Sunday, October 24, 2004

Mercedes-Benz USA LLC plans to sign a 10-year lease today for more space at the Port of Baltimore.

The German automaker will use its larger waterfront spot in Dundalk to accommodate an increase in the number of cars it ships here.

Mercedes-Benz imports about 90,000 cars and trucks a year into Dundalk. After the company completes its new auto-processing facility, Mercedes will import about 160,000 vehicles annually, port officials are expected to say at a signing ceremony with Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr, a Republican.

Mercedes, which began shipping to the Port of Baltimore in 1965, is the largest vehicle importer there.

Mercedes is expected to build a multimillion-dollar processing facility at its new location at the port. The company currently loads vehicles onto trucks after they arrive in the port and hauls them to a processing facility in Belcamp, in Harford County, before sending them to auto dealers in Mid-Atlantic, Northeastern and Midwestern states.

Baltimore processes about 550,000 automobiles a year that arrive through its port.

During the 10-year lease, Mercedes gradually will take over a 100-acre lot in Dundalk formerly leased by Toyota Motor Sales USA, which no longer imports vehicles through the port.

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