The Greenbrier Companies, Inc. [NYSE:GBX] introduces Multi-Max(TM), an automotive railcar that significantly advances the options for transporting autos by rail. Multi-Max features a patented adjustable deck to allow railroads to shift between bi- and tri-level service using techniques that were previously unavailable. Multi-Max is the latest in Greenbrier's long line of innovations for automotive railcars.
Standard automotive railcars do not have adjustable decks that can be reconfigured between tri-level and bi-level service. Multi-Max allows for complete deck adjustments in as little as five hours, without removing the deck during reconfiguration. Because it is fully compatible with the bi-level and tri-level fleet currently on the rails, operators do not need to segregate Multi-Max or manage it separately from other railcars. With Greenbrier's proprietary sealed end-door, Multi-Max limits theft and vandalism, offering superior cargo security for unmatched vehicle safety and protection over long-distance hauls. Multi-Max also keeps new automobiles looking new with enhanced door edges that provide smooth cargo loading, reducing the risk of damage in transit.
"Greenbrier designed Multi-Max to help railroads meet the changing requirements of today's automobile manufacturers," said William G. Glenn, senior vice president and chief commercial officer. "Consumer preferences for automobiles are less predictable, causing automakers to build factories that can quickly transform from manufacturing large vehicles like SUVs and light trucks to smaller vehicles like sedans and subcompacts. With its proprietary adjustable decks, Multi-Max means railroads no longer need to place a bet on whether they will need bi-level rail service to transport large vehicles or tri-level service for smaller vehicles. Multi-Max means railroads always have the right mix of equipment ready to move automobiles."
Multi-Max was developed with input from Class I railroads and automotive manufacturers. Multi-Max joins four other automotive railcar designs offered by Greenbrier in North America and Europe. It is the most extensive line of automotive railcars in the industry and includes Auto-Max(®), a high-efficiency, articulated, and fully-integrated 2-unit railcar with bi-level or tri-level configurations. Auto-Max( )utilizes Greenbrier's innovative double stack technology which offers superior ride quality.
In its current fiscal year, Greenbrier has previously reported worldwide orders for 2,100 automotive-related railcars or racks. Tomorrow, Greenbrier will formally debut Multi-Max before a gathering of railroad and automotive industry leaders at its Cleburne, Texas facility.
"Greenbrier took the lead with several railroads to capture ideas, design those concepts and now build a railcar that meets our needs today and tomorrow," said Paddy O'Neill, senior director equipment planning at Norfolk Southern Corporation. "The convertibility features of Multi-Max enable railroads to more cost effectively serve their customers. This truly innovative design demonstrates Greenbrier's ability to make its customers' desires a reality and places Greenbrier at the vanguard of rail innovation."
In the U.S., sales of light vehicles increased by 13% in 2012 from 2011. For the first time in five years, sales are forecast to exceed 15 million light vehicles in 2013, with continued sales growth forecast through 2016. Railroads carry approximately 70% of all new vehicles manufactured in North America. Over the next three years, independent industry forecasts project that deliveries of automotive railcars will exceed 10,000 units in North America.
"Toyota's ongoing efforts to localize production in North America require flexible production capacity at our seven automotive assembly plants," said Mike Nelson, national rail strategy and operations manager of Toyota Logistics Services, Inc. "Multi-Max's new design enhancements are adjustable and support quality vehicle delivery in the quickest, most efficient way possible. Our 12 North American built vehicles require a rail delivery product that can match our ability to quickly respond to fluctuating market demands."
Mexico recently surpassed Japan as the largest exporter of light vehicles to the United States and is forecast to increase its share of North American light vehicle production substantially over the next decade. This locational shift will further support growth in automotive rail loadings, with rail as the preferred transportation method of light vehicles manufactured in Mexico. Greenbrier's automotive railcar products, including Multi-Max, are also manufactured in Mexico. Greenbrier is well-positioned at its low-cost and flexible facilities to capitalize on the geographic change in automotive manufacturing.
Greenbrier (www.gbrx.com), headquartered in Lake Oswego, Oregon, is a leading supplier of transportation equipment and services to the railroad industry. Greenbrier builds new railroad freight cars in its four manufacturing facilities in the U.S. and Mexico and marine barges at its U.S. facility. It also repairs and refurbishes freight cars and provides wheels and railcar parts at 38 locations across North America. Greenbrier builds new railroad freight cars and refurbishes freight cars for the European market through both its operations in Poland and various subcontractor facilities throughout Europe. Greenbrier owns approximately 9,200 railcars, and performs management services for approximately 225,000 railcars.