Automatic production restarts once the Ambassador Bridge is cleared.


The North American auto industry came back to life on Monday after Canadian authorities evacuated protesters and vehicles from a key trade route between the United States and Canada that had been closed for nearly a week.

But some automakers said it would take several days for production to return to normal as it would take time to deliver needed parts to factories. For some companies, a longer-term shortage of chips still kept factories closed.

“It’s not like you can flip a switch and go back to where we were in terms of production,” said Peter Nagle, senior automotive industry analyst at research firm IHS Markit. “It’s going to take a few weeks.”

The bridge, which connects Detroit to Windsor, Ont., and other border crossings were blocked after truckers and their allies paralyzed parts of Ottawa to protest vaccination mandates and other pandemic restrictions.

Ford Motor said it had seen no impact from border disruptions since Friday, but a factory in Ohio would be closed this week due to chip shortages. General Motors said its factories were operating normally on Monday.

Toyota said it expected border-related disruptions to continue this week, but some improvement was likely in the coming days as the supply chain catches up. The company’s facilities in Ontario, Kentucky, Alabama and West Virginia have recently been hit by border blockades, a company representative said.

Stellantis, which owns Jeep, Ram and other brands, said it halted a number of shifts at US and Canadian factories last week due to parts shortages caused by the blockade. Operations resumed Monday morning as planned and the company aims to make up lost production in the coming months, said Lou Ann Gosselin, a spokesperson for the company.

“We are working with our carriers to get parts to factories as quickly as possible to mitigate any further disruptions,” she said.

A representative from Unifor, a major Canadian union that represents autoworkers from many manufacturers, said auto production would likely return to normal within days.

But IHS Markit’s Mr Nagle said it would take longer than that, especially as automakers were already grappling with shortages of semiconductors and other components.

Many of the suppliers hardest hit by the bridge blockade were small companies producing specialist components. Until these critical links in the supply chain ramp up production, the industry cannot function normally, Nagle said on Monday.

Paul Ashworth, chief economist for North America at Capital Economics, said some Ford factories had cut production this month due to chip shortages, “but the bigger picture seems to be that the situation is s ‘improved”.

Congestion at west coast ports that handle chip imports has eased. And production at car factories has rebounded in recent months, although it remains a little below normal. The latest sales figures show new vehicle sales rebounded around 20% in January, Mr Ashworth said.

On Sunday evening, Windsor police said they arrested several people and towed trucks parked at an intersection leading to the Ambassador Bridge. The bridge reopened just before midnight.


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