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NJ ports handle more than 400,000 automobiles each year

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Foreign-made cars have to get here somehow, and direct from overseas to New Jersey isn’t the automatic route for all of these vehicles.

But with financial incentives on offer and a seemingly robotic process that handles all move-ins and moves-out, the Port of New York and New Jersey is one of the country’s top gateways for importing and exporting vehicles.

“In 2021, through November, we’ve handled over 425,000 cars,” Mike Bozza, deputy director of commercial development at the Port of New York and New Jersey, told New Jersey 101.5. “We are at the center of what is probably the largest consumer market in the world.”

Terminals in Newark and Jersey City are the port’s hubs for these 24-hour activities. The vehicles come on so-called RoRo ships (the cargo is rolled on and off, not shipped in containers), which are essentially floating parking decks.

“Some of these have up to 14 levels and can carry over 8,500 cars,” Bozza said.

The ports process vehicles from almost every major player in the automotive industry, from Ford and Nissan to Maserati, Ferrari and Polestar.

American cars are loaded onto the Fernleaf vessel at Port Newark Berth 13 in March 1965. (Port Authority of New York and New Jersey)

American cars are loaded onto the Fernleaf vessel at Port Newark Berth 13 in March 1965. (Port Authority of New York and New Jersey)

According to a blog post by PANYNJ, the seaport’s history with vehicles dates back more than six decades, beginning with Foreign Auto Preparation Service Inc.’s move to Port Newark.

Today, the port consistently ranks among the country’s five most important transport routes for the export and import of vehicles. Bozza said the port offers automakers financial incentives that attract more volume to the Garden State.

Unloading Volkswagens at Port Newark in 1963 (Port Authority of New York and New Jersey)

Unloading Volkswagens at Port Newark in 1963 (Port Authority of New York and New Jersey)

In a streamlined process, once an incoming ship is docked, vehicles are unloaded into the automated processing facilities, where workers inspect the vehicles and make other adjustments before the vehicles are shipped to dealerships across the country.

“Certainly, a large majority of the vehicles that come here remain in this market,” Bozza said.

The terminals are also receivers of outbound cars coming into New Jersey from places like Canada and the Midwest.

Contact reporter Dino Flammia at [email protected]

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