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Stellantis production hampered by lingering bridge blockade between U.S. and Canada – Automotive News

by Oct 30, 2022Blog0 comments

Trucks wait on Interstate 75 for the re-opening of Ambassador Bridge in Detroit on Tuesday. Hundreds of trucks and truck drivers attempting to cross Ambassador Bridge are stuck on the U.S. side after the bridge was closed by Canadian protesters over vaccine mandates in Canada.
An ongoing blockade at one of North America’s busiest land border crossings is starting to hit Canadian vehicle production.
Stellantis confirmed that its Windsor Assembly Plant “had to short shift its first shift due to parts shortages” on Tuesday. The plant was running on Wednesday morning.
“We continue to work closely with our carriers to get parts into the plant and, at this time, expect that afternoon shift will start as scheduled,” the automaker said in a statement to Automotive News Canada.
Meanwhile, Unifor Local 200 President John D’Agnolo said Ford Canada idled its engine assembly operations in Windsor on Wednesday, but that “we will be running [Thursday].”
Ford Canada officials weren’t available for comment.
Representatives across Canada’s automotive industry and the Windsor Police Service are calling on protestors to end their blockade.
Protestors, demanding anything from the end of vaccine mandates to the ousting of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, brought traffic onto and off the Ambassador Bridge to a standstill Monday evening in Windsor, Ont.
Wednesday morning, the Windsor Police Service and Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) both said the bridge remains closed.
“We encourage the organizers of the demonstration to maintain an open communication with Windsor Police personnel, using reasoned and tempered approach to come to a peaceful resolution,” The Windsor Police Service tweeted at about 7 a.m. ET.
The CBSA, meanwhile, updated its border wait times website to note the crossing “temporarily closed.”
Pockets of protestors have parked mainly pickups at multiple intersections of Huron Church Road, the six-lane thoroughfare leading to the critical piece of infrastructure that connects Windsor and Detroit.
The CBSA on Tuesday afternoon declared the port of entry closed until further notice.
On Tuesday, the Michigan Department of Transportation said the Ambassador Bridge remained closed on the U.S. side. It advised those headed to Canada to use the Port Huron, Mich., crossing, which connects that American city with Sarnia, Ont.
Overall, more than 25 percent of goods traded between Canadian and the U.S. moves across the privately-owned Ambassador Bridge.
At the micro-level, 7,000 trucks are estimated to cross the Windsor-Detroit corridor every day, says the Windsor–Detroit Bridge Authority, the Canadian federal Crown corporation responsible for administering the construction of the new Gordie Howe International Bridge between Windsor and Detroit.
The bridge authority says about 2.5 million trucks cross the bridge each year. The authority says those truckloads of goods, which include auto parts and new vehicles, represent more than $100 billion in bilateral trade every year.
“Basically if there’s a shutdown of transportation routes, the auto industry comes to a screeching halt in about two days,” Robert Wildeboer, executive chairman of Martinrea International Inc., said Tuesday on BNN Bloomberg Television.
The slowdowns are a problem for Martinrea, which is based in the Vaughan, Ontario, but has locations in the U.S. and around the world. “We have 38 trucks cross at the Detroit border per day and 16 in Sarnia,” Wildeboer said.
He called on Trudeau to back down on new rules that require truckers to be vaccinated against Covid-19 to enter the country. The vaccine mandate is one of the causes of the protests that have paralyzed downtown Ottawa for more than 10 days.
The Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers’ Association, which lobbies on behalf of the Detroit 3 automakers in Canada, is calling for an immediate end to the protests.
“Blockades at Canada’s borders are threatening fragile supply chains already under pressure due to pandemic related shortages and backlogs,” CVMA CEO Brian Kingston said in a statement. “We are calling on cooperation from all levels of government to resolve this situation and bring an immediate end to these blockades.”
Kingston called the crossing “a key conduit for motor vehicles and parts, Canada’s second largest export.”
“Auto production relies on efficient supply chain logistics for delivery of parts, components and vehicles,” he said. “Persistent delays at the Ambassador Bridge risk disrupting automotive production that employs tens of thousands of Canadians.”
As of Tuesday, the blockade had not impacted production for General Motors.
“We are aware of the situation and working closely with our logistics providers to mitigate any production disruptions,” spokesman Daniel Flores on Tuesday told Crain’s Detroit Business, a sibling publication of Automotive News Canada.
Flavio Volpe, head of the Automotive Parts Manufacturers’ Association, said in an interview that Canada’s auto industry could withstand a two-day closure of the bridge before it affected supply and shipments.
In a post on Twitter, he called it “a brain-dead move” by protestors
“Blocking the Ambassador Bridge could create a daily shortage of about C$300M ($236 million USD) goods and raise prices on both sides of the border,” he warned.
Blocking the Ambassador Bridge could CREATE a daily SHORTAGE of about $300M goods & RAISE prices on both sides of the 🇨🇦🇺🇸border.

