Shipping the Mercedes-Benz E350 BlueTec to the U.S.

By Jonathan Spira on 11 October 2011
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The inevitable epilogue of every European Delivery trip is referred to as “drop-off,” the point at which the owner hands over his car to the shipper for ocean transport to the United States.

We dropped off the 2011 Mercedes-Benz E350 BlueTec at the offices of BLG Logistics in Bremerhaven on August 11, 2011 after driving from Arnhem to Bremen and then to Bremerhaven.

BLG is Mercedes-Benz’ shipping agent and takes care of all aspects of shipping the car to the United States, including booking passage and customs brokerage.  In the U.S., customs brokerage is handled by E.H. Harms USA, a subsidiary of BLG. BLG, which was founded in 1877 as the Bremer Lagerhaus-Gesellschaft (Bremen Warehouse Company), is an international logistics organization that, among other things, is responsible for exporting automobiles from Audi, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz among others from Europe to the U.S.

BLG’s AutoTerminal Bremerhaven is the largest auto- and RoRo (roll-on roll-off) terminal in Europe. In 2010 it handled 1.6 million automobiles, counting both import and export.  The AutoTerminal is divided into two areas, Section Nordhafen and Section Kaiserhafen.  Almost all of BLG’s passenger car operations, ranging from storage to its technical center, are in the Section Nordhafen.

BLG’s clients include over 25 major automakers in Europe, ranging from Audi to Jaguar to Porsche to Volvo. The range of services offered (not every automaker uses all of the services) ranges from pre-delivery inspection (PDI) to repairs to accessory installation.  To understand how large the Section Nordhafen is, BLG can store a total of 130,000 automobiles (40,000 in covered storage) at any one time.  Not only new cars are transported.  During my visit to the AutoTerminal, I saw a variety of used cars and trucks making their way to and from different continents as well as a 1950s fire truck, destination unknown to me.

The next day, BLG had already booked the E350 on the Independence II, which was scheduled to depart Bremerhaven on August 21 and arrive in Baltimore, where Mercedes-Benz USA has its Vehicle Preparation Center (VPC), on September 1, a mere 11 days later.

The Independence II is a Ro-Ro (roll-on roll-off) ship.  It is owned by Arc (American Roll-on Roll-off Carrier), which owns a total of nine ships.  Thanks to a charter agreement with Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics (WWL), a related company, Arc transports automobiles as well as high and heavy (i.e. oversized) equipment and its fleet regularly calls on ports in New York, Baltimore, Charleston, and Brunswick. (Our BMW 335d traveled on WWL’s MV Manon in late 2009 and WWL transports over 1.2 million vehicles by sea each year.)

Click here to continue to Page 2 –  The Voyage to Baltimore and A Virtual Tour of the Bremerhaven AutoTerminal

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