By on March 20, 2020

Like every other business in the United States, auto dealers are attempting to implement changes that would allow them to operate safely amid the coronavirus outbreak. Undoubtedly petrified by the massive hit the Chinese car market took after COVID-19 reared its ugly head in Wuhan, they also hope to remain open while other business stay closed.

On Tuesday, the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) and Alliance for Automotive Innovation (AAI) issued a formal letter requesting that President Trump consider dealerships and service centers as “essential operations when federal, state, and local officials impose certain requirements due to the coronavirus outbreak.” While we’ve already seen dealerships embrace new tactics to comply with public health initiatives, it’s assumed they’ll be shutting down just, like most automakers plan to. However, retailers worry their diminutive cash reserves (in relation to manufacturers) won’t see them through a prolonged shutdown while the broader industry wonders who will repair automobiles during the pandemic. 

From NADA:

These facilities perform needed safety recall repairs, manufacturer warranty work, and safety-critical maintenance, including brake repair, steering repair, and much more. And they provide replacement vehicles when necessary. We note that many local jurisdictions, when issuing closure orders for non-essential businesses, have included motor vehicle facilities on the list of those that are essential. For example, yesterday’s shelter-in-place order issued by the Health Officer of the City and County of San Francisco determined that “gas stations and auto-supply, auto-repair, and related facilities” were essential businesses outside the order’s reach.

Don’t get the idea that this is all about altruism. Plenty of dealerships are understandably preoccupied with survival; if they can help keep the United States driving, all the better. Trump has said he’ll assist the automotive sector, but it’s not clear what form that aid will take or which groups will take priority. Parts suppliers, automakers and dealerships are all asking for help — but so is every other business sector impacted by the coronavirus.

“We’re watching the auto industry very much,” Trump said on Thursday. “We’re going to be helping them out at least a little bit and they’ve sort of requested some help, and it wasn’t their fault what happened. So we’ll be taking care of the auto industry.”

Optimistic estimates see coronavirus-related shutdowns suppressing automotive sales by about 3-to-4 percent vs last year’s figures. That figure presumes the shutdowns are brief and the automotive sector enters recovery by the end of April. A prolonged shutdown would be much worse. Market analysts at ALG recently suggested that an extended national shutdown could have 2020 sales sinking almost 15 percent (vs 2019) — a shortfall of 2.4 million vehicles from the firm’s initial 2020 forecast.

Earlier in the month, LMC Automotive cut its 2020 global light-duty vehicle sales forecast by 4 percent, or 3.7 million units, as the “rippling impact of the COVID-19 outbreak creates significant uncertainty.” At the time, it was one of the worst estimates given, taking into account supply chain issues from China that hadn’t yet come into full effect. Days later, Morgan Stanley added its own research, predicting a 9-percent sales decline.

[Image: Gretchen Gunda Enger/Shutterstock]

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

Recommended

98 Comments on “U.S. Auto Dealerships Ask Trump If They Can Stay Open Amid Outbreak...”


  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    It will drop 20-40%, not 9%.

    Here in PA, car dealers are closed, but repair shops and part stores are considered essential and remain open. I guess the idea is that you just keep the existing fleet going. But that doesn’t work if your car is totaled while driving to your essential job.

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      @SCE to AUX – I agree that a 9% drop is overly optimistic. Vehicle use will drop markedly as people get sent home to work or to wait out the pandemic. If I was worried about my job and was concerned about a massive recession or worse; another Great Depression, buying a new vehicle or getting routine service work would be low on my list of priorities.

    • 0 avatar
      Art Vandelay

      20 to 40 percent is a massive spread. May as well just say “it’ll drop somewhere from 0 to 100 percent.”

      • 0 avatar
        56BelAire

        20 to 25%

      • 0 avatar
        SCE to AUX

        Everybody is guessing. I based my estimate on the duration of the closures around here. Some are 2 months, some are 5 months.

        And after that, there won’t be a buying spree, because unemployment and mistrust will be so high.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          I suspect unemployment won’t be as bad as some people are saying…the economy was doing pretty well prior to this, and you can be sure that in an election year, the administration is going to be hell bent on printing stimulus money.

