German automaker BMW has begun shipping vehicles into the United States through the Port of Baltimore, part of a five-year contract that will bring up to 50,000 new BMWs through the port each year. This new business for the port is expected to generate about 200 new direct, indirect and induced jobs. The first shipment carried 320 vehicles.
BMW will team with Mercedes-Benz under a five-year agreement and use their vehicle processing center at the Maryland Port Administration’s Fairfield/Masonville auto terminal for the new business. Vehicle processing facilities add specific features to cars once they are off-loaded from their ship. Features may include special detailing, audio components, protective coatings or other items. After a vehicle is processed, it is taken to its dealer destination.
BMW has said the deal will help with shipping logistics and will be more cost-efficient as the Port of Baltimore is the closest East Coast port to the Midwest.
“We are pleased to have the first of many BMW and MINI shipments arrive from Germany and the U.K. through the port of Baltimore, a location that will help streamline the time and distance it takes for our vehicles to reach dealers in the Central Region,” says Jim Goldsmith, national vehicle distribution manager, BMW of North America.
The deal will provide another boost for the Port of Baltimore’s auto business which has begun to recover following the global economic downturn. The port’s auto business is down only 1.5% from this same time last year. It was down as much as 50% in early 2009.
The Port of Baltimore employs about 16,500 workers. The port is responsible for about $3.6 billion in personal wage and salary income. Activities at the Port of Baltimore generate about $388 million in state and local taxes.