Mazda will begin in September importing automobiles for the Northeast market through Baltimore after signing a five-year contract with auto processor AMPORTS, according to the Maryland Port Administration.
The Japanese automaker expects to move about 65,000 vehicles a year through AMPORTS' Chesapeake Auto Terminal, which is privately owned and technically is not part of the Port of Baltimore.
Mazda is switching its Northeast gateway from Newark in the Port of New York/New Jersey, MPA spokesman Richard Scher said. The decision will create 160 direct jobs and support another 290 indirect jobs, according to the MPA.
One of the port authority's primary goals is to help create conditions within and around the port's footprint for imports and exports to help expand the economy.
Vehicles expected to come through the Port of Baltimore include the MX-5 Miata, Mazda 2, Mazda 6, and CX-5 and CX-9 SUVs.
The Port of Baltimore handles more autos and light trucks than any other port in the nation, when volumes from private and public terminals are combined. Last year, the port processed 652,000 vehicles, an 18-percent increase from 2011. It is ahead of last year's pace so far in 2013, with volume up by 9 percent through the first half of the year. In June, a record 22,997 cars were exported around the world.
Earlier this year, Fiat began importing vehicles for East Coast destinations through the Port of Baltimore. Other auto manufacturers that use the port include Chrysler, Ford, Mercedes, BMW, Honda, Toyota, Subaru, Mitsubishi, Jaguar, Land Rover, GM and Lamborghini.
Jacksonville, Fla.-based AMPORTS loads, unloads, preps and delivers more than 1 million vehicles at terminals in Maryland, Florida, California and Mexico. The Chesapeake Terminal is 109 acres and includes a 56,400-square-foot garage with a body shop and two paint booths. The facility has 18 loading lanes for trucks and has rail service from CSX Transportation. - Eric Kulisch