Railroads’ involvement in the automotive industry dates back to the early 1900s and Henry Ford’s innovative Highland Park assembly plant.
As demand for new automobiles grew, railroads designed a railcar specifically for the movement of automobiles. This innovation greatly increased the number of autos carried per railcar from two to ten or more. Today, a single train can move 750 vehicles at once.
Railroads are involved in many stages of auto manufacturing. They move the raw iron ore and coke needed to make steel, deliver semi-finished products to manufacturing plant where they are used to produce auto parts and move the final vehicles.
In 2017, U.S. Class I railroads moved 1.8 million carloads of motor vehicles and parts.