BY LAND, VIA SEA: In the nearly 30 years since North Atlantic Distribution Inc. began operating in North Kingstown, its annual car shipments have grown from 35,000 to an expected 250,000. Above, Subaru XV Crosstreks arrive at the Port of Davisville.
At the Port of Davisville in North Kingstown, 250,000 cars will arrive by ship, rail and truck from major auto manufacturers this year, making it one of the nation’s top unloading spots for auto imports.
Bentley, Audi, Porsche, Subaru and Volkswagen, Ford and now, the newest arrival, Honda, are sending new cars from Europe, Japan and Mexico.
While most arrive by ship, Fords come by train from the Midwest and Canada, and some of the Subarus arrive by rail from Lafayette, Ind.
Honda, a substantial addition to the Port of Davisville’s portfolio, shipped its first cars to the Rhode Island port on March 31. About 18,000 Hondas are expected to arrive in Rhode Island by the end of the year.
“When we started at Davisville in 1986, we had 35,000 cars coming in,” said Michael Miranda, owner, president and CEO of North Atlantic Distribution Inc., or NORAD, which processes and distributes new automobiles for the manufacturers.
“We contact the manufacturers, negotiate the deals and bring in the customers,” said Miranda. “Our pricing has to be very competitive, and our quality has to be the best.”
Turnaround time for processing has to be fast, often just a few days, and then cars are sent by truck to 22 states.
The map tells the story. Competition is mainly from New York and Baltimore, as well as New Jersey, Philadelphia and Wilmington, Del.
“We have to do a super job because the market is mostly New York and south, that’s where the volume is,” said Miranda.
NORAD has a long-term lease for land at Quonset, a key element in making the port competitive, said Miranda.
“We have 170 acres just for automobiles,” he said. “We’re one of the largest importers of new vehicles in North America.”
The Port of Davisville has had four consecutive record-breaking years of auto imports, reaching 215,000 in 2013, according to Miranda. About 173,000 of those autos arrived by sea.
“We’ve been growing about 20 percent per year for several years,” said Miranda.
“We really expanded in 2002 when we acquired VW and Audi,” he added. “Growth really took off when we put in rail about six years ago. To be a world-class processor, you have to have rail.”
The 250,000 vehicles expected to arrive by the end of 2014 are part of a continuing push to grow that segment of Rhode Island’s economy.
“We’re working on a couple of other customers, and we’re close to closing deals,” said Miranda. “If we get one more auto manufacturer, we’ll be [more than] 300,000 cars by next year. “