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Iversen: Asian vehicles gaining market share

Tokyo: Japanese and South Korean car manufacturers are winning a larger share of the sports utility vehicle (SUV) market in the US and Europe, according to Wallenius Wilhemsen Logistics' boss Arild Iversen (pictured). Although the cars themselves are no smaller, consumers are becoming more discerning about engine size and efficiency, he says, with the latest Japanese engines around twice as efficient as traditional US-designed units.

Speaking exclusively to Seatrade Asia Online, the diversification of the vehicle trades is a challenge for operators, Iversen admits, and Asia exports are gaining ground. He cites Japanese cars built in Thailand as one example. Thai exports will top a million units this year, having risen more than three-fold since 2005.

Chinese production is also rising fast, Iversen notes, but the country's exports have climbed more slowly than expected. However, the country is gearing up to handle latest generation vessels, capable of handling up to 8,000 vehicles at a time. Exports are expected to pick up steadily as production outgrows the domestic market, he predicts. Meanwhile the Chinese are amongst the keenest consumers of luxury cars from Europe, with BMWs and Jaguars on the shopping lists of the well-to-do.

In India, WWL is in discussions with a number of ports over the possible siting of vehicle processing facilities, storage terminals and truck distribution hubs. Iversen will not be drawn on which ports are in the frame but says that new terminals in India are likely before long. He points out that sister company Eukor has been shipping South Korean cars out of India for at least the last five years.  [03/06/08]

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