Chrysler Vans Sitting Idle As Oil Boom Robs Rail Capacity

Derek Kreindler
by Derek Kreindler
chrysler vans sitting idle as oil boom robs rail capacity

Several hundred Chrysler minivans are stuck indefinitely on a piece of prime Detroit real estate, unable to be transported across America. The reason? The fossil fuel boom in Canada and the United States is hogging much of the available rail capacity needed to transport the vans.

Citing a report by the Associated Press, the Windsor Star reports that railway capacity – which is normally transport new vehicles – is being eaten up by deliveries of oil from both the Alberta Oil Sands and the Bakken shale formation in the United States. According to the AP, just 9,500 railway carloads of crude were being transported in 2008, but that number exploded to 434,032 in 2013. In addition, ethanol shipments have exploded nearly fivefold since 2005, with up to 325,000 carloads being shipped last year.

One of the biggest players in energy shipments is CP Rail, a Canadian railway company that is also the major player in the Windsor, Ontario region, where Chrysler’s minivan plant is located. Aside from capacity issues, a CP spokesman told the Star that the extreme weather has created supply chain issues that still linger at CP’s Chicago hub.

A Chrysler spokesman told the Star

“We have experienced delays of delivery of our finished vehicles due to rail car shortages…We are using alternative modes of transport and alternative routes where possible to move around the biggest problem areas.”

Inventories of the two vans have fallen sharply in the last month. As of April 1st, Chrysler had 50 days worth of Town & Country vans, and 37 days worth of Caravans, down from 75 days and 50 days respectively on March 1st.

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  • Big Al from Oz Big Al from Oz on Apr 25, 2014

    Are there big sales in the US on these Chrysler people movers? Are the sales slipping for these vans? Because if demand was high enough, then they would be delivered. Supply and demand.

  • Frantz Frantz on Apr 25, 2014

    "prime Detroit real estate" hahahahahahaha

    • Bball40dtw Bball40dtw on Apr 25, 2014

      Detroit: one of the few places in the world where waterfront real estate is usually far from prime.

  • BuzzDog BuzzDog on Apr 25, 2014

    This explains something that I noticed in the last month or so. We've been requesting these from my company's purchasing department as we replace two or three of the company cars in my department (Tauruses) this year. Haven't noticed a difference in the bids, but noticed our dealer/vendor had difficulties finding one in our preferred fleet spec and color when we requested one six weeks ago. There was one in the four Dodge stores owned by this dealer, and it took three tries: The first one sold before we accepted the bid, the second lacked rear air and was not much less, and the one we finally received came from another, unrelated dealership over 100 miles away. We just requested another one a week ago, and our purchasing guy told me that there's a shortage of these in the region, at least in the configuration we prefer.

  • Don1967 Don1967 on Apr 26, 2014

    "Oil Boom Robs Railway Capacity" Well if that ain't a perfect epilogue to those hysterical, CAPS-ON "Peak Oil" rants from 2008. Next up: Scientists Unanimously Call for Urgent Action on Global Cooling.

    • See 10 previous
    • U mad scientist U mad scientist on Apr 29, 2014

      @u mad scientist > u mad scientist, there’s no such thing as “settled science”, ...The mass of AGW studies with all their assumptions, all the computer modeling runs with a limited suite of other assumptions,.. simplistic computer models and expert pronouncements Those assumptions are physical thermodynamics, and the more complex ones are assuredly not simple (though generally unnecessary since higher order adjustment don't seem to change much). The problem isn't in the physical theory as the empirical measurement. I've posted about it before (this was pasted in my notes in case the post got eaten or whatever): The best analogy is turning up the thermostat _very_ slowly in your home. There's always going to be hysteresis, but the temp is eventually going to go up because how a furnace works. You might get into an arg with others in the house about it's still not warm enough in a room (uneven distrib) or how the heat's coming up slow, but globally speaking it's undeniably going to warm up based on the physics of more heating of air in the furnace and blowing it around. The measurement problem if we step back is that there can be no "global" temp meter due to the nature of thermodynamics thus you have a bunch of probes scattered around the house (or in this case the one probe where the dial is). The temp swings during the day, people might open room doors and the air moves around, so it's just hard to tell without studying a lot of house and weather nuances, but there's little doubt it's going up in the long run.