Ambassador Bridge shutdown cost auto industry $300 million

Protests that shut down the Ambassador Bridge inflicted almost $300 million in financial losses to the auto industry, an analysis of the border disruption found.

According to a study by an East Lansing-based research firm, lost wages in Michigan, Kentucky, Ohio, Alabama, as well as in Ontario added up to a costly week for the automotive sector, following the blockage of one of the busiest border crossings in the country. 

From Feb. 7 to Feb. 15, direct wage losses totaled to around $144.9 million - mostly in Michigan and Ontario. 

GM, Ford, Stellantis, Honda, and Toyota suffered losses of $155 million.

"Within hours of the trade disruption at the Ambassador and Blue Water bridges, we observed shortages and then slowdowns at assembly plants," said Patrick Anderson, Anderson Economic Group’s Principal and CEO. "Only some of that lost production can be made up given the tightness of the auto industry’s supply chain right now, so these are real losses to the men and women working in this industry."

The trade disruption's timing only worsened an already precarious situation for automakers, which have been hit hard by parts shortages and the pandemic. 

"Many of the cars that weren’t produced during the past ten days will not go to the customers that would have bought them, as those customers are already headed elsewhere or are simply going to go without a new car at this time," said Anderson.

The Windsor mayor declared the protest at the international border crossing over on Sunday, but it wasn't until Monday Feb. 14 that traffic began to flow

MORE: Windsor mayor says 'national economic crisis' is over, bridge reopened

The week of consternation at the border quickly became a national story as the economic hurt from the pandemic inflicted on Detroit's automakers further metastasized. 

Even after negotiations by police, a state of emergency from the Ontario premier, an injunction from a court to vacate the site, and more patience from law enforcement Saturday, protesters remained at the bridge well into Sunday. Canadian police say they arrested 46 people before access was fully restored.