Daimler's Mercedes-Benz has set up a new hub for transporting new vehicles from Europe to Asia in the Slovenian port of Koper. It started operating at the end of 2015.

The move is part of a "realignment" of Mercedes-Benz Cars' supply chain management under the 'Mercedes-Benz 2020' growth strategy, the automaker said in a statement.

"The opening of our hub in the port of Koper is the latest milestone in the ongoing development of our global logistics network," said Mercedes Benz Cars' supply chain head Alexander Koesling. "This new Mediterranean hub gives us a southern route with major advantages in terms of flexibility and costs for shipping connections between Europe and Asia

Koper has service providers with a great deal of experience with automobile shipments, and offers outstanding infrastructure. This makes the port the ideal partner for us."

After Bremerhaven (Germany) and Zeebrügge (Belgium), the Slovenian port is the third most important European hub for Mercedes-Benz exports.

Vehicles from various European plants are shipped to China, Singapore and Brunei via Koper. Most of the vehicles come from plants in Sindelfingen, Rastatt and Kecskemét (Hungary), as well as the Smart plants in Hambach (France) and Novo Mesto (Slovenia). Bremerhaven still handles the largest volume of vehicles while Zeebrügge serves destinations such as Australia, South Africa and Mexico using a western route.

The automaker considered numerous Mediterranean ports over the last two years before choosing the location. Koper, which lies south of Trieste on the Adriatic Sea, won because its location significantly reduces transportation distances on land and above all at sea. Depending on the destination, transferring freight via Koper can significantly reduce transit times by up to one week. Depending on destination country, transfers per ship circuit are up to 8,800km shorter than the previous transfer from Bremerhaven, saving around 60,000 tons of CO2 emissions per year.

Koper is one of the largest Mediterranean auto transport ports. Until now it was used as a base to serve Mediterranean connections in Europe, Turkey and North Africa, and to process imports from the Far East. The Mercedes-Benz hub now adds vehicle exports.

Contracting partners are the Luka Koper port, Slovenian logistics service provider Intereuropa, RoRo Carrier MOL (Mitsui OSK Lines), rail service providers Schenker and Altmann, plus numerous forwarding agents.

Mercedes-Benz Cars supply chain management responsibilities include planning and managing the global production program, supplying the plants with production materials (inbound-logistics), the storage and transportation of production materials between the plants (intra-logistics) and the global transportation of new vehicles from the plants to customers around the world (outbound-logistics). The units has almost 7,500 employees.