Ford Motor Co. and Toyota Motor North America continue to see production disruptions at various plants caused by the protest by truckers at the Ambassador Bridge.
But General Motors and Stellantis were operating plants in normal operation by early Friday afternoon. Although the two were monitoring the situation after experiencing production shutdowns earlier in the week.
The auto industry struggled to get parts across the Canada-US border as the protest by truckers on the bridge entered its fifth day.
The difficulty couldn’t come at a worse time for carmakers and car buyers.
“The blockade comes at a terrible time because the auto industry has already closed factories due to chip shortages. This exacerbates the situation,” said Michelle Krebs, executive analyst at Cox Automotive. “For consumers, this will mean continued shortages in inventory, high prices and long lead times to get a vehicle they may have ordered.”
Continued:As GM Ditches Chevy Spark, Here Are Detroit’s 3 Most Affordable Vehicles
A hearing scheduled to ask the Chief Justice of the Superior Court of Ontario to order an end to the week-long protest on Friday prompted protesters to begin moving trucks to open a single lane on the Ambassador Bridge before midday. However, the bridge remained closed to all traffic.
On Friday night, a judge granted an injunction allowing police to forcibly remove protesters, but the bridge remained blocked.
Drivers oppose a vaccination warrant to enter Canada, among other things. The protest blockade stops all traffic on the bridge and stalls it on Michigan’s other border crossing, the Blue Water Bridge in Port Huron.
The Ambassador Bridge is a major international gateway where about $356 million worth of goods travel between Detroit and Windsor every day, according to Politico.
For 2021, Edmunds estimates that 7.3% of U.S. vehicle sales were from Canadian-built vehicles. It is also a key link for the automotive industry to ship parts to factories.
Continued:Automakers scramble to sidestep truckers’ protest at Ambassador Bridge as factories cancel shifts
Fords and Toyotas
Ford continued to be hit hard by protest activity against the bridge earlier Friday.
The automaker said its Ohio assembly plant was down due to a shortage of parts related to the bridge blockade. The Ohio Assembly Plant builds Super Duty Chassis cabs, medium-duty trucks and E-Series vans.
Ford’s Oakville, Ont., plant and its Windsor engine plant continue to operate at “reduced capacity” due to the bridge blockade for a second straight day, said Kelli Felker, global head of manufacturing and services. labor communications at Ford, to the Detroit Free Press. Friday.
Ford manufactures its Ford Edge and Lincoln Nautilus SUVs at the Oakville plant. It makes two engines at its Windsor plant: one goes in the F-150 pickup and the Mustang muscle car. The other goes in the Super Duty pickup and the Econoline pickup truck, Felker said.
All of Ford’s North American plants will operate the week of Feb. 14, except for production at the Ohio Assembly Plant and Kansas City Assembly Transit, Felker said.
She said some factories will operate fewer shifts while building vehicles. They include Kentucky Truck and Chicago Assembly, both of which will operate with two shifts, and Dearborn Truck, which will operate with one shift. Each of these factories normally has three shifts.
“This Detroit-Windsor Bridge disruption is hurting customers, autoworkers, suppliers, communities and businesses on both sides of the border who have already been experiencing two-year parts shortages resulting from the global semi- drivers, COVID and more,” Felker said. “We hope this situation will be resolved quickly as it could have a widespread impact on all automakers in the United States and Canada.”
At Toyota Motor North America, four plants were affected by the protest, Toyota spokesperson Kelly Stefanich said.
“Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada, Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky, Toyota Motor Manufacturing Alabama, and Toyota Motor Manufacturing West Virginia have recently been impacted by issues related to the Ambassador Bridge blockade,” Stefanich said, without providing specific details about the disruption. production in these factories. .
But Stefanich said the company expects more disruption throughout the weekend and will “continue to make necessary adjustments. While the situation is fluid and changing frequently, we do not anticipate any impact on employment at the moment”.
Toyota has faced a number of supply chain, weather and COVID-19 issues that have affected production at its North American plants, Stefanich said.
“Our teams are closely monitoring the situation and working diligently to minimize the impact on production,” Stefanich said.
GM and Stellantis
Most of GM’s assembly plants in the United States were in scheduled production Friday, GM spokesman Dan Flores said.
On Friday night, Flores declined to comment on the injunction, saying, “Our goal remains to work with our suppliers to mitigate any issues they are having. Obviously, the situation remains fluid, the objective is to maintain the flow of parts to our assembly plants to maintain production.”
This includes its Fort Wayne, Indiana assembly, where GM builds its full-size Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pickup trucks. On Thursday, GM flew parts from Canada to Fort Wayne to keep the plant running. The plant was down for a while Thursday night. It resumed regular production on Friday morning.
At GM’s Bowling Green Assembly plant in Kentucky, production of the Corvette continued uninterrupted. A plant manager said the plant had enough parts in stock to get through Monday.
Flores, however, said GM’s CAMI plant in Ingersoll, Ont., where it makes the Chevrolet Equinox SUV, had to cut the first shift short Friday.
At Flint Assembly, where GM builds its heavy-duty versions of the pickups, Friday’s first shift was also cut short, due to lack of parts due to the blockade. Flint returned to regular production during his second and third shifts. GM cut a shift there Thursday due to a lack of parts.
A Flint employee told the Free Press on Friday, “One manager said we were going to be running all day. Another said we might run out of parts.” The worker asked not to be named because he is not authorized to speak to the media.
At GM’s Arlington Assembly Plant in Texas, where it manufactures its big-profit full-size SUVs, all three shifts were operating on Friday after the plant experienced several bouts of production disruptions last week due to parts shortages and weather-related issues, a factory said. worker and verified by a communication between factory managers and workers obtained by the Free Press.
Stellantis North America’s factories all started Friday morning, but “it remains an incredibly fluid situation,” spokeswoman Jodi Tinson said. “We continue to work closely with our carriers to get parts to factories to mitigate further disruptions.”
On Thursday, Stellantis had to halt the first shift early at the Windsor Assembly Plant, where it builds the Chrysler Pacifica minivan, due to parts shortages. The Windsor assembly plant is also one of Stellantis’ factories most affected by the global chip shortage. It has faced significant downtime over the past year as the automaker prioritized production of its most profitable trucks and SUVs.
The Toledo North Assembly Complex also halted its first shift on Thursday. It is in Toledo that the Jeep Wrangler and Gladiator are built.
Free Press writers Phoebe Wall Howard and Eric D. Lawrence contributed to this report.