          I suspect some of the economic doom and gloom being spread by the administration is being done to justify all that overspending. Not that I blame them, and I actually agree stimulus is the right move…but there is clearly a political component here.

  • avatar
    65corvair

    A car dealership don’t have a lot of people coming in. Easy to keep a distance between people, even when talking to a customer. Where cases are low, stay open. The county where I live has zero cases, so why close. People who have essential jobs drive cars to work. They need fixing. Let the local government decide who closes and when. Northern Italy need to close (they have) but where I live, why?

    • 0 avatar
      smartascii

      Where you live has zero cases *confirmed*. Same where I live. But people are contagious before they have symptoms, which means they have no idea they have it, and therefore don’t get tested. You can’t assume that because no cases have been identified in a particular area, there aren’t any.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        … And just like that, MY county has its first confirmed case on the complete opposite side of the county from expected, as the other side is right against a college town that had its first confirmed case approximately two weeks ago.

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    If you’re not driving, you’re not needing repairs… during this pandemic. Afterwards, however…

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    The Governors of both Ohio and Kentucky have ordered anyone in nonessential industries stay home. Many are working telework. My job I am allowed to work 4 days a week telework and 1 day in the office but for now I am told to work at home until further notice. I don’t drive anywhere unless its for food and prescriptions. I am going to agree with SCE to AUX and Lou_BC that a 9% drop in new car sales is too low and very optimistic. I don’t think we are going back to business in a month, I would say at the very least months. Hardly drive my vehicles so the last thing on my list would be a new car or truck. With one vehicle with 23k, another with 31k, and my latest the 2012 Buick LaCrosse with 46k all are good for many many more miles and years. I am not worried about my job so its not a case of not being able to afford a new vehicle but more of a case that I don’t need one or want one. Less than 2 years from retirement.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      we got sent home to work remotely last Thursday. Luckily my department is mostly software devs and my job mostly uses our CAD/PLM and database systems, so we’re fairly well equipped to work effectively from home. VPN has been a bit slow but has held up for the most part.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    So then ;

    ? What happens of an auto dealer decides to keep it’s doors open ? .

    Will the gendarmes come , bash a few heads for effect and lock them up tightly or what ? .

    I’ve been driving around and looking at places, many friends across America have told me the tiny local dives are often remaining open because they operate on gossamer budgets and will go under if they close .

    I drove out to San Pedro to – day and there were still folks working on the docks and so on but most stores are buttoned up tight .

    I fear this will really hit the Blue Collar Class harder than anyone else .

    -Nate

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      Here in PA, the state claims they will fine businesses that don’t comply. They issued a 5-page document detailing what kinds of businesses can stay open and which must close.

      Blue collar always suffers first and worst, but that’s been true since time began.

      I’m fortunate to work for an ‘essential’ business which makes life-sustaining medical devices. I’m working from home, but our production and service lines are still running – for how long, I don’t know.

    • 0 avatar
      bullnuke

      Things seem to be taken pretty seriously in Cincinnati. It seems that the local constabulary takes action when folks fail to abide by the closure decree. wcpo.com/news/local-news/hamilton-county/cincinnati/westwood/westwood-bar-boarded-up-by-police-after-continuing-to-serve-food-drinks-indoors

      • 0 avatar
        Art Vandelay

        I hope WKRP stays on the air in Cincinnati. They were there during the “Godless Tornado” outbreak as well as that crazy Thanksgiving day that it rained turkeys. Johnny Fever comforts the good people of Cincinnati and there is no butter source for news than Les Nessman.

        • 0 avatar
          -Nate

          Thanx guys .

          I took an extended drive after filling my tank to – day and there were few cars out and almost zero law enforcement .

          -Nate

          • 0 avatar
            -Nate

            Of the two LEO’s that I saw, one blipped his siren to let me know I was dwaddling in the fast lane, the others two in a radio patrol car glanced at us then drove futher and got out of their car where I didn’t see anything .

            -Nate

          • 0 avatar
            golden2husky

            I drove to work these past weeks before I was ordered to work from home. Despite shelling out $360 for my monthly March rail pass, I have been driving in to NYC instead of taking the train. Ride in door to door took 47 minutes – a record short time. Ride home stretched to 1 hour and 10 minutes. Zero law enforcement. I hit 78 MPH in the heart of rush hour – that is unheard of.

