By on March 16, 2020

coronavirus. Image: Shutterstock user Lightspring

You’ve no doubt spent the last week receiving emails from every brand you’ve ever interacted with, with each missive spelling out how the company in question is handling the coronavirus.

Some of these messages make sense — I definitely want to know that airlines, hotels, and restaurants are taking this seriously and expanding their efforts to keep things clean and disinfected, as well as how cancellation/reservation policies may change — while others seem frivolous. Do I need to hear from Sunglass Hut?

You might be wondering how TTAC’s coverage of the auto industry will change, with life having seemingly ground to a halt in large swaths of the United States and Canada and around the world.

Instead of spamming you with another email, I’m going to answer that question here (although some of you get each post emailed to you. I’m aware of the irony).

For the most part, TTAC isn’t going to be significantly affected. Our team was already all remote and working from home before the word “coronavirus” entered our vocabulary. We’re already socially distanced. And if one of us does fall ill from coronavirus/COVID-19 or just the regular old seasonal cold/flu, we’ll carry on as we normally would if one of us was away from desk. Unless a regular feature gets moved around, you likely won’t even notice.

This means our standard schedule of news posting should continue as if nothing has changed. Of course, coronavirus is having and has already had a huge impact on the automotive industry, and we’ll cover it as expertly as we always do. We’ll continue to monitor and report on every way the coronavirus affects the industry, from production to sales to whatever else, and we’ll also continue to bring you non-virus-related news and features, just to give you a welcome break from COVID-19 talk.

Still, you’ve likely heard that the New York Auto Show has been postponed, and if you follow any auto journalists on social media, you’ve likely heard of drive events being canceled.

That’s true. This means that there are a few vehicle launches TTAC was invited to that are now not happening, at least not as scheduled. Other outlets, of course, are in the same boat. So if you’re wondering why certain vehicles aren’t getting reviewed by us or the automotive press at large, or why the curtain isn’t being lifted on certain product, blame the coronavirus. While life and death is far more important than a new-car launch — although the potential economic impact of a canceled/delayed launch is nothing to sneeze at, and I worry about those who will lose jobs or income — our little corner of the world is not immune (in all senses of the word) from the impact of the disease.

Still, we’ll have car reviews. Journalists are still getting loans at home, and I have a few cars I drove in recent months that I plan on writing up. Also, look for a review of the Honda CR-V Hybrid this week. That was the last vehicle any of us traveled to drive before the world went to hell, and the embargo breaks tomorrow.

A quick aside: being on a drive program as the rest of the world starts to shut down is a weird experience. Nobody shakes hands. Being behind the wheel of a car for a good chunk of the day, unable to check news because one shouldn’t look at his phone while driving, disconnects you from the world — which offers up a sense of false comfort as things crumble, but also leaves you scrambling to catch up to the latest updates as soon as you’re in the passenger seat. Added to that is the strangeness of being in a nice place in a nice town and carrying on like normal (everyone around us, including the retirees and tourists who weren’t part of the event but simply staying in the same hotel, acted as if nothing was amiss) while events are canceling left and right. All while a sense of foreboding hangs in the air.

It only got weirder when I flew home — between the time I touched down at O’Hare and the time my head hit the pillow, hours later, the world had completely changed.

Look, this virus sucks. It’s sad hearing about the sickness and deaths it’s causing, and not just among the elderly. This thing can even hit healthy, relatively young adults hard. Don’t be fooled into complacency just because a lot of cases are mild and a lot of patients recover fully. If you’re over 60 and/or immunocompromised, or you’re healthy and under 60 but unlucky enough to get hit with one of the more serious cases, this thing can wreak some havoc, even if it doesn’t kill you.

So listen to the CDC and medical experts, wash your damn hands, and avoid crowds for the time being. If you live in a place that’s closed down all bars and restaurants, like I do, be prepared to find other ways to entertain yourself, such as reading TTAC. And for God’s sake, stop hoarding stuff.

In the meantime, if you’re stuck at home, we’ll have plenty of car-related content for you to read. Just don’t tell your boss that you’re frittering away your work time on TTAC. You know, just like you do when you’re in the office.

Stay healthy out there.

[Image: Shutterstock user Lightspring]

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30 Comments on “Housekeeping: TTAC, the Coronavirus, and You...”


  • avatar
    FreedMike

    I have gotten an UNBELIEVABLE number of emails from places that sold me crap that would be completely unrelated to the coronavirus telling me how they’re dealing with it! I even got something from Turbo Tax explaining how they safeguarding my health. I wasn’t aware you could catch this from online tax prep! Who knew?

  • avatar
    BobNelson

    The media are shaking out – hard news is scarcer, simply because people are doing less.

    So, please! Do keep posting reviews, and discussion articles. We need distraction from apocalypticism…

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      I don’t think there are any news outlets out there trying to sell this as apocalyptic…just that it’s serious and precautions should be taken. That’s a good approach. If they were blowing sunshine up our arses, they wouldn’t be doing their job.

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    I got a letter today from my HMO, it was an incorrect bill for the 3rd month in a row without one word from them about the virus or how to deal with it. Glad to see Mercy Health Care has their priorities straight :/

    Other then the lack of new car intros I’m sure there are plenty of automotive related subjects you can find to write about. Back in the day TTAC would rent cars they wanted to review. I used to think that was a pretty good idea

    • 0 avatar
      Tim Healey

      We haven’t officially killed rental reviews…just haven’t had one in a while because no one here has rented anything worth writing up in some time. They could reappear at any time.

