How will the collapse of Baltimore’s Francis Scott Key Bridge impact collision parts supply?

POSTED March 29, 2024

The recent accident and subsequent collapse of Baltimore’s Francis Scott Key Bridge, killing and injuring innocent motorists, is a devastating tragedy. As the country assesses the longer-term impacts of the incident, we look to see how this vital shipping port for automobiles and automotive parts will impact the collision repair industry.

The Port of Baltimore is the busiest U.S. port for car shipments, handling at least 750,000 vehicles in 2023, according to data from the Maryland Port Administration. Motor vehicles and automotive parts accounted for a full 42% of all Baltimore port imports.

Let’s take a look at what automakers and parts suppliers have said so far:

· Toyota Motor Sales USA recently provided this statement: “While Baltimore is not a primary port for our North American operations, there will be some impact, primarily on vehicle exports. At this time, we do not anticipate a significant disruption, but we are evaluating the situation closely to determine the longer-term impact and countermeasures.”

· Volkswagen Group of America indicated it would not be impacted because its Baltimore facility is located on the eastern seaboard of the bridge collapse, and sea traffic would not be interrupted.

· Nissan indicated it did not expect significant impacts at this time.

· BMW said, like Volkswagen, that its car docks are located on the ocean side of the harbor, so the bridge collapse will not affect ships delivering BMW cars and goods. It added that land-side truck traffic would be rerouted.

· Mercedes said the incident has had no impact on vehicle exports or the company’s Tuscaloosa, Alabama, plant’s parts supply, and it is monitoring the situation. It said it uses ports in Baltimore, as well as in Georgia and South Carolina, for vehicle imports.

· The Volvo Group, which makes trucks, construction equipment and engines, said it was looking over its inventory in its U.S. production facilities to see if and when there could be a disturbance in worst-case scenarios, adding that it currently expected no significant impact.

· Ford Chief Financial Officer John Lawler told Bloomberg News, “It’s going to have an impact. We’ll have to divert parts to other ports… It will probably lengthen the supply chain a bit.”

· U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg stated that there could be significant impacts. “There is no question that this will be major and protracted impact to supply chains,” Buttigieg said.

We will continue to monitor our quoted delivery days to assess any impact on the collision repair market.

Greg Horn - AUTHOR
Greg is the Chief Innovation Officer at PartsTrader, overseeing our Product portfolio and leading data analytics. Formerly the Vice President at Mitchell International, he held senior positions in auto insurance claims at The Hartford, GMAC Insurance, National Grange Mutual, and Leader National Transport. Greg actively serves in industry organizations like the Collision Industry Foundation and has a passion for cars, having owned over 56. Greg holds degrees in Business Administration and German.