Ambassador Bridge closure threatens automotive industry on both sides of the border

The Ambassador Bridge is one of the busiest international thoroughfares in the world and a lot of that traffic is in auto parts. We're talking millions of dollars in parts every day.

From headrests to engines, they are all carried across the international border. Just not this week.

Thursday is day four of the Ambassador Bridge closure due to Canadian vaccine mandate protests. U.S. Customs and Border Patrol Officers are still reporting for duty on the U.S. side but there are not trucks coming in.

Gary Ellis owns GE Trucking, a Canada-based company. On Thursday, he drove in from the Blue Water Bridge crossing to make a couple stops in Detroit and Auburn Hills to deliver parts for Ford.

"There’s no guarantee that you’re going from A to B in a set amount of time every single day," he said.

The stoppage in travel could be historically bad for the supply chain, which is already pretty broken.

Janell Townsend is the chair of Management and Marketing at Oakland University. She's following the impact of the bridge shutdown and, to be frank, it's not good.

"If you’re missing one part to a car, most likely you have to stop production to that car," Townsend said. "It’s definitely not a good sign (of things to come). We are starting to actually see plants on our side of the border, not go down just yet, but they're starting to halt some of their shifts of production. If this actually continues, we’re going to see more production stopped."

Among the big three, Ford says its plants in Windsor and Oakville are operating at reduced capacity, while Stellantis released a statement that said they're trying to do what they can to keep things moving.

"We continue to work closely with our carriers to get parts into the plants to mitigate further disruptions. 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," a statement from Stellantis wrote.

As for Ellis, he has no reasonable expectation for when he'll be back home in Canada.

"I’ve got no expectations. Tonight, I'd probably say if I can spin this day off in about ten hours, that’d be great," he said.

Ellis said he gets paid by the trip so being delayed impacts his bottom line significantly as he can't get to his next job as fast as usual.