Market Trends: High-Roof Vans Caused OTD Delays in 2015

As part of their annual Order-to-Delivery survey, Automotive Fleet took a closer look at how railroad backlogs can affect overall production. Although the rail industry has been working for many years to increase its rail-car fleet, there continues to be an ongoing shortage, primarily because the addition of new rail assets has not kept pace with the corresponding increase in automotive sales.

The availability of specialty railcars needed to ship medium and high roof Transit vans were in especially high demand in 2015. ARI’s Director of Supply Chain Management Partha Ghosh noted “Over the course of the model-year, manufacturers were challenged by logistical issues when moving vehicles from the factory lot to the end destination, and this caused delays. Also, the increasing trend toward vans (especially the high-roof configurations) has led to an increased demand for [specialty] rail cars, which are less efficient as measured by the number of vehicles that can be transported per rail car. The OEMs responded by expanding the ways in which they moved the vehicles, adding trucking in addition to rail, expanding truck-away programs, requesting more bi- and tri-level railcars, and prioritizing fleet/sold units over retail units,” said Ghosh.

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