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Arrival of '95 Cars to Drive Up Activity at Port of Hueneme

October 04, 1994|Jack Searles

The unveiling of the new 1995 model year autos means activity is about to heat up at Ventura County's fast-growing deep-water harbor, the Port of Hueneme.

Over the next several months, thousands of Volvos, BMWs, Jaguars, Mazdas, Mitsubishis and Land Rovers will be passing through the small facility in Port Hueneme.

The cars will be driven to nearby processing centers, where they'll be inspected and equipped with radios and other accessories. Then they'll be delivered to dealerships throughout the Western United States.

"The new models have already started to arrive," reported Kam Quarles, special assistant to port Executive Director Anthony Taormina. "We expect more and more of them between now and the end of the year." The imports will probably continue at peak levels through February, Quarles adds.

In the past year, Japan's Mitsubishi joined the overseas manufacturers using Hueneme. Volvo, Jaguar and Land Rover began using the facility two years ago. All four are processed by Pacific Vehicle Processors Inc., an Oxnard firm that's owned by Stockholm-based Wallenius Lines.

Quarles said foreign auto makers have chosen the Ventura County port over its larger counterparts in Los Angeles and Long Beach for several reasons. "We now have three processing centers within a mile or so of our harbor. And there's land available here for companies that want to set up new centers."

In addition, he noted, Ventura County's lighter highway traffic makes it easier for auto-hauling trucks to get in and out of the area.

In fiscal 1994, which ended June 30, about 110,000 foreign cars were imported through the Port of Hueneme, 6% more than in fiscal 1993. Despite the recession, fiscal '93 volume was up 2% over fiscal '92. Port authorities expect further improvement this year. Autos, in fact, have joined citrus exports and banana imports as the key products passing through the port.

On the downside, the importing of Australian beef, once considered a bright prospect for the port, didn't materialize. Most of that shipping has gone to the East Coast, Quarles said.

Still, the Port of Hueneme handled 634,000 tons of shipping in fiscal 1994, up nearly 50% from the previous year's 424,000 tons.

Several years ago, the port's operator, the Oxnard Harbor District, estimated that the facility was responsible for 2,000 jobs and $200 million in business in Ventura County. A new report shows considerable increases in both categories, Quarles said.

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