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The Georgia Ports Authority (GPA) expects to double its Toyota export business at the Port of Savannah now that Highlander sport utility vehicles (SUVs) bound for Australia and New Zealand are moving through the port's Ocean Terminal. Eighteen months ago, Toyota began exporting Venza crossover vehicles via the Port of Brunswick to Eastern Europe. "When researching a location for exports to Oceania, Toyota's experience in Brunswick made a GPA facility an appealing option," said Corinne Akahoshi, Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A. Inc.'s national manager of marine logistics operations, in a press release. "The challenge was in bringing together the service profile — vessel schedules, processing, survey requirements and direct rail service."Collaboration among the GPA, WWL Vehicle Services Americas, Norfolk Southern Railway and Toyota made the concept a reality within an "incredibly abbreviated timeframe," she said. The Japanese automaker expects to move thousands of Highlander SUVs from its Princeton, Ind., plant to the GPA terminal in Savannah annually. The vehicles will arrive in Savannah via NS, then will be staged at Ocean Terminal prior to export. Toyota plans to build an on-terminal car wash to service their vehicles by early 2015."Combined, our terminals moved more than 700,000 cars, trucks and tractors last fiscal year, and we're on track to beat that record in FY2015," said GPA Executive Director Curtis Foltz.The authority also announced that in July and August — the first two months of FY2015 — the Savannah and Brunswick ports logged 595,711 20-foot equivalent units (TEUs), up 12.9 percent compared with the same period in FY2014.The ports set consecutive TEU records in both months at 293,889 TEUs in July and 301,822 TEUs in August. Containers moved by rail also reached a record level in August at 52,711 TEUs. "To accommodate growth at these levels, we are taking the necessary steps to expand capacity now," said Foltz. "Infrastructure improvements, which include additional cranes, operational improvements and container storage consolidation, will increase annual throughput capacity from 4.5 million to 6.5 million TEUs."
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