Since the earliest Model T rolled off the assembly line, railroads have played a crucial role in America’s auto industry.

Today, the size and scope of the U.S. auto industry would surpass Henry Ford’s wildest dreams, thanks in large part to freight railroads who spend millions of dollars annually to efficiently connect North American automakers with their suppliers and customers like you.

Part of the Solution

Long before a finished car hits the road, it begins as 30,000 individual parts. Those, in turn, start as raw materials — plastics, metals and sheets of glass — that are turned into dashboards, bolts and GPS screens. And, freight rail is there to deliver it all. Railroads move both raw materials to manufacturers and auto parts to vehicle assembly plants, and finished vehicles across North America.

Today, railroads transport the biggest and heaviest auto parts — car frames, engines, transmissions and axles — and do so without breaking a sweat. They also carry imported car parts — big and small — from ports like Charleston, South Carolina to inland assembly plants, where brands like BMW are building cars and providing jobs to U.S. workers.

Designed for the 21st Century

But the efficiency and scale of railroad operations and their benefit to North American automakers didn’t happen overnight. Over the last three decades, railroads have spent billions of dollars to meet the rapidly changing needs of America’s auto industry.

As auto manufacturers opened new plants in states like Georgia, Kentucky and California, railroads laid new track in and out of plants and built specialized rail yards to enhance productivity. Design modifications to rail equipment used to move automobiles has allowed automakers to ship more cars at once, new routes have reduced shipping times, and special handling protocols at rail yards have made the journey smoother than ever before.

Whether it is a shipment of sheet metal or the newest electric car, freight railroads allow the entire auto industry to operate efficiently, swiftly and affordably. That means that you get that new car smell sooner — and your wallet can breathe easy too.