Toyota Motor Corp. opened its new $700 million Tacoma pickup assembly factory in central Mexico last month, aiming to use a combination of rail and short-sea shipping to export the pickups into the U.S.
“Rail traffic will come through Laredo, but the majority of shipments into the U.S. will be by short sea, leaving from Veracruz [Gulf Coast] and Lázaro Cárdenas [Pacific],” Toyota spokesman Victor Vanov said.
The new Tacoma plant is in Apaseo el Grande, Guanajuato, Mexico, nearly 600 miles from the U.S.-Mexico border crossing at Laredo, Texas.
Toyota plans to employ 1,000 workers at the plant in central Mexico. It will manufacture 100,000 Tacoma pickups annually. The company has been building Tacoma trucks at its Tijuana, Baja California, plant in Mexico since 2004.
“Most Mexico-assembled Tacomas are destined for the U.S. market to fulfill strong customer demand,” Vanov said.
Troy Ryley, president of Redwood Mexico at Redwood Logistics, said rail in Mexico is predominantly used for automotive shipping.
“All the car manufacturers usually have some type of intermodal component for shipping because with automotive vehicles, automotive parts, we are talking about heavyweights, longest distances, and intermodal make sense,” Ryley said.
Vanov said even though the Guanajuato plant opened in mid-December, “production ramp-up will take some time.”
“Tacoma annual capacity is 266,000 vehicles for both the Baja California plant and the Guanajuato plant,” Vanov said. “Our San Antonio plant will continue to assemble Tacomas until late 2021” and will add Sequoia production starting in 2022.
Short-sea shipping essentially involves moving cargo and passengers mainly by sea along a coast, without crossing an ocean.
Veracruz, on the Gulf of Mexico, is the main seaport on Mexico’s east coast, around 600 miles from the U.S.-Mexico border. Short-sea services could connect it to Texas and Florida ports in the Gulf.
The Port of Lázaro Cárdenas in central Mexico is one of the largest Mexican seaports and its largest along the Pacific Ocean. It is 1,711 miles from the U.S.-Mexico border in San Diego.