Thousands of brand new trucks and cars fresh off the assembly line are sitting in parking lots here in Mid-Michigan and across the U.S. The cause of the backlog? Some say the harsh winter weather delayed pick-ups and deliveries, but others disagree.
U.S. Sen. Carl Levin, D-MI, points the finger at rail companies. In an interview with TV-5, Levin said rail service delays have left dealerships without certain vehicles to sell and companies paying millions in storage fees.
How did things get so bad? Some rail companies blame the bitter cold and record snow this winter. But, Levin doesn't buy it.
"The problem with that, is that even though it was a snowy, cold winter, this backlog was growing way before the snows flew," said Levin.
The senator thinks they just weren't prepared for the recovery of the auto industry. Which, he says, might be even stronger if vehicles left sitting were where they could be sold.
"They failed to respond to the increased production by the automobile manufacturers," Levin said.
Now, Levin and the co-chair of the Senate Auto Caucus are urging the Surface Transportation Board to put pressure on rail companies to get things back on track.
"They can ask them for continual reports. Then, they will be the official entity that will report to Congress as to this problem. Then Congress, if necessary, will have to see if there's anything we can do to speed this up," said Levin.
In a statement, Tom Wickam, spokesman for General Motors, said while they still have trucks sitting in Flint, GM has been decreasing the number of vehicles in storage. He stated they are not sure when things will be back to normal.
Copyright 2014 WNEM TV 5 (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.
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