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Ford tests shipping cars from Mexico's Guaymas port to cut logistics costs

Published 06/18/2024, 03:10 PM
Updated 06/18/2024, 08:10 PM
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A Ford logo is seen at the New York International Auto Show Press Preview, in Manhattan, New York City, U.S., March 27, 2024. REUTERS/David Dee Delgado/File Photo

By Kylie Madry

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) -Ford shipped its first batch of cars on Tuesday from the once-neglected Guaymas port near its plant in the northern Mexican state of Sonora in a project that, if fully launched, could cut the U.S. automaker's logistics costs, according to the state governor, by 30%.

The initial shipment of pickups and Broncos, headed for Chile, is part of a broader revamp of the Guaymas port, an infrastructure project headed by Mexico's outgoing President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.

Ford (NYSE:F) has long been trucking its autos nearly 2,000 kilometers (1,242 miles) over land from Hermosillo to the port of Lazaro Cardenas, in the state of Michoacan, Sonora Governor Alfonso Durazo said in an interview.

Durazo described the long haul as a "logistical tragedy" that could easily be fixed by moving shipping to the Guaymas port.

Ford executives participated in an event with state government officials on Tuesday. Ricardo Anaya, director of manufacturing at Ford Mexico, said in a statement that "this is the first time we can utilize the port following the investment in (its) modernization and expansion."

Durazo said construction was underway on a parking platform at the port to allow the shipments to go out on a larger scale.

"This also means that cars could come in, they could enter the Sonoran market and even the American market through the Guaymas port," Durazo said.

Work to deepen the port's waters is ongoing to enable Guaymas to receive heavier ships with larger cargo loads, Durazo said.

Before Lopez Obrador's term is over in October, "we hope to go one step further and receive or dispatch a container ship to the Asian market," the governor said.

Mexican states are looking to benefit from the so-called "nearshoring" trend, as firms opt to move operations typically located in Asia closer to their final destination in North America.

The port will also benefit from another Lopez Obrador-led project, Durazo said. Part of the president's so-called "Sonora Plan" has been a 1 gigawatt (GW) solar energy park, which will power the port.

The second stage of the energy park, costing some $840 million, should be inaugurated with the president in the coming weeks, according to the governor.

The federal government's Sonora Plan also hopes to take advantage of the state's lithium resources, thought to be Mexico's largest.

Mexico nationalized its lithium resources in 2022, and officials have said that private firms could exploit the white metal in partnerships alongside state firm LitioMx.

However, Mexico needs regulatory clarification on the issue, Durazo said.

© Reuters. Ford vehicles are shown at the Guaymas port in Sonora, Mexico, in a picture obtained by Reuters on June 18, 2024. Government of Sonora/Handout via REUTERS

"The law needs to be complemented with regulations to know more exactly how private companies could participate," he said.

Last year, miner Ganfeng Lithium said that its local subsidiaries had their concessions canceled, which forced the firm to postpone its target date to kick off mining of the battery metal.

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