Full capacity utilisation, full success: New round-trip concept for Stellantis


Full capacity utilisation, full success: New round-trip concept for Stellantis

Robust shuttle system meets the automotive group's innovative spirit.

It's the holy grail of rail logistics providers everywhere: freight trains running loaded on every journey. The reality is often quite different, as trains usually transport goods to one destination and then travel empty to the next pick-up address. Not so with the transport recently launched by Stellantis and DB Cargo Logistics – a great partnership with a recipe for success.

It just works: Efficient round-trip concept between Rüsselsheim and Zeebrugge

A flawless round trip between Rüsselsheim in Germany and Zeebrugge, Belgium, for Stellantis is a prime example of efficient logistics. A freight train carrying some 170 finished vehicles for the international market leaves the plant in Rüsselsheim and transports them to Zeebrugge. The train is unloaded there, and the cars, from Stellantis's well-known brands such as Opel, Peugeot and Fiat, are prepared at the port for export by ship. 

The train is then directly reloaded with vehicles for the German market and makes its way back to Rüsselsheim, where the cars are stored temporarily until last-mile transport, often to dealerships. Now the train is ready for Stellantis to load more export vehicles, and a new round trip begins. It sounds simple on paper, but it's a dream come true for the rail logistics company and ensures high satisfaction for the car manufacturer, too. This seamless concept has been running smoothly and efficiently once a week since September 2023.

Resilient and robust: Shuttle with fixed resources

Several things all need to come together for this transport concept to be successful. DB Cargo Logistics has drawn up the timetable such that even unexpected disruption does not throw the round trips off track. This also allows for last-minute repairs to wagons if necessary. In addition, the car carrier wagons are used exclusively for this round-trip service and are therefore permanently available.

"We offer Stellantis an efficient and particularly robust shuttle system thanks to a timetable buffer and the use of a dedicated fleet of wagons."

Pierre Timmermans, Member of the Management Board for Sales at DB Cargo 

An innovative approach: Pioneering Stellantis builds its own parking compounds

The success of the partnership is also down to Stellantis itself, which is playing a pioneering role. The scarcity of parking areas away from car plants, also known as compounds, where cars can be parked temporarily after manufacture, is common bottleneck in the transport of finished vehicles. When compounds are at full capacity, a backlog arises that poses major challenges for everyone involved.

Stellantis has found a pragmatic yet far-reaching solution here by turning part of the Rüsselsheim plant into its own compound, which can temporarily store imported vehicles as well as vehicles for export. The compound ends Stellantis's reliance on third-party providers and overcrowded car terminals and perfectly complements the round-trip concept between Rüsselsheim and Zeebrugge. It's a solution that required intensive planning and innovative spirit.

"Rail transport is an important part of our logistics concept. It is perfectly complemented by the new compound strategy in combination with the round-trip concept. That's how good and sustainable logistics works."

Florian Huettl, Opel CEO and member of the Stellantis management team 

Round trip between Eisenach and Cuxhaven offers potential

Stellantis has already trialled this new strategy at its own factory in Zaragoza, Spain. It also plans to use it for transports between Rüsselsheim and its plants in France, as well for another recently launched round trip in Germany between Eisenach and Cuxhaven. This is another resilient shuttle system, with a train of around 220 finished vehicles travelling to the seaport for export every week. There is just one difference – the return journey to the Stellantis plant in Eisenach is still an empty run without reloading in Cuxhaven. Stellantis is therefore already working on ways to convert parts of its Eisenach plant into a compound, making itself even less reliant on other parking service providers. If this is successful, nothing stands in the way of another perfect round trip by rail, with Stellantis's own car terminal providing the key to its success. It's all thanks to good, forward-looking cooperation and the new, innovative approach at Stellantis.

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Porträt Andreas Weiss

Andreas Weiss

Head of Customer Solutions CenterDB Cargo Logistics