NJ ports process over 400,000 automobiles each year

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Foreign-made cars have to get here somehow, and directly to New Jersey from abroad is not the automatic route for all such vehicles.

But with the offer of financial incentives and a seemingly robotic process in place to manage everything that comes in and goes out, the Port of New York and New Jersey is one of the country’s main gateways for imports and vehicle exports.

“In 2021, through November, we processed over 425,000 automobiles,” Mike Bozza, deputy director of business development for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, told New Jersey 101.5. “We are at the center of the largest consumer market in the world.”

The Newark and Jersey City terminals are the port’s hubs for this 24-hour activity. Vehicles arrive on what are called ro-ro ships (cargo is rolled on and off, not shipped in containers), which are essentially floating parking decks.

“Some of them then have up to 14 levels and can carry more than 8,500 cars,” Bozza said.

The ports host vehicles made by nearly every major automotive player, from Ford and Nissan to Maserati, Ferrari and Polestar.

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

American cars are loaded onto the ship Fernleaf at Pier 13 in Port Newark 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 the move of Foreign Auto Preparation Service Inc. to Port Newark.

Today, the port consistently ranks among the country’s top five vehicle export and import routes. Bozza said the port offers financial incentives to automakers that bring more volume to the Garden State.

Volkswagen unloading at Port Newark in 1963 (Port Authority of New York and New Jersey)

Volkswagen unloading at Port Newark in 1963 (Port Authority of New York and New Jersey)

Once an incoming vessel is docked, a streamlined process unloads the vehicles into the automatic processing facilities, where workers inspect the vehicles and make other adjustments before the vehicles are shipped to dealerships nationwide.

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

The terminals also receive outbound cars traveling to New Jersey from locations such as Canada and the Midwest.

Contact reporter Dino Flammia at [email protected]

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