Tomorrow, November 9, 4,540 cars produced by General Motors at their factory in São José dos Campos, in the interior of the southeastern Brazilian state of São Paulo, will be loaded onto one ship at São Sebastião port, on the north shore of the state, from where they will be transported to Altamira, in Mexico.
This will be the largest export operation in the history of the terminal, and marks the beginning of the new structure installed at the location, which makes it possible for large vessels to dock.
According to the Dersa, the state-owned company that administers the port, the vehicles started being transported over two weeks ago. The cars shipped will be the Astra (medium), Corsa (compact), Meriva (minivan) and Montana (small pickup truck) models.
GM decided to use São Sebastião port due to its closeness to São José dos Campos and to its possibility of docking large vessels.
The state government wants to transform the terminal into an alternative to the port of Santos, the largest in the country, on the south shore of the state.
Santos port is further away from Paraíba valley, where the city of São José, an important industrial hub, is located.
This first shipping will be an experiment, but if it works out, the company may start using the terminal regularly.
Like most of the carmakers installed in the country, GM is a traditional car exporter. But it, like the others, does not only sell to Latin America.
The company also exports to more distant locations, like the Arab countries.
The largest market for the company in the region is Egypt, where they ship disassembled (CKD) vehicles in the Corsa Sedan and Astra Sedan lines, which are then assembled at a plant the company has in the country.
In all, GM hopes to export, up to the end of the year, the equivalent to US$ 1.5 billion in vehicles from its subsidiaries in Brazil and Argentina.
Regular shipping of vehicles from São Sebastião port stated in April, when Volkswagen signed a contract to ship 2,000 cars a month to Argentina.
However, São Sebastião is a small port. For the time being, there is only space for one vessel to dock at a time, and up to now only vessels capable of transporting up to 2,500 vehicles could dock.
With the construction of two “dolphins” – structures that permit the docking of large vessels that are larger than the wharf -, freighters with capacities for up to 4,900 may dock. The modification cost the state government over US$ 800,000.
Apart from vehicles, the port administered by Dersa currently ships ore, grain and live animals.
Every month a total of one thousand heads of cattle are shipped to the other countries in the Mercosur. Brazilian oil giant Petrobras also has a terminal in São Sebastião, where tankers dock.
The Dersa terminal currently transports around 400,000 tons of cargo a year. But the state government intends to increase the capacity.
There is a project for construction of a new wharf with a capacity for four vessels at a time, and there is also the intention of increasing the draft from the current 8.5 meters to 14 meters.
The cost of this project is estimated at US$ 20.5 million, plus US$ 7.1 million for the purchase of equipment.
If the project really does go ahead, the enterprise should be completed up to 2010 and should increase the port capacity to 3 million tons of cargo per year.
ANBA ”“ Brazil-Arab News Agency