Rail Delays Pushing OEMs Toward Alternative Modes of Transport 

Rail Delays forcing OEMs to Consider Alternate Modes of Transport

 Continued disruption in the global supply chain brings new challenges to an already-strained automotive industry. OEMs have endured intermittent plant closures due to safety concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic and shortages of critical parts, most notably semiconductor chips. All of this has resulted in lagging new vehicle production, causing rippling effects to the supply chain and its supporting partners.

With slowing new vehicle production, OEMs cut back their chip orders and the semiconductor industry shifted production to meet demand for other applications. Similarly, lagging new vehicle production forced OEMs to significantly reduce their use of rail for vehicle transport. Echoing moves by the semiconductor industry, the railroad industry prioritized agriculture and housing shipping to keep their business going. Now, OEMs are facing new competition for placements with railcar transports, oftentimes paying premium prices just to keep this inventory moving. 

All these challenges have been further compounded by railroad labor shortages, a widespread lack of railcars and unusually high fuel costs. 

These railroad delays and disruptions are creating headaches for OEMs looking to transport inventory as quickly and cost-effectively as possible, with many turning to other modes of transport. Although the vehicle-logistics space is facing similar challenges, the nature of hauling vehicles allows for more flexibility, speed to market and customization than rail – an ideal option for OEMs in dire need of speed. 

Railway Disruptions Adding Fuel to the Supply-Chain Fire
Freight rail, a critical piece of the automotive supply chain, moves nearly 75% of finished new vehicles in North America. For OEMs, this mode of transport is accessible and cost-effective, and it provides the ability to move inventory en masse. But while OEMs have historically been one of the largest customers of rail, recent lagging in new-vehicle production has forced many of these companies to fill their freight by pivoting toward customers from industries like agriculture and housing versus car manufacturing. This shift in railroad prioritization has stretched well into 2022, disrupting normal transport methods for OEMs and forcing them to compete with other industries for valuable railcar placements. In many cases, OEMs are even paying premium prices for the same rail-transport service. 

In addition to this change in freight prioritization, rail companies are facing a number of other challenges that are causing further delays and complications for OEMs, including weather, labor and railcar shortages. Recently, winter weather in certain parts of the US has forced temporary stoppages along key railroad routes. At the same time, labor disruptions and contract disputes have caused temporary shutdowns along many railway lines, including the Canadian Pacific Railway (CP) that covers much of Canada and the Pacific Northwest. On top of these challenges, a global chassis shortage has meant railroad companies simply do not have enough railcars ready to move. 

Because of all these disruptions, OEMs are seeking alternative modes of transport. Many OEMs are choosing to tap automotive-logistics partners who can quickly scale on demand, opening the door for better speed and operational flexibility. 

Seeking an Alternative Transport Option 
Speed to market is essential for OEMs facing the current critically constrained supply chain. To keep their inventory moving, circumvent obstacles and scale up or down quickly, OEMs can partner with a non-asset-based provider to handle many of their vehicle-shipping needs. A 3PL can provide flexible, on-demand access to capacity, agility and speed they need to keep their operations moving during this unpredictable time.  

While rail will certainly be a part of OEMs’ overall inventory-shipping strategy, car manufacturers must have alternative-transport options to be less susceptible to ongoing challenges that cause delays and disruptions. 

It’s especially important that OEMs start making these plans now, ahead of the coming vehicle-inventory wave when the automotive supply chain will likely become even more constrained, and rail shipping even further disrupted. OEMs that choose to invest now in a vehicle-logistics program that makes sense for their unique business model, granting them more speed and efficiency in the short-term, will be in a much better place to navigate strains that arise after the surge in the long-term. 

ACERTUS as a Vehicle-Logistics Partner 
As the only full-scale, tech-enabled automotive logistics platform that’s designed to move, store, recondition and title and register finished vehicles, ACERTUS is a proven, complete and start-to-finish service. ACERTUS is driven by a transformative combination of technology, people and experience that turns logistics into a competitive advantage for automotive industry players, especially OEMs.  

In an industry overwhelmed by small, single-service and siloed providers, ACERTUS stands apart for being able to offer full-service integration ensuring vehicles ship securely and on time, to and from anywhere. Whether an OEM needs to move 1 vehicle or 1,000, ACERTUS can meet their needs, scaling up or down on demand.  

ACERTUS also gives OEMs access to its proprietary technology platform, VINlocity, which delivers speed, efficiency and visibility into every aspect of the journey with a carrier fleet that provides flexible capacity. From quotes and orders to status updates, VINlocity relieves many of the hurdles that inhibit efficient transportation. Beyond this, VINlocity Carrier, ACERTUS’ electronic proof of delivery (ePOD) application, optimizes the supply chain by providing real-time critical data, empowering shippers to make informed business decisions. 

During this time of unique industry challenges, OEMs can leverage the benefits of ACERTUS’ experience, infrastructure and technology to gain wide-reaching capacity and on-demand scalability – ensuring they have the speed to market they need to be successful and weather the current industry storms. 


Learn more about ACERTUS’ full range of vehicle-transport and logistics services at ACERTUSdelivers.com. To connect with one of our team members or receive a quote, contact us hereor call us at 855-ACERTUS (855-223-7887). 

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