Ford, GM Scale Back Production Due to Canadian ‘Freedom Convoy’ Protests

by Matthew Memrick

Ford, Toyota, General Motors, and Chrysler scaled back production after the prolonged nature of Canada’s “Freedom Convoy” protests.

The pandemic slowed down production with computer chip shortages, and some are even having to cancel orders.

A big reason for scaling back is the Ambassador Bridge linking Detroit with Windsor, Ontario. That bridge accounts for close to 25 percent of the U.S.-Canadian trade. “Freedom Convoy” truckers oppose Canada’s vaccine or quarantine policy for cross-border drivers. The group has let its country know its displeasure in protests throughout the provinces.

American groups in Alaska and other states have protested the issue as well.

Reuters reported on the production issues

To put it another way, Michigan State professor Jason Miller told WLNS that bridge crossing affects about $250 million a day in imports and exports between auto companies.

Toyota Hit Hard By Freedom Convoy

The Japanese carmaker told Reuters it had plans to suspend production at both plants on both sides of the border through Saturday. It had plans in Kentucky and Ontario.

Furthermore, the largest Japanese automaker was “experiencing multiple dropped logistics routes,” and it is “not isolated to only one or two parts at this point.”

Even so, the decision impacts its RAV4 car, which Reuters identifies as the best-selling non-truck vehicle in the United States. The protests hurt other Toyota cars like the Camry, Avalon, Lexus RX, and Lexus ES.

Other Car Companies Running Slower

Similarly, Ford’s Windsor and Oakville plants in Canada were going slower because of the protest tactics.

The Michigan-based company urged for a fast resolution “because it could have widespread impact on all automakers in the U.S. and Canada.”

Stellantis, who owns the Chrysler brand, had to reduce shifts in its U.S. and Canada plants on Wednesday. Basically, the company cited a “parts shortage” because of the bridge closure. 

Equally important, General Motors stopped work at a Michigan SUV plant on Thursday. America’s largest automaker canceled a shift on Wednesday and two shifts Thursday at its Lansing Delta Township plant. The plant makes Buick Enclaves and Chevy Traverse vehicles.

Comparatively, GM officials admit they may have “intermittent stoppages” during the protests. On the positive side, they “intend to keep production running and meet current schedules.” The company also “encourages” suppliers to consider “alternative options” to “meet production schedules.”

Honda reported that one production line on Wednesday suffered a temporary shutdown. After a short time, the operation came back online to make Honda CRVs and Civics. 

Michigan Officials Want Bridge Reopened, Freedom Convoy Stopped

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer wants Canada to reopen the bridge. U.S. Representatives Debbie Dingell and Dan Kildee back the request.

“It is imperative that Canadian local, provincial, and national governments de-escalate this economic blockade,” Whitmer said. “They must take all necessary and appropriate steps to immediately and safely reopen traffic.” 

In view of the shutdown, the White House said Wednesday it was working with automakers, Canada, and customs officials to keep things going despite the auto production disruptions