How Ford, Railroad Industry created innovative way to ship the new Transit van to North American customers


ford transit
Ford Motor Company is taking a new approach to shipping its all-new full-size Transit cargo vans and wagons to Ford dealerships across North America. The high-roof Transit offers best-in-class interior cargo height when properly equipped, but the new medium- and high-roof Transit vehicles are too tall to fit in the common two-story railcars used by auto manufacturers. So Ford engineers worked with railroads and railcar manufacturers to design an innovative railcar that accommodates all the roof-height variations of the new Transit.

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DEARBORN, MI--June 23, 2014: Innovative new railcar for vehicle shipping accommodates the variety of Ford Transit roof heights Optimized mix of rail and truck transport provides the most efficient delivery time and lowest shipping cost, and supports Ford’s Blueprint for Sustainability by using resources responsibly and minimizing environmental impact All-new Ford Transit offers a best-in-class range of vehicle configurations and will be available at U.S. and Canadian dealerships this summer Ford Motor Company is taking a new approach to shipping its all-new full-size Transit cargo vans and wagons to Ford dealerships across North America.

The high-roof Transit measures 110.1 inches tall and offers best-in-class interior cargo height when properly equipped, enabling customers as tall as 6 feet 4 inches looking to stand upright in their vehicles, but it also challenged Ford engineers to develop an innovative vehicle shipping solution.

Ford ships vehicles from its assembly plants to dealerships using a mix of railcars and trucks. The new medium- and high-roof Transit vehicles are too tall to fit in the common two-story railcars used by auto manufacturers, so Ford engineers worked with railroads and railcar manufacturers to design an innovative railcar that accommodates all the roof-height variations of the new Transit.

“Use of these modified railcars helps us to efficiently ship these large vehicles from our assembly plant, deliver them to our dealers and get them into the hands of our customers faster and more cost effectively,” said Chris Lemmink, Ford vehicle logistics manager.

The innovation allows Ford to ship Transit vehicles through the right mix of rail and truck transport to help reduce delivery time and cost. The company evaluated using trucks only, but determined that it could deliver Transit vehicles more efficiently and for less cost by designing modified railcars and incorporating them into the shipping network.

The optimized balance of rail and truck transport also supports Ford’s Blueprint for Sustainability by using resources responsibly and minimizing environmental impact.

Ford plans to transport Transit vehicles by truck to its dealers within a 500-mile radius of the Kansas City Assembly Plant in Claycomo, Missouri, where Transit is produced. Shipments traveling longer than 500 miles will be transported by rail.

Ford worked with leading rail companies to modify Transit railcars by elevating its inner deck, enabling as many as seven medium- and high-roof Transit vehicles to be loaded on the lower deck and as many as seven smaller vehicles, like the Ford Fusion, on the shorter top deck, depending on the vehicle’s length. The overall height of the railcar remains the same as traditional railcars, so as not to interfere with overpasses and tunnels.

Ford Designs Innovative Railcar to Ship All-New Transit Van Ford expects approximately 50 percent of Transit orders will be medium- and high-roof configurations.

Ford began working on the railcar project in 2010, coinciding with development of the all-new 2015 Transit.

All-new Ford Transit In the United States, Transit eventually will replace America’s best-selling van for 35 years, E-Series, which was first sold in 1961 as Ford Econoline. E-Series vans and wagons still will be available and sold side by side with Transit into this calendar year, providing a seamless transition for Ford customers. Additionally, E-Series cutaway and stripped chassis will continue to be built and sold through most of the rest of the decade.

Transit was introduced in Europe in 1965, and has been the best-selling commercial van in the United Kingdom for 49 years. The vehicle is sold in 118 markets on six continents.

The high-roof Transit – with best-in-class 81.5 inches of maximum interior cargo height – provides enough headroom for a person 6 feet 4 inches tall to stand upright in the cargo area.

Transit van offers as much as 487 cubic feet of cargo volume and 4,650 pounds of maximum payload capacity – more than competing vans from General Motors and Chrysler. Transit delivers a maximum towing capacity of 7,500 pounds.

In some configurations, Transit offers as much as 75 percent more cargo volume than the largest E-Series, helping customers save fuel costs and time associated with having to make a second trip. Maximum payload increases more than 600 pounds across the lineup versus comparable E-Series vans.

Transit will be available in van, wagon, chassis cab and cutaway body styles; in three body lengths and two wheelbases for van and wagon, along with three roof heights; with a standard 3.7-liter V6, available 3.5-liter EcoBoost® and available 3.2-liter Power Stroke® diesel engine; and in XL and XLT trim levels, offering more choices than ever from a Ford commercial van.

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