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Fiat parks first cars at Port of Baltimore

The first 2,500 Fiat 500L cars were unloaded at the Port of Baltimore on Friday, a total that will increase to 30,000 over the next year as part of an exclusive agreement with the Italian automaker.

Fiat at Port of Baltimore

Some of the first 2,500 Fiats to drive into the Port of Baltimore. (Photo courtesy of Bill McAllen)

The cars, shipped from Fiat’s assembly plant in Serbia, are expected to create 80 jobs at the port, plus another 140 indirect jobs down the supply chain, the Maryland Port Administration said. The cars are not being shipped to another East Coast port.

“The addition of new Fiat vehicles at the Port of Baltimore demonstrates the strength of Maryland’s economy and is another clear example that Maryland’s port continues to thrive and bring new business and jobs to our state,” Gov. Martin O’Malley said in a statement.

The port led the nation in handling automobiles last year, moving 652,000 vehicles across its docks. The Port Administration said that pace has continued through the first four months of 2013. The auto business accounts for more than 1,000 jobs at the port.

Almost 37 million tons of cargo went through the Port last year, 11th in the nation. The value of that cargo was calculated at $54 billion, ninth-most in the nation.

Baltimore is the top port among 360 in the United States for moving cars and light trucks, farm and construction machinery, imported forest products, imported sugar, imported aluminum and imported gypsum. The port is second for export coal and imported iron ore.