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Loading vehicles in the port of Koper.

The Slovenian Port of Koper is a crucial hub for the transportation of vehicles in Europe, with its car terminal handling over 800,000 vehicles a year.

Major European vehicle manufacturers use the terminal for exporting and importing their vehicles.

The terminal also plays a crucial role in the export of vehicles from Slovenia, with a significant portion of the country’s car exports passing through the terminal.

Operated by the Luka Koper company, the terminal is situated in the city of Koper, Slovenia and is the only car terminal in the country.

The car terminal at the Port of Koper has a total area of 900,000 square meters and is equipped with state-of-the-art technology to ensure efficient and safe handling of vehicles. Its storage capacity is 44,000 units, 10,000 of which can be stored under cover.

One of the key advantages of the Port of Koper car terminal is its location at the crossroads of major European transport corridors, which makes it a natural gateway for the transportation of vehicles to and from Central and Eastern Europe, the Mediterranean, Middle East and Far East.

The port is also well connected to the rest of Europe by road and rail.

In addition to its location and state-of-the-art technology, the Port of Koper car terminal is known for its high level of service and reliability.

The terminal’s experienced and professional staff ensure that vehicles are handled safely and efficiently, and that deadlines are met.

The terminal also has a strong commitment to environmental protection, with measures in place to minimize the environmental impact of its operations.

Automotive Industries (AI) asked Gregor Belič, Director of the Car Terminal of the Port of Koper, what role the port fills in the European automotive industry.

Belič: Since 2015, with the acquisition of new export flows of some European car makers, we have been registering a stable growth. The exception is the Covid year 2020.

Gregor Belič, Director of the Car Terminal of the Port of Koper

Today we are among top five car terminals in Europe and the prime automotive hub in the region, handling over 40 brands.

According to available data, we registered the highest growth among European car terminals in 2022.

AI: How does the location of the Port of Koper car terminal benefit the transportation of vehicles in Europe?

Belič Our geographic location has always been one of our strongest points.

The sea route for cargo coming from the Mediterranean or beyond Suez is ideal for serving Central and Eastern European countries, with carriers saving time and costs, and there is also the environmental factor.

We have two main shipping services coming to Koper: daily short sea connections with Mediterranean, and weekly services with the Far East and Middle East.

We have been working on acquiring new cargo flows to and from the East Coast of the United States, and we expect some new export volumes on our hinterland markets to grow in the following years.

AI: What technology and equipment is used in the Port of Koper car terminal?

Belič In the past few years there has been an emphasis on process optimization and digitalization, with the aim of facilitating operations through the integration of various data systems.

With in in-house developed ACAR system, we can rapidly exchange data within the whole logistic chain.

This is done through standardized communication with partners and allows live responses detailed inquires from business partners on different levels.

AI: What is the level of service and reliability offered at the Port of Koper car terminal?

Belič The year 2022 was again marked by various disruptions and volatility of car production, which impacted on the logistics chain.

This required an additional effort not only from our side, but from all involved in the business – forwarders, ocean and railway carriers, trucking companies, survey providers, etc.

As a terminal operator our biggest competitive advantage is our flexibility, especially in these times of uncertainty.

Vehicles in transit in the port of Koper.

It means a lot to our customers that we can provide some ad-hoc services within very short time notice.

AI: What environmental protection measures in place at the Port of Koper car terminal?

Belič On one hand the new investments in berths and parking areas significantly shortened the transport routes inside the port, which has a positive environmental effect on time and energy consumption.

There is continuous investment in technology.

We are in the process of introducing modern lighting systems for storage areas, which bring energy efficiency and enable smarter light management.

We are renewing the internal fleet with EV vehicles to be more sustainable.

I should also stress that Luka Koper is compliant to the highest standards of sustainable development under the EU’s ECO Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS).

AI: What are the future plans and developments for the Port of Koper car terminal?

Belič We had some very intensive years of infrastructure investments, from new Ro-Ro berth, garage, additional railway access, truck gates, etc.

In the second half of 2023 we plan to open a new storage area with a capacity of 3,500 units and to relocate our automotive-dedicated internal truck terminal closer to the exit port gate.

According to the national spatial plan we still have space to expand on the eastern part of the port.

In the next phase, after 2023, space for another 8,000 units will be made available.

We are also planning a second dedicated Ro-Ro berth in the basin 3.

This will allow us to work on three car carriers simultaneously. In total around 70 million euros will be invested in the car terminal over the short term.

I would also mention that Slovenia is building a new railway line from Koper to the hinterland of the country.

This new line, which should be completed in 2026, will boost the rail capacity and give us significant opportunities to increase volumes through our terminal.

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