As part of a number of options being explored by Volkswagen for new logistics routes into the Russian market, the German carmaker has completed a test delivery of vehicles to the Port of St Petersburg.
The mix of passenger and commercial vehicles – 50 VW Golf and 50 VW Crafter vans – were unloaded at the port by Third Stevedoring Company, which is jointly operated and promoted by JSC Sea Port of St Petersburg and BLG Automobile Logistics St Petersburg.
The full service is expected to begin in January next year according to BLG company spokesman Andreas Heines, but an exact figure on vehicle throughput has yet to be established.
The vehicles were brought from Hanko on a KESS (K-Line European Sea Highway Services) vessel that operates a weekly service from Bremerhaven via the Finnish Port of Hanko, as well as Paldiski in Estonia, and onward to St Petersburg.
The contract between BLG and JSC Sea Port of St. Petersburg was signed in February this year and there are two ro-ro areas involved. Third Stevedoring Company put the first phase of operations at its vehicle terminal into operation in May with 48,000m2 of storage space allocated. First Stevedoring Company, which also operates at the port, has 50,000m2 ready for vehicle operation and an extension for a further 150,000m2. Both companies are part of JSC Sea Port of St Petersburg.
Volkswagen is working with several truck providers in Russia for distribution to the dealerships.
Another trial shipment of 200 Mercedes passenger cars shipped out from Paldiski to Third Stevedoring Company at St.Petersburg is currently on the way.
The cars will be picked up at St.Petersburg by the truck provider Autotechnoimport (ATI) and will be delivered directly to the dealership.
The Russian market has decreased by 51% after the first eight months of 2009, according to the Association of European Businesses, and is predicted to fall to sales of 1.4m from more than 3m, with a heavy drop in imports that has hurt much of the recent developments in the Port of St Petersburg. The VW Group has proved resilient, however, showing a 21% decline, which makes it the third best selling carmaker in Russia after Avtovaz and General Motors. It ranked eighth in 2008.