THE Port of Townsville has recorded its highest motor vehicle import figures in the last quarter – almost 6000 vehicles arrived through the port between October and December 2020.

Figures for October fell just six cars shy of the port’s biggest month on record with 2245 cars being discharged that month.

Port of Townsville manager trade development, Maria James, said the hike in Townsville vehicle imports last quarter was in line with national car sale trends.

“We experienced some downturn in early 2020 due to manufacturing backlogs in Japan, which contributed to larger import numbers towards the second half of the year as the industry began to recover,” Ms James said.

“Industry experts indicate COVID-19 overseas and interstate travel restrictions have seen more North Queenslanders purchase all-wheel-drive vehicles, like SUVs and utes, to explore their own backyard,” Ms James said.

“It is very promising to see such strong consumer demand in the north for vehicles,” she said.

Townsville’s vehicle imports bucked a national downward trend in new car sales in the 2020 calendar year.

While the Australian car market recorded its lowest year since 2003, imports at the Port of Townsville rose 8% in 2020 despite the slowdown in the first half of the year.

“In addition to growth in motor vehicle imports, the port has also recorded an increase in trucks and heavy machinery arriving from overseas – a sign shipowners are setting out to diversify cargo on roll-on roll-off vessels,” Ms James said.

“The port has recently completed a $2.5m extension to its roll-on roll-off wharf, allowing us to facilitate larger car carrying vessels.

“Ultimately, it’s good news for every motorist in the north. As we bring in larger vessels, we can welcome larger car import numbers, creating savings for car dealerships and new car buyers right across the region,” Ms James said.