The Mexican port of Lázaro Cardenas on the Pacific coast has received the first rail shipment of new Honda HR-V vehicles, which are being made at the carmaker’s plant in Celaya. The compact SUVs are for export to the US and will form a regular monthly volume through the port of around 500 vehicles, according to the port authority of Lázaro Cardenas.

Terminal operator Amports is handling the management of the vehicles at the port.

The Celaya plant, which opened in 2013, was designed exclusively for the production of subcompact vehicles according to Honda. It has capacity for 200,000 vehicles and currently builds the Fit model (known as the Jazz in other markets) and the HR-V, which shares the same platform as the Fit.

The new volumes of the HR-V will benefit from the short sea service from Lázaro Cardenas, provided by Mitsui OSK Lines (MOL), which forms part of a multichannel export flow out of Celaya to the US. As well as the east coast port of Veracruz, this includes cross border rail shipments through Mexico to the US Midwest using both Ferromex and Kansas City Southern Mexico (KCSM) for rail to the border. From Lázaro, a regular service will bring the HR-Vs and Fit models, as well as models from Europe, to Honda’s three west coast ports in San Diego and Richmond, California, and Portland, Oregon.

From the east coast, volumes of the Fit produced at Celaya move from the port of Veracruz where they are delivered to the ports of Brunswick, Georgia; Baltimore, Maryland; and Davisville, Rhode Island for distribution in the US (read more here).

The Celaya plant relies heavily on rail transport, shipping vehicles to ports as well as directly to the US for export. It is also the site of an intermodal rail hub.

A new transmission plant at Celaya is expected to start operations later this year.

Honda has an existing plant in Mexico at n El Salto, Jalisco, which makes the CR-V model, along with three motorcycle types.