FORD Spain is due to set up its national distribution hub in the port of Valencia, a move that will strengthen the already-booming production of the brand at its plant in nearby Almussafes.
The plan will also increase Valencia port's strategic relevance, manager of the harbour authority, Aurelio Martínez.
At present, Ford rents a space of 50,000 square metres in the east pier area to ship cars and their parts manufactured in Almussafes to other countries, and a dedicated direct rail connection 25 kilometres away leading straight to the port.
Until now, the port authority has renewed Ford's licence to use the area every three years since 1976, but now the motor brand wants to take it over on a concession basis – initially for seven years, although renewable thereafter.
And the motor company wants to treble its space, since 95% of the 400,000-plus vehicles produced annually in Almussafes are shipped abroad and efficient, cost-effective logistics systems means greater profits at source.
Ford is said to be keen to move to the north pier, known as the Xitá area.
Last year, part of the production had to be diverted to Sagunto, north of the city, because Valencia port did not have enough room to store all the cars due for export.
The plan is said to be 'highly ambitious', and Ford would use its shipping area for other models being imported into Spain which currently use other ports around the country.
Almussafes currently manufactures the S-Max, Galaxy, Mondeo, Kuga, Transit and Torneo, but other Ford models sold in Spain are imported.
The aim is for the section of Valencia port to become the national logistics hub for the brand.
Sagunto could suffer as a result of the move, although the harbour authority says Ford will still be able to use the port area it has employed up to now if it needs extra space.
Valencia and Sagunto together handled nearly 690,000 vehicles last year alone – a hike of 40.36% on 2014, a trend that looks set to continue this year.
Already, in January, vehicle import and export operations rose by 38%, a figure expected to rise still further if Ford manages to set up its hub in Valencia.
Valencia port closed the year with €10 million in turnover, managing to reduce its debt to €500m, or by 6.61%.
Debt reduction for the port is a 'priority', says Martínez, since this would allow Valencia to reduce customs duties and become more competitive.
The deficit is expected to reduce by a further €100m this year.