Interesting presser from Honda this week:
HONDA LAUNCHES AUTO-MAX RAILCAR FLEET: MORE ENVIRONMENTALLY – RESPONSIBLE PRODUCT DISTRIBUTION WITH INDUSTRY-FIRST FLEET
TORRANCE, CA, June 19, 2008 — Honda has fully deployed its fleet of Auto-MaxÂ® railcars, achieving a significant reduction in the fuel consumption and CO2 emissions associated with its automobile distribution activities in the United States. The 400-car fleet of more space-efficient Auto-Max; railcars is the only such automaker-operated fleet in use in the United States. Including the Auto-Max fleet shipments, American Honda currently transports about 82 percent of its Honda and Acura automobiles across the country by rail, achieving the highest rail-shipping rate of any automaker.
Each multi-level Auto-Max railcar holds up to 22 vehicles and can hold both trucks and cars to reduce unused space. The result is less fuel usage per vehicle shipped and no compromise to quality. An average bi-level railcar can transport only 10 trucks, generally of a single vehicle type. Honda’s Auto-Max railcars have a 50-year estimated lifespan versus standard railcars, which typically require a major overhaul after just 20 years of service. Honda participated with the Greenbrier Companies (NYSE:GBX) in designing Auto-Max, which is exclusively manufactured by Greenbrier.
"Honda is adopting a holistic approach to minimizing its greenhousegas emissions, addressing not only the production and on road use of our products, but also new, more fuel-efficient strategies for how we transport our products to dealers," said Dennis Manns, assistant vice president, Sales & Logistics Planning for American Honda Motor Co., Inc. "Rail is the most environmentally responsible method available to move our products, and our Auto-Max railcar fleet can make a good system even more fuel efficient."
To further support Honda’s strategy to increase product distribution by rail, Honda this year invested approximately $7 million to redesign the rail infrastructure at its automobile plants in Marysville and East Liberty, Ohio. The redesign added rail capacity, enabling American Honda to ship more units via rail. Further, inbound and outbound trains at the plant can now operate at a faster pace; pull easier on upgraded tracks; and, require less railcar switching in the yard, reducing fuel consumption, CO2, and other air pollutants emissions that are produced while engines are left idling.
According to CSX, which serves Honda’s rail operations in Ohio, the infrastructure improvement contributes an annual savings of 2,436 gallons of fuel and 54,432 pounds of CO2 per year …