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Port of Portland's auto imports and exports added up to 314,000 vehicles in 2017.

COURTESY: PORT OF PORTLAND - Shipped Ford tough. More American autos headed to Asia  through the Port of Portland in 2017  than in previous years.

The Port of Portland continues to be the leader on the U.S. West Coast for auto exports.

The Port shipped out more than 87,000 Ford vehicles in 2017. Many of them are

destined to China, where the rising middle class is fond of American products, particularly large trucks and SUVs made by Ford.

The Port's combined number of imports and exports added up to 314,000 vehicles. The 2017 total auto figures, compiled in the Port's annual year-end report, represent a 7.8 percent increase from 2016.

Last year's growth in exports alone is a 73 percent increase on 2016.

The space needed at the Port for adding lights and switching mirrors and stickers is growing. Last year, the Port and tenant Auto Warehousing Company added space for auto staging in the Rivergate Industrial District near Terminal 6.

The 18.9-acre storage and staging yard helped support the growth of export vehicles.

"Our export boom highlights the strong demand for American-made cars in Asia," said Keith Leavitt, the Port's chief commercial officer. "This positive trend translates into more than 600 direct local jobs for dockworkers, processors and others working in our supply chain."

Even as container service has dwindled to a trickle the Port is trying to diversify what goods come in and out of its waters (and airways). Auto import and export is lucrative.

Cars manufactured in the U.S. are shipped by rail from assembly plants to

the Port's docks, where vehicles are driven on "ro-ro" ships (roll-on/roll-off) bound

for China and other parts of the Far East. The Port also handles import model cars such as Hyundai, Toyota and Honda that make their first stop in Portland before

they are distributed to dealerships across the west.

The Port's auto story dates back to

1953 with the import of Volkswagens through Terminal 1. Since then, more than 11 million vehicles have come through Port facilities.

"As a top auto gateway on the West Coast, we create opportunities for skilled workers involved in the global auto manufacturing network," said Leavitt.


Joseph Gallivan
Reporter, The Business Tribune
971-204-7874
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