        • 0 avatar
          JimZ

          “God as my witness, I thought turkeys could fly!!”

          (wild turkeys can, but not well. just well enough to get up into trees to roost at night.)

        • 0 avatar
          Moparmann

          Thank you for that, Art, but I will have to say that I think Venus Flytrap was more soothing than the Dr., LOL!!! :-)

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      @Nate – my oldest son works at a restaurant. They closed and told the staff that the odds are that they will never reopen. They can’t afford rent on a space that they aren’t using. They feel the best option is to cut their losses by walking away.

      • 0 avatar
        -Nate

        Lou ;

        I’m _very_ sorry to hear this, it has been on my mind a lot .

        In the 1970’s I had an indie shop and it ran on a gossamer thread budget where many ran on a shoe string .

        I’m doing O.K. now in my dotage but some times I think and wonder how I’d deal with this situation now, I had a son born in 1979…..

        I don’t actually have any $ to be buying a new vehicle even if I liked any, I recently blew $4,500 on my new (18 year old) truck by the time I was done, then other events caused by others ignoring my repeated warnings caused me to bankrupt my self to avoid loosing the house (hers not mine) so I’m riding this one out like I did back in the day, counting pennies and buying rice by the 35 pound sack again .

        Not *quite* how I’d planned my retirement .

        I hope your son and all others here don’t get caught in life’s uncertain switches ~ BT & DT, it wasn’t much fun even as a healthy young man in better times .

        -Nate

        • 0 avatar
          Lou_BC

          Thanks Nate. I hope all works out for you. I fully empathize. My divorce left me with more debt than I was planning to carry this close to retirement.
          My oldest son is stressed but that is his nature. He’s had a few blows lately. He lost his job and the joint venture trades program between high school and the local college was cancelled. His school trip to Europe was also cancelled. Over the years I’ve told him stories about my father living through the Great Depression so he knows that his “woe is me” outlook could be much much worse.
          My youngest son is chill and has a year to graduate. He wants to go to Med School. This whole situation might be beneficial to those wanting to enter any healthcare role.

          • 0 avatar
            -Nate

            I hope he handles the stress O.K. .

            Don’t worry about me, I’m fine ~ when my ex decided to go the house was _way_ underwater, she didn’t want o shoulder any debt and quit claimed it .

            I’ll live there ’till I die then my grand daughter gets it & she can bulldoze it if she wants, it’s a dump .

            No ‘woe is me’ for me .

            -Nate

  • avatar

    fuck ’em, sell cars!

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      @Buickman – to whom? Unemployment is skyrocketing. The majority of the middle class is stretched to the maximum on credit. Many with money are watching any investments and/or retirement funds vanish. My job is secure but I’m not going to buy anything while I watch and wait this out.

      • 0 avatar
        Lie2me

        Honestly, I’ve been looking at new car deals for days and I suddenly want to buy a new car in the worst way. I think I’m getting bored, but I keep fantasizing that I can get some unbelievable good deal by just walking into my local car dealers saying, “I’m here and I’m ready to buy” ;-)

  • avatar

    Dealers also make repairs esp related to warranty issues. How I am going to repair my car if it is covered under manufacture warranty?

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      In PA, repair shops are considered “essential”, and this includes dealer shops. A message from a dealer I’ve purchased from said that they’ll somehow do online sales and repairs, but the showroom sales are closed.

      • 0 avatar

        It is funny, even in my wildest imagination (and I am a scifi fan and working with latest technology) I cannot imagine how you can repair car online even if problem is SW/FW bug. I mean I can imagine but customer have to attach logic analyzer, decoders, special SW and know how to handle it, e.g. download FPGA or Sw or run tests.

      • 0 avatar
        SCE to AUX

        I meant “repairs and online sales”. :)

        • 0 avatar
          Lou_BC

          You can schedule repair appointments or maintenance on-line. A few questions can be thrown in to screen exposure risk to SARS-CoV-2 and associated COVID 19 symptoms.

  • avatar

    On the positive note that little virus solved that seemingly hopeless CO2 climate change problem. And it is not only cars but the whole economy is shut down. Something like that happened in Russia after collapse of Soviet Union – suddenly pollution problems were solved.

    • 0 avatar
      2manycars

      Except of course CO2 is not pollution and climate change is a natural phenomenon, not a “problem” that we have any control over.

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        *yawn* Science has proven that to be as accurate as the president’s statements that the CV “hoax” will be gone in a few weeks…

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        “Except of course CO2 is not pollution and climate change is a natural phenomenon, not a “problem” that we have any control over.”

        Lock yourself is an enclosed space with your car running and have the executor of your estate tell us how that worked out for you.

        “We” have control over the CO2 that goes into the atmosphere. That CO2 along with other gases emitted by man are accelerating climate change.

        Mitigating accelerated climate change isn’t much different than “flattening the curve” with COVID 19 disease. You can do nothing and let it run its course and see if mankind survives and/or hope that you are in the group that does survive.

        Either way, it is stupid on a massive scale to let it run its course when we can intervene and increase the odds of our survival.

        • 0 avatar
          ajla

          “Lock yourself is an enclosed space with your car running and have the executor of your estate tell us how that worked out for you.”

          You are talking about two different things. You would die of CO not CO2. Carbon monoxide is a very weak greenhouse gas compared to carbon dioxide.

          • 0 avatar
            Art Vandelay

            C02 will absolutely kill you. Ask Jim Lovell and the rest of the crew of Apollo 13.

          • 0 avatar
            EGSE

            @Art Vandelay – “C02 will absolutely kill you.”

            Indeed. “For instance exposure to 25% CO2 or greater, will result in death within one minute, even if there is 20% O2 in the atmosphere.”

            http://nhvss.org.au/wp-content/publications/CO2%20Flame%20as%20published%20in%20Helictite.pdf

          • 0 avatar
            Lou_BC

            @ajla – You will not do well in a CO2 rich environment. That is basically what happens to people who are dying from COVID 19. Their lungs cannot clear CO2.

          • 0 avatar

            “C02 will absolutely kill you. Ask Jim Lovell and the rest of the crew of Apollo 13.”

            Yeah, I will, thank you, but they came back alive.

        • 0 avatar
          ToolGuy

          “Lock yourself is an enclosed space with your car running and have the executor of your estate tell us how that worked out for you.”

          Choose the correct vehicle for this exercise, and you might come out ok.

          See the table in the second section of this article:
          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carbon_monoxide_poisoning

          • 35 ppm of CO (this is the NIOSH recommended exposure limit as an 8-hour time-weighted average) will give you “Headache and dizziness within six to eight hours of constant exposure”
          • 200 ppm (this is the NIOSH ceiling) will give you “slight headache within two to three hours; loss of judgment” [and coincidentally exactly the same effects you will get from dealing with the sales staff at many dealerships for 2-3 hours]
          • It gets worse after that, with 12,800 ppm promising “Unconsciousness after 2–3 breaths. Death in less than three minutes.”

          So how bad is a modern automobile? Very generally:
          • “The CO content for petrol engines varies from ~ 15ppm for well tuned engine with fuel injection and a catalytic converter up to 100,000 ppm (10%) for a richly tuned carburetor engine, such as typically found on small generators and garden equipment.”
          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exhaust_gas

          Your non-fuel-injected carbureted classic vehicle might be far worse than I ever realized (perhaps 30,000 ppm for early-1970’s).

          Most portable generators are incredibly high, which is why you should never run them close to an open vent or window on your house.

          But 15ppm isn’t going to do you in very effectively.

          Some specific data:
          https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28768080

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      This obviously isn’t priority #1 (or #200) right now, but the final fallout from all this should require the updating of climate models and future emission regulations.

  • avatar

    Shutting down car manufacturing and grounding airplanes is a good start. Now if could keep them shut down and grounded to comply with Green Deal requirements.

    • 0 avatar
      MoDo

      All that agenda 21 stuff went out the window when the virus arrived. No more elaborate and costly UN climate schemes to trick the 1st world into developing the 3rd world anymore. This is survival now.

  • avatar
    MoDo

    Analysts say 41% drop

  • avatar
    thelaine

    Most of this pain is self-inflicted and unnecessary. We can fight the virus without killing our economy. Please take a look at this opinion by Dr. David Katz in the New York Times. Dr. Katz is the founding director of the Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center.

    https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/20/opinion/coronavirus-pandemic-social-distancing.html

    • 0 avatar
      C5 is Alive

      It’s pointless to attempt reason with those who have practically fetishized predictions of doomsday and all the resulting societal and economic chaos.

      • 0 avatar
        thelaine

        Wise words, C5. Fear freezes brains. I do not recall such a mass hysteria in all of my life.

        • 0 avatar
          SCE to AUX

          Me, either – this is my first pandemic.

          This is far more virulent and deadly than flu. Exactly when will you become concerned?

          • 0 avatar
            C5 is Alive

            Unless you’re just 10 years of age, SCE, this isn’t your first pandemic. H1N1 was classified as such in 2009, and killed somewhere between 151,000 and 575,000 people worldwide, including 12,469 deaths in the U.S. Eighty percent of those victims were younger than age 65.

            I’m not surprised if you’d forgotten how serious the swine flu was, because – unlike the present mess – there was no panic. No chaos. No economic plummets (which, in the immediate aftermath of the global recession, would have been doubly devastating.) There were news reports and occasional victim tallies, but otherwise life continued on normally for 99.99 percent of the population.

            Of course we should all be concerned about COVID-19, and take appropriate measures to guard the most at-risk groups. We should practice due caution when interacting with others among the general public. However, there’s simply no rational reason for the current level of hysteria gripping our nation. None.

          • 0 avatar
            jack4x

            Yes, and there were over 60 million cases of H1N1 in the US for those 12,000 deaths (0.02% mortality rate).

            https://www.cdc.gov/flu/pandemic-resources/2009-h1n1-pandemic.html

            This has something like 50-100x the mortality of swine flu. Implying something like a million deaths if nothing was done.

            I don’t think hysteria is warranted and it’s unfortunate that the image of idiots hoarding TP has become the default in people’s minds. But this is not H1N1, this is not the seasonal flu, and it does deserve a higher level of concern and action than those.

          • 0 avatar
            Dan

            Furthermore, this one transmits much more readily than the flu, for days before any symptoms show, and for a longer period afterward. That’s reflected in a R0 60% higher than flu. There’s no plausible scenario where 60 million cases just stops there instead of rapidly turning into 250M.

            If that weren’t bad enough, the ’50-100x the flu’ mortality figures assume appropriate medical care, and even a tenth of what’s about to hit us will overwhelm the medical system such that there will be for most intents and purposes no hospital care at all – either for Coronavirus or for all of the usual things either.

            Millions dead are a foregone conclusion. The question is whether something will come out of left field to turn what napkin math says will be 10 million dead into 2.

            Or into 20.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        What’s worse…fetishizing gloom and doom, or fetishizing the idea that anyone is legitimately concerned about this is just fetishizing gloom and doom?

        Seems some people around here are totally down with the latter fetish, even though it’s just as fetishistic as the former. And I’ll bet my forthcoming $1,000 check from the big bad gummint that if a credible poll was done among these people, the majority of them are simply trying to insulate certain folks with elaborate orange combovers from political doom and gloom.

        And @thelaine…stop it already with the idea that anyone who has legitimate concerns about this has a frozen brain (i.e., stupid or crazy…take your pick, right?). Just stop. I asked you several times what *your* ideas are to keep this from spreading without economic consequences, and all you come back with is your silly “people who are buying into this are (insert insult here).” They aren’t. Period. Enough already.

        • 0 avatar
          C5 is Alive

          “Millions dead are a foregone conclusion.”

          Jesus fvcking Christ. Total deaths worldwide are currently 15,400 and the virus has already hit most of the Western world. We’ve a long way to go before we’re burying “millions.”

          STOP FEEDING THE HYSTERIA.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            @C5: I’m glad you changed your wording, because by no means has this virus “burned through” most of the Western world. What we need it to do is “burn through” its current victims and try not to create new infections in the process–which is what these quarantines and ‘self-isolations” are all about. There’s a reason why these actions are called, “Flattening the Curve.” Without these isolations, the disease could spread far faster and generate the effects we’re trying to avoid.

            Openly claiming that this disease is weaker than the “average flu”, as Thelaine likes to state, only promotes ignorance–maintaining the status quo without any effort to protect yourself from others (and others from yourself.) Remember, we do NOT have an effective treatment for this disease, nor do we have any effective anti-virus for it like we do those other flus, which means this disease has the POTENTIAL to be far worse and appears to be proving that potential among KNOWN Covid-19 victims at more than 100x the rate of those “average flus” which have the treatments and vaccines available.

            This Covid-19 is not an “average flu” simply because of that lack and needs to be moderated by more extreme methods until we can generate the treatments and vaccines to minimize it. Remember, many of those other flus had just as extreme a potential as this one did when they were first discovered, though their detection and preventative measures were triggered far sooner than this one and as a result had a far smaller total effect on the population. This time we had a government actively preventing any proactive efforts until it grew too big to ignore any longer.

          • 0 avatar
            TCowner

            AMEN

            Enjoy Netflix for the next couple of weeks and then we can get on with our lives, without CNN predicting doomsday with each and every story?

          • 0 avatar
            Dan

            “Jesus fvcking Christ. Total deaths worldwide are currently 15,400 and the virus has already hit most of the Western world. We’ve a long way to go before we’re burying “millions.””

            Which has already gone up another 1,000 since you wrote that this morning. There will be 3,000 more tomorrow.

            What makes you think that this is going to just magically stop?

          • 0 avatar
            C5 is Alive

            “What makes you think that this is going to just magically stop?”

            Not a thing; in fact, I’d prefer to see the virus burn through the population even faster, so that it’s behind us that much sooner. While “flattening the curve” ostensibly helps protect the most vulnerable among us, it also serves to prolong the societal and economic damage inflicted by this overblown mess.

            Bottom line: it’s going to take a lot more than 16,500… or 165,000… or even 1.65 million fatalities around the globe for me to believe this farce was worth the global depression that has resulted. Sure, people are going to die from COVID-19… just as we all will someday, and as we do every single day from any of tens of thousands of different causes. Each of those losses represent personal tragedies for those affected; they do not, however, result in national or international crises.

          • 0 avatar
            Dan

            “Bottom line: it’s going to take a lot more than 16,500… or 165,000… or even 1.65 million fatalities around the globe for me to believe this farce was worth the global depression that has resulted.”

            If this virus goes around the globe the way that it gives every indication that it’s in the process of doing there will be quite a number of days with 165,000 dead that day.

          • 0 avatar
            C5 is Alive

            Dan, even if your doomsday predilection proves to be accurate (and I highly doubt it will) those numbers still wouldn’t justify the chaos that has resulted. We all die.

        • 0 avatar
          thelaine

          I have legitimate concerns too, Freedmike, but people whose brains are frozen over by fear refuse to debate a less draconian response. They want it all, regardless of cost, because that is what you do when you are terrified, and they attack the messenger as lacking compassion. People who are not angry and emotionally upset are happy to engage in debate.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            Hmmm…well, considering that you haven’t said one thing about what you’d do differently to stem the spread of this virus (which is the end goal of all the draconian stuff you’re talking about), you’re refusing to debate too.

            You’re just bagging on people who are overreacting to what’s going on – and yes, you’re right, some people are definitely overreacting – but you’re not providing any solutions. So what’s your plan for not spreading this virus without dire economic consequences?

            If there was a way to do this that didn’t impact the economy, and the plan made sense, maybesome of the hysterical folks you’re talking about might just chill out.

          • 0 avatar
            C5 is Alive

            “So what’s your plan for not spreading this virus without dire economic consequences?”

            I’m not thelaine, and he may very well feel differently, but here’s how I’d solve the second part of your question by accepting the first will never happen.

            1) Immediately close all nursing homes, assisted care facilities and hospitals to ALL visitors to protect elderly patients. This has already been done to a (too-)limited extent.

            2) Publish precautions for other vulnerable elements of the population to take. The “elderly-only” hours many grocery stores have adopted is a good example.

            And now, where you’re going to go nuts…

            3) End all government-mandated closures and quarantines, and let the virus burn through the population as it will anyway.

            4) Accept that “x” number of people will die from it, just as a certain amount of people die every day from tens of thousands of other causes, from car accidents to the flu to falling down the stairs to cancer.

            5) As a society, acknowledge those losses represent personal tragedies for those affected but not a national crisis for those who aren’t. And life goes on for the rest of us.

