2023 Acura Integra Rollout Hurt by US Freight Rail Mess
One railway’s vehicle shipping embargo is making it especially hard to get a new Integra on the west coast.
The 2023 Acura Integra was one of Acura's most-hyped revivals, but good luck finding one for sale—especially if you live in the southwestern United States. Honda representatives who spoke with The Drive confirmed that ongoing issues with freight rail have been a particular pain point in getting Acura Integras to dealerships, with a BNSF Railway shipping embargo of vehicles bound for California exacerbating the issue further.
Honda is still grappling with major supply chain issues that have left its manufacturing side in a genuinely precarious place, but those shipping problems don't end once Hondas and Acuras are fully built.
"It's not just the chip supply issues, it's the supply chains, it's the logistics of moving products," said EVP of Business and Sales for American Honda Motor Company Dave Gardner. "I mean, one of the things that's frustrating is we just launched our new Integra. We can't get the product to the west coast dealers because of the fact there's an embargo with railheads out here, because they're so clogged up."
To wit: A quick search for new Integras shows only 16 for sale within 100 miles of Los Angeles as of the time of this writing, but 120 in a 100-mile radius of New York City.
Freight rail has been a nightmare throughout 2022, marked by staff shortages and back-ups at ports and other facilities. Data from the United States Surface Transportation Board cited by Wired shows that railroads have cut their workforce by 29%—some 45,000 workers—in the past six years, with pandemic furloughs exacerbating the situation further. Before the pandemic, 85% of trains arrived within 24 hours of their scheduled arrival time. By late May 2022, this number was down to 67%.
In response to these personnel shortages, BNSF Railways enacted an embargo on shipping automobiles by rail to California, Trains reports, as its California and Southwest Divisions were hit the hardest by staffing issues. That embargo is set to be lifted on Sept. 4.
American Honda Motor Company Senior Manager of Public Relations Jessica Fini clarified to The Drive that Gardner was referring to this embargo as a significant factor in the ongoing shortage of new Integras on dealership lots and that the company's rail woes have only gotten worse since the vehicle's launch.
"We are experiencing delays with increased transit times and railcar shortages across the entire North American Rail Network," Fini said in an email to The Drive. "The rail transit delays did not impact the initial launch of the Integra in June, but as the model was rolled out we did experience rail delays for the Integra as well as all Honda and Acura models, particularly going to west coast dealers in July and August."
Meanwhile, Fini says that Honda is doing what it can to find other ways to get Integras into dealerships: "We are perusing other shipping methods by utilizing different railhead locations and adding in more trucks," Fini said. "Through these alternatives, while also working with our carrier partners, and we are trying our best to keep up shipping with production."
So, if you haven't seen too many Integras out on the road yet, it's certainly not for lack of Honda trying. If you're waiting to get one yourself, here's hoping the lifting of that rail embargo helps—and that nothing else gets in the way. As Wired notes, a labor dispute between roughly 115,000 rail employees and their employers has the potential to jam up supply chains further. The workers' contract expired in 2019, and if they don't reach some kind of agreement by Sept. 15, rail workers could go on strike.
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