Oregon's auto import business crashes

| Print |  Email
Articles - April 2010
Thursday, March 25, 2010
importillo
importnumbers
ILLUSTRATION BY MARTIN GEE

Oregon’s once-booming auto import business, already limping along at half speed after two years of recession, has crashed into another speed bump with the Toyota recall debacle.

The Port of Portland is the largest auto importer on the West Coast, but volume has plummeted from 463,557 vehicles in 2006 to 240,683 in 2009.

According to port studies, each car that is brought into the U.S. through Portland generates a regional economic impact of $318. By that measure, the economic benefits of auto imports to the region have fallen by an annual $70.8 million from their recent peak. And that was before Toyota got caught up in controversy and saw sales slip to 10-year lows amid safety problems and massive recalls.

Toyota is one of three major auto importers using Portland as a gateway into the U.S. market, along with Honda and Hyundai, and it is a key tenant at the port’s sprawling 280-acre Terminal Four complex near the St. Johns Bridge in North Portland. The union longshoremen and Teamsters who unload auto vessels there rely on a steady flow of cars for their income, as do the employees of Toyota Logistics Services, who add accessories such as navigation, music and security systems to the vehicles before shipping them to market via rail or truck. The port is somewhat sheltered from the drop-off because it receives guaranteed minimum payments regardless of volume.

Port spokesman Josh Thomas says it’s too early to identify a drop in Toyota imports specifically related to the recalls and the associated bad press. “We wouldn’t want to speculate on that,” he says, adding that Toyota has been a “model tenant” that earned LEED gold certification for green building practices and invested in riverbank restoration to improve salmon habitat.

The general manager for Toyota Logistics Services did not respond to requests for comment. Neither did the head of the local chapter of the International Longshore Workers Union. But with sales slipping and safety concerns spreading, it would be hard to make the case that Toyota’s troubles won’t cost Oregon both business and jobs. 

BEN JACKLET
 

More Articles

Finding a Balance

Contributed Blogs
Thursday, January 29, 2015
012915-passinvst-thumbBY JASON NORRIS | OB GUEST BLOGGER

Active vs. passive investing: what you need to know.


Read more...

Ski traffic

News
Tuesday, January 20, 2015
0121-skiway-thumbBY LINDA BAKER | OB EDITOR

A place-based multimodal transportation plan for Mt. Hood is long overdue.


Read more...

Imperial Palate

February 2015
Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Power Lunch at the Imperial.


Read more...

Will Medford Ever Be Cool?

February 2015
Friday, January 23, 2015
BY DAN COOK | PHOTOS BY JASON E. KAPLAN

A real-estate developer and a Lithia Motors executive aim to revamp the city's forlorn downtown.


Read more...

The short list: Holiday habits of six Oregon CEOs

The Latest
Thursday, December 11, 2014
121214-xmaslist1BY JACOB PALMER | OB DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

We ask business and nonprofit leaders how they survive the season.


Read more...

Crowdfunding 2.0

News
Tuesday, December 02, 2014
120214-crowdfund-thumbBY LINDA BAKER

A conversation with attorney Erich Merrill about the latest way to raise money from large groups of people.


Read more...

Convention Wisdom

February 2015
Monday, January 26, 2015
BY KIM MOORE

After more than a decade of wrangling, construction on a convention center hotel in Portland is slated to start this summer. But debate over project financing continues.


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS