Maryland Bridge Collapse Raises Automobile Supply Chain Concerns

General Motors, Ford rerouting shipments due to port closure

Liz Hughes, Editor, IoT World Today

March 27, 2024

2 Min Read
Tasos Katopodis/Getty Image

One of the busiest ports on the East Coast is at a standstill this week following a devastating accident that left an icon at the bottom of the sea and several people missing. 

Late Monday night a cargo ship hit a support beam on the Francis Scott Key Bridge plunging it and everyone on it into the waters below. By Tuesday, officials were investigating the crash while searching for victims. 

The collapse has closed the seaport, which raises concerns about the potential impact the closure will have on the supply chain. Baltimore is the No. 1 automobile port in the U.S. and its vehicle terminals moved more than 750,000 vehicles in 2022. 

“Indications are that the most immediate and direct impact of this incident will be in the automotive sector," said Josh Builta, Omdia's senior research director of AI and IoT. "However, it also highlights how quickly such unanticipated incidents can put sudden constraints on supply chains.”

Supply chain issues were starting to dissipate following the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, but the collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge has raised some concerns, particularly to the automobile industry.

John Bozzella, president and CEO of the Alliance for Automotive Innovation, said it’s too early to say what impact the incident will have on the auto business, but that there will “certainly be a disruption.”

“Baltimore is the No. 1 automobile port in the U.S., and we’re in touch with federal officials to help them understand the scale of automotive operations there,” he said. 

On Wednesday Ford and GM already began diverting shipments.

Ford’s CFO John Lawler told Bloomberg TV that the shuttered port will have an impact but that the company will work around that, diverting parts to other ports along the East Coast and other parts of the country. 

General Motors is also rerouting shipments but said in a statement it expects minimal impacts to operations while it reroutes automobile deliveries to other ports. 

According to Maryland’s Department of Transportation, Port Administration, the Port of Baltimore had $74.3 billion worth of foreign cargo come through. In 2022, Baltimore handled 43.3 million tons of cargo. In 2019 that was 44.2 tons. 

Built in the 1970s the Francis Scott Key Bridge was a 1.6-mile structure that spanned Maryland’s Patapsco River and outer Baltimore Harbor. It links Baltimore to Washington, D.C. and last year was estimated to have carried 11.5 million vehicles across its span.

About the Author(s)

Liz Hughes

Editor, IoT World Today, IoT World Today

Liz Hughes is an award-winning digital media editor with more than two decades of experience in newspaper, magazine and online media industries. 

A proven digital media strategist and editor, Liz has produced content and offered editorial support and leadership for a variety of web publications, including Fast Company, NBC Boston, Street Fight, QuinStreet, WTWH Media, AOL/Patch Media and Design News.

A skilled social media strategist experienced in developing and maintaining an audience across multiple platforms and brands, Liz also enjoys sharing her knowledge and expertise to help businesses small and large.

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