Population growth has spurred more auto shipments.
Port Freeport, in the middle of the Texas Gulf Coast, began handling autos in June 2015. Last year, Horizon Terminal Services processed about 45,000 new vehicles for General Motors, and volumes are up about 30 percent through the first three quarters of 2018, said Jason Miura, the port's business development manager.
2017 auto volume: 45,000 (20,000 imported, 25,000 exported; –0.6%)
Used by: GM
Another automaker recently began using the 60-acre facility, but Miura was not at liberty to reveal its identity.
A 100-acre expansion is underway and should be completed by the end of 2019, Miura said.
A new $21 million rail line built by the port connects to the Horizon terminal and is served by Union Pacific railroad.
Automakers used to ship vehicles to the middle of the country via the East and West coasts. Now, they realize ocean transport is more cost effective for reaching the region because of the capacity and fuel efficiency of today's large vessels. The 2015 opening of a wider set of locks in the Panama Canal has enabled much larger ships to pass through, making routes from Asia to the gulf more economical for car carriers.
Texas' population growth also has spurred an increase in auto shipments at Freeport, as well as Houston and Galveston.
GM exports full-size SUVs built in Arlington, Texas, to the Middle East through Freeport and imports the Chevy Trax and Buick Encore crossovers there from South Korea.