Auto Processing at the Port: VROOM VROOM…Start your engines!

By Lenis Rodrigues and Joe Iorio, Media Relations Staff

You’ve just signed the papers, gotten the keys and you’re leaving the auto showroom in that shiny new car and the last thought on your mind is . . . How did this car get to the dealership anyway?

Well lucky for you, two Port Authority staffers traveled to The Port of New York and New Jersey for an insider’s look at how FAPS Inc., one of the three auto processors at the Port, works to get you behind the wheel of a new car.

In addition to FAPS, the Port has two other automobile processors: Toyota Motor Logistics Center and BMW Port Jersey Vehicle Preparation Center.

In 2014, Port Authority and non-Port Authority processors handled more than 600,000 new and used automobiles that shipped to and from locations around the country and around the world: places like Italy, Sweden, Japan, China, Germany and the Caribbean.

The vehicle processing facilities are located at the Port Jersey-Port Authority Marine Terminal in Jersey City and at the Port Newark/Elizabeth Marine Terminal complex. Each terminal provides immediate access to major interstate highways and a number of rail services that expedite the shipping process.  Most vehicles imported to port facilities travel on a roll-on/ roll-off vessel.  As the term implies, vehicles are driven on and off the ship.

Before we get into the specifics, here’s a glimpse at the wide variety of car makes processed at the Port: Honda, Volvo, Ford, General Motors, Rolls-Royce, Alfa Romeo, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Maserati, Chevrolet, Nissan, Infiniti, Toyota, Lexus, Scion, SAAB, Mitsubishi, BMW and Mini Cooper.

During our tour, we learned that when a car is driven off the vessel, it’s sent initially to the Pre-Delivery Inspection Center to examine various components for interior and exterior damages.  If the vehicle’s structure received damage during the shipping process, depending upon the severity, the car goes to either the Quick Repair Center or the Heavy Damage Repair Center.   If the vehicle sustains serious structural damage, the owner is notified, and a new car will be processed for them.

After leaving the Pre-Delivery Inspection Center, the vehicle travels next to the Programming Center where technicians activate the advanced software used in today’s cars.  For example, most modern automobiles have GPS, a surround-sound system and a touch-screen display – all of which need to be tested and activated before the car ships to the dealership.

After vehicles meet all quality assurance standards, mechanics place the proper manuals, service guides and driver instructions inside the vehicles before they are loaded into car-carriers and delivered to local dealerships.  The process is complete in less than three days.

For more than 50 years, The Port of New York and New Jersey has served as a flagship location for automobile processing.   So, the next time you’re shopping for a new or used car, you might take a moment to reflect on the journey the vehicle takes from the assembly line to the dealer’s lot before it even hits the road.  The process is pretty smooth, or as they say in the car business – aerodynamic.

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