      • 0 avatar
        Arthur Dailey

        @TimHealey: I would strongly suggest that any vehicle is worth a review. After all FCA still manufactures and sells a great many Journeys.

        Forget reviewing the high spec, fully loaded and exotic vehicles that manufacturers provide and instead focus on the mid and low range models that people actually purchase.

        Recently saw a very low mileage, dealer maintained Fiat for under $4k. One of my children requires a vehicle to take her to and from the local ‘train’ station (free parking). The trip is 5 kms each way. Perhaps she might use it for local driving on the weekend, but has access to the other family vehicles for long trips. I would love to see reviews of Fiats that have been ‘abused’ as rentals to determine if this is a realistic possibility or just putting a ‘time bomb’ in the driveway.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      Back in the day TTAC was blacklisted from press cars/events, so had to rent, borrow from commenters or lease vehicle to review.

      The old TTAC would’ve called the PT Cruiser A Glaring POS if they were around when it was unveiled, while all the others were praising it.

      • 0 avatar
        Tim Healey

        I seem to recall the buff books crapping on the PT Cruiser, if ever so diplomatically, at the time. Maybe with all this new free time I’ll check to see if that’s correct. Anyway, I know I take some flack for being a bit less harsh than previous M.E.’s in my reviews, but that’s just my Midwestern nice showing. You have to read between the lines sometimes with us Upper Midwest folk. If I drive a POS, even on a junket, I’ll say so. Same for the rest of the staff. And I have a few cars in the queue that are gonna take some shots.

      • 0 avatar
        Art Vandelay

        Subaru B9 Tribeca. Yeah, I’ve been here for a while. I’m not bashing the current staff in any way shape or form, but that was a different era. Times change.

        Having said that, would the current site do something like the “GM Deathwatch”? I’m not sure the new business arrangements would allow it.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    Holed up in my home office, not going outside because I don’t want to freak people out with my coughing and sneezing, which is from the same seasonal allergies I’ve had for the last 35 years.

    Everyone who can stay home for the moment, do so. This thing has already killed one of my coworkers (a previously healthy 60-year-old woman) and sent another to the ICU for ventilator treatment. The key issue we’re facing right now in Seattle is a lack of capacity of both ventilators and ICU beds, and that’s coming to the rest of the country within the next couple of weeks. Just slowing this down will save a whole lot of lives, because the hospitals will be able to treat more of the serious cases.

  • avatar
    JMII

    By an unbelievable stroke of luck my company had us working from home already due to an office relocation project.

    Sadly I already know of several people who have lost jobs because of this situation. However no job is better then being or sick… or worse.

    Someone handed me a pen today – and I was like really you want me to use this after YOU touched it? So now I know how my wife who is OCD about cleaning feels pretty much everyday. Also reminds me of being a kid and playing the game of “your it” where the goal was to avoid being touched by the other kids by running around and screaming constantly.

  • avatar

    WHO – updates daily, CDC and Our World in Data are all good sources for info on COVID 19.

  • avatar
    schmitt trigger

    What I simply don’t get, how or where did the toilet paper hoarding craze started.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Car stocks are crashing:

    Since ~ 1 month ago…

    TSLA is down 50+%, but part of that was due to happen anyway. They shipped the first Model Ys last week, but that won’t continue.

    F is down 40%.

    GM is down 40%.

    FCAU is down 40%.

    TM is down 25%.

    HMC is down 25%.

    HYMTF is down 35%.

    I suspect they won’t be able to produce vehicles for months, at least, and that’s bad for everybody.

    We’re about to experience what our ancestors did a century ago.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      “We’re about to experience what our ancestors did a century ago.”

      Yes. Even if we’re successful in minimizing the medical impact the total fallout of this virus is going to be extreme and long-lasting. I will say though that if Tesla can survive what’s coming then they are here to stay.

    • 0 avatar
      Art Vandelay

      100 years ago? So the stock market is about to spend a decade roaring and they are banning booze?

  • avatar
    jkross22

    Seems like the fallout of this will be us individually and companies questioning how they do their business. Does everyone need to have a cube or can people work part time remote, why do we have 50 states authorizing medical licenses and not just one for all states, what changes at all levels of government are needed to correct what has been a woeful responsiveness and inconsistent messaging, etc.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    “Being behind the wheel of a car for a good chunk of the day, unable to check news because one shouldn’t look at his phone while driving, disconnects you from the world.”

    Tim surely you have heard of a recent invention called radio (sarcasm)? Something that can provide better information than your phone. Why, ‘heritage media’. Here in Canada, I have never traveled by car out of range of the CBC, my prime source for news.

    Maybe now we can get actual reviews on vehicle ‘radio systems’. Such as whether you can actual adjust the volume and/or tuning with a dial or have to rely on a touch screen. And if the latter, that identifies a vehicle that I would never purchase.

    • 0 avatar
      Tim Healey

      When on a drive, the radio is often off so we can hear road/wind/tire noise. And we tend to chat with each other. We might play some music once we have a sense of cabin noise.

      On this drive, I think the fleet had XM playing and we left it on, but it was music, not news.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    *SIGH* .

    The Desert awaits .

    -Nate

  • avatar
    Lou_BC

    “The Desert awaits .”

    I’m probably going to drive to Tuktoyaktuk on my holiday. Social distancing is a way of life up there. LOL

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