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Toyota, GM, Ford cut production due to Canada truck protests

Blocked Ambassador Bridge accounts for 25% of U.S.-Canadian trad.

Trucks block traffic in Winnipeg as Canadian truckers protest COVID-19 vaccine mandates.   © Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- Toyota Motor, General Motors, Ford Motor and Chrysler-parent Stellantis said Thursday they had been forced to cancel or scale back some production because of parts shortages stemming from Canadian trucker protests against pandemic mandates.

The truckers, who oppose a vaccinate-or-quarantine requirement for cross-border drivers, have used their big rigs to snarl traffic at the Ambassador Bridge linking Detroit and Windsor, Ontario -- which accounts for about 25 percent of U.S.-Canadian trade.

A Toyota spokesman told Reuters the automaker was suspending production through Saturday at plants on both sides of the border, in Ontario and Kentucky. The largest Japanese automaker said it was "experiencing multiple dropped logistics routes" and it is "not isolated to only one or two parts at this point."

The shortages affected Toyota's production of the RAV4 -- the best-selling vehicle in the United States that is not a truck -- Camry, Avalon, Lexus RX and Lexus ES, the automaker said.

Ford said it was running its plants in Windsor and Oakville, another Canadian city, at reduced capacity. It added that it hopes the situation is resolved quickly "because it could have widespread impact on all automakers in the U.S. and Canada."

Stellantis said all of its North American plants were running as of Thursday morning, "but a number of U.S. and Canadian plants cut short second shifts Wednesday night due to parts shortages caused by the closure of the Detroit/Windsor bridge."

GM said was forced to halt production Thursday at a plant in Michigan where it builds sport utility vehicles after the protests.

The largest U.S. automaker said it had canceled a shift on Wednesday and two shifts Thursday at its Lansing Delta Township plant.

GM's vice president for global purchasing and supply chain, Shilpan Amin, told suppliers on Thursday in a message seen by Reuters that "although we may have intermittent stoppages, we intend to keep production running and meet current schedules at all of our manufacturing operations in the U.S., Canada and Mexico."

The company added it was "encouraging suppliers to evaluate alternative options in order to sustain your operations to meet our production schedules."

Stellantis said 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. We hope a resolution can be reached soon so our plants and our employees can return to normal operations."

The White House said Wednesday it was talking to automakers, Canada and customs officials to try avoid disruptions to auto production.

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer on Thursday called on Canada to reopen the Ambassador Bridge, as did U.S. Representatives Debbie Dingell and Dan Kildee.

"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."

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