Fearful of another Hurricane Katrina, Toyota Motor Corp.'s independent Gulf region vehicle distributor will build a second import center 150 miles inland from its current port in Houston.
The new Temple, Texas, port center will be a backup processing center in the event of a Gulf catastrophe, says Gary Cole, director of transformation integration at Gulf States Toyota Inc.
The $50 million project also was triggered by Gulf States' need for more vehicle processing capacity.
The company's Houston center was built to handle about 150,000 vehicles a year. But Toyota volumes are surging in the five-state territory, which consists of Arkansas, Louis-iana, Mississippi, Oklahoma and Tex-as.
This year, Houston will process 250,000 Toyota, Lexus and Scion vehicles, Cole says.
He says that in addition to building a second center, Gulf States will expand the Houston port to a capacity of 325,000 vehicles a year.
Combined with the Temple center's planned capacity, Gulf States will be able to process 475,000 vehicles annually.
Construction on the Temple center will begin in 2009, and operations will launch in 2011.