coast this year occurred when the Dali container vessel destroyed the Francis Scott Key bridge at the port of Baltimore on March 26. Vehicle volumes and other freight has been diverted to other ports, including to the port of Wilmington and working with the port concession operator – Port Wilmington – Autoport has processed 12,000 car equivalent units (CEUs), with imports accounting for 7,500 between April and May.

Looking ahead for the rest of the year Hussein said that Autoport would continue to monitor the global market geopolitical developments, particularly the disruption affecting vessel traffic through the Red Sea.