The full-size Transit cargo van posed a logistics challenge for Ford Motor Co. when production began last summer at the company’s plant in Kansas City. The van has a high roof that allows delivery drivers to stand upright in the vehicle, but that prevented the vehicle from being loaded in traditional, two-story auto railcars.
Ford engineers worked with railroads and rail equipment manufacturers to design a railcar that accommodates all the roof-height variations of the new Transit, according to Ford.
The company says it evaluated using trucks only, but determined it could deliver Transit vehicles more efficiently and for less cost by designing modified railcars and incorporating them into the shipping network.
Ford transports Transit vehicles by truck to its dealers within a 500-mile radius of the Kansas City assembly plant in Claycomo, Mo. Shipments traveling longer than 500 miles are transported by rail.
The modification involved elevating the inner deck to allow as many as seven medium- and high-roof 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.
Ford expects about 50 percent of Transit orders will be medium- and high-roof configurations.
Ford said it began working on the railcar project in 2010 to coincide with the development of the all-new 2015 Transit.
This article was published in the May 2015 issue of American Shipper.