State-run Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) said the Magam Ruhunupura port in Hambantota had transshipped 79,147 vehicles and also unloaded 36,401 units for the local market up to March 2014. It began RO-RO operations on June 06, 2012.
The vehicles come mainly from Indian factories and are kept in a yard at Hambantota and loaded onto car carriers destined to areas such as East Africa.
Industry analyst say competitive charges and no delays at Hambantota port makes Indian car exports more cost competitive making the port attractive to India based carmakers.
Sri Lanka's Colombo port has also attracted large volumes of Indian transshipment business by making India's exports and imports cheaper and quicker. Sri Lanka is close to the main East-West shipping lane.
SLPA said in 2012, the Hambantota port handled 19,716 tonnes of break bulk cargo and in 2013 it had grown to 118,579. In February 2014, 25,891 tonnes of cargo had been handled up from 7,037 tonnes a year earlier.
The port is being built with Chinese finance and its first stage began construction in 2008.
Canada's SNC Lavolin Canadian International Company had conducted the feasibility study of the port and the basic designs were prepared by Denmark Rambol Company in 2005, SLPA said.
In stage one, a 988 metre breakwater to the West, a 312 metre breakwater to the East, a 600 metre ships terminal, a 105 metre service terminal and 610 metre oil terminal was built.
The port had a basin draught of 17 metres with a 600 metre ships turning circle. It could handle ships up to 100,000 dead weight tonnes. In November 2013, a one billion rupee 14-storey administrative building with 100,000 square feet space was opened.