Brain dead move.

Thank you to 🇨🇦 WORKERS for your PATIENCE & understanding if you get temporarily laid off while we wait for PROTESTERS to grow up.
Volpe also thanked the truckers who aren’t part of the blockade in Windsor or the occupation of Ottawa.
“Thank You to the thousands of working truckers who woke up at 3 a.m. to haul $50 million in auto parts to car factories today,” he said in a separate tweet.
The protests across Canada began as truckers demanding an end to a federal vaccine mandate that required them to be inoculated to return to Canada after a trip to the U.S., which has a similar reciprocal vaccine rule.
“Should I block the Ambassador Bridge?” will now be first question on IQ tests for political protests in Canada.
The Teamsters union, which represents about 55,000 truckers, denounced the protests in a statement, saying 90 percent of their members are vaccinated.
“The so-called ‘freedom convoy’ and the despicable display of hate lead by the political Right and shamefully encouraged by elected conservative politicians does not reflect the values of Teamsters Canada, nor the vast majority of our members, and in fact has served to delegitimize the real concerns of most truck drivers today,” the union said. “We firmly believe in the right to protest government policies and voice a wide array of opinions, but what is happening in Ottawa has done more harm to Teamsters members.
“Teamsters Canada would welcome collaboration with government and employers to address today’s real challenges in the trucking industry to keep the supply chain going and Canada’s economy growing.”
The chairman of the Detroit International Bridge Co., which owns the Ambassador Bridge, on Tuesday called on officials to “take prompt action” to resolve the situation quickly.
“International commerce needs to resume,” Matt Moroun said in a statement, noting that the company and his family sympathize with truck drivers and others caught up in the blockade.
“We recognize that truck drivers are essential workers that work hard to deliver necessities to all of us, and that the Canadian government has done a tremendous job with vaccine rates.”
Ontario Premier Doug Ford stopped short of calling for an end to the protests.
“The Ambassador Bridge is a vital trade artery between Canada and the U.S. Many essential workers, including frontline health-care workers, rely on it to get to work. Police are on the scene to ensure traffic is moving safely,” he said in a tweet of his own.
The White House on Wednesday said it’s watching the border situation “very closely.”
“The Ambassador Bridge is Canada’s busiest link to the United States and accounts for about 25 percent of trade between the two countries,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said in briefing with reporters. “So the blockade poses a risk to supply chains for the auto industry because the bridge is a key conduit for motor vehicles, components and parts, and delays risk disrupting auto production.”
Psaki said the White House is engaged with auto companies, Customs and Border Protection and Canadian counterparts as well as Michigan Gov. Whitmer and industry stakeholders.
Customs and Border Protection has “opened all nine commercial lanes, including a fast lane at the port to process diverted traffic, and they’re working closely with relevant automakers and other public and private sector stakeholders to discuss alternative processing,” she said. “We’re working to ensure there’s movement.”
Only passenger vehicles can access the bridge through an entrance off a more residential street. And commercial trucks are also banned from using the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel which connects the downtown cores of each city.
Bloomberg contributed to this report.
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