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Car companies report production disruptions as Canada trucker protest convoy pressures already fragile supply chain

Trucker protest cuts off critical trade routes
Trucker protest in Canada cuts off critical trade routes 02:59

Five car companies have halted production at some facilities, citing supply chain problems in part affected by the Canadian trucker protest convoy. The convoy, which is protesting COVID-19 restrictions, is blocking the Ambassador Bridge between Windsor, Ontario and Detroit, Michigan.

Ford, GM, Toyota, Honda and Stellantis — the parent company of Chrysler — all canceled shifts or reduced capacity at plants. Some disruptions were expected to continue into the weekend. 

"This interruption on the Detroit/Windsor bridge hurts customers, auto workers, suppliers, communities and companies on both sides of the border that are already two years into parts shortages resulting from the global semiconductor issue, COVID and more," said a Thursday statement from Ford, which confirmed it was running two plants at reduced capacity again Friday, which also saw the company's Ohio Assembly Plant down. The company had shut production at its Windsor engine plant Wednesday.  "We hope this situation is resolved quickly because it could have widespread impact on all automakers in the U.S. and Canada."

Stellantis cut short shifts at plants in Canada since Tuesday and second shifts Wednesday in the U.S. "The situation at the Ambassador Bridge, combined with an already fragile supply chain, will bring further hardship to people and industries still struggling to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic," read a statement from the company.

Toyota reported disruptions starting Wednesday at several of its North American plants, including Canada and Kentucky and spreading Friday to plants in West Virginia and Alabama. The company said it expected disruptions to continue through the weekend.

"Due to a number of supply chain, severe weather and COVID related challenges, Toyota continues to face shortages affecting production at our North American plants," the company said in a statement Friday, pointing to the Ambassador Bridge blockade.

Honda also blamed border delays for the temporary suspension of manufacturing on a production line in its Alliston, Ontario plant Wednesday and again Friday. The company said all U.S. production lines were expected to run Friday. 

The industry is the nation's largest manufacturing sector, with 10 million jobs and responsible for about 5.5% of GDP, said John Bozzella, president and CEO of Auto Innovators, an industry alliance. "We will continue to work with policymakers and stakeholders in the U.S. and Canada to advocate for a swift and safe resolution on behalf of our employees, consumers and communities."

The protests against COVID-19 related mandates and restrictions has stopped traffic on the bridge — which carries 25% of all trade between Canada and the U.S. — from entering Canada, said Canada Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security warned Thursday that a similar protest by truckers could disrupt the Super Bowl, set for Sunday, February 13, in Los Angeles, and the State of the Union address in Washington, D.C. on March 1. 

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