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Europe's Biggest Car Terminal Turns into Parking Lot

The shipping terminal in the north German port of Bremerhaven is currently clogged with more than 90,000 vehicles waiting to find new owners. This mirrors the dramatic situation in the automobile industry where sales have plummeted to their lowest in the last quarter century.

Less than a year ago, the terminal set a turnover record of two million vehicles for a 12-month period. But the economic crisis has brought business at the terminal to a standstill. Detthold Aden, head of the BLG Logistics Group that administers the facility said they can’t move the cars until they find buyers. The biggest car terminal in Europe is bursting at the seams, instead of setting another turnover record, the place is becoming one of the world’s biggest parking lots.

Ships normally loaded with cars for the U.S. are now leaving almost empty because of the dramatic slump of the U.S. car market. The rapid decline of the U.S. market caught Bremerhaven by surprise. When car makers published details of shrinking sales, many of the cars parked at the terminal were already on their way to Germany.

Aden says, "We anticipate a 25 percent reduction in the number of vehicles transiting Bremerhaven in the first quarter of 2009."

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