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            @FreedMike

            or, as Moe Szyzlak so succinctly said- “If yer so sure what it ain’t, how come you ain’t tellin’ us what it is?”

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      @thelaine – that doctor is in favour of “herd immunity”. Ironically, that was the position England was going to take but has decided that was not a sound approach. The epidemiology experts convinced the politicians that it “herd immunity” wasn’t a sound course of action.

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        “Herd immunity” before there’s a vaccine just sounds to me like “I don’t mind if both your parents die.” My mom is 80 and lives a mile from the notorious Life Care Center; my dad is 76 and travels around the world for work. Both are in robust health but the data say they are at a lot more risk than most people.

        • 0 avatar
          Lou_BC

          The best approach is to minimize spread and aggressively ramp up the medical system to fight the disease. You then slowly ease off on social restrictions and fight the new wave of cases that arise. That is exactly what China is doing right now. This isn’t a 3 month plan, it is a new way of doing business for as long as humans continue to inhabit this planet.

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    @thelaine: If you want to hear about Mass Hysteria, then look up Orsen Welles’ ‘War of the Worlds’ radio play. Better yet, listen to it while keeping in mind that television was unheard of, much less the internet, when it aired.

    • 0 avatar
      thelaine

      That is an excellent analogy, Vulpine.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      Yeah, not so much.
      https://slate.com/culture/2013/10/orson-welles-war-of-the-worlds-panic-myth-the-infamous-radio-broadcast-did-not-cause-a-nationwide-hysteria.html

      • 0 avatar
        thelaine

        But there are several major problems with subsuming the especially vulnerable within the policies now applied to all.
        First, the medical system is being overwhelmed by those in the lower-risk group seeking its resources, limiting its capacity to direct them to those at greatest need. Second, health professionals are burdened not just with work demands, but also with family demands as schools, colleges and businesses are shuttered. Third, sending everyone home to huddle together increases mingling across generations that will expose the most vulnerable.
        As the virus is already circulating widely in the United States, with many cases going undetected, this is like sending innumerable lit matches into small patches of tinder. Right now, it is harder, not easier, to keep the especially vulnerable isolated from all others — including members of their own families — who may have been exposed to the virus.
        If we were to focus on the especially vulnerable, there would be resources to keep them at home, provide them with needed services and coronavirus testing, and direct our medical system to their early care. I would favor proactive rather than reactive testing in this group, and early use of the most promising anti-viral drugs. This cannot be done under current policies, as we spread our relatively few test kits across the expanse of a whole population, made all the more anxious because society has shut down.
        This focus on a much smaller portion of the population would allow most of society to return to life as usual and perhaps prevent vast segments of the economy from collapsing. Healthy children could return to school and healthy adults go back to their jobs. Theaters and restaurants could reopen, though we might be wise to avoid very large social gatherings like stadium sporting events and concerts.

        https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/20/opinion/coronavirus-pandemic-social-distancing.html

        • 0 avatar
          Dan

          I agree with you thelaine that what that article describes is a fairly rational response. This half-ass quarantine isn’t doing much besides breaking the economy. Western countries aren’t nearly disciplined and structured enough for, and it’s too late for anyway, a really strict lockdown that would work. Old people stay the hell in and young people do our best would minimize the economic damage along the way.

          But you can’t rationally expect people to just rationally turn our bellies up and wait for the knife of 10 million deaths either. We’re going to try anything, and break the economy trying.

          The best case likely scenario right now is that half-assed, party anyway lockdown works as badly as we can all see that it is, we reach the point of no return before the general public realizes that we’ve reached it, and it then burns out fast enough to save some semblance of the economy afterwards.

          It’s also plausible to me that the outcome directly above has been the intention all along and the small efforts are just the PR campaign to keep panic down.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        @JimZ: On reading the article you linked, it becomes obvious that it is just as guilty of exaggeration through minimizing as those reported newspaper articles were of maximizing. Like you and others, you try to use the lack of data to claim a lack of effect. Yet as one old saw puts it, lack of evidence is not evidence of lack. The places that saw the largest effect were those areas supposedly in the direct “line of fire” of the supposed attack, in other words, Bayonne, New Jersey and its overall surroundings. A little study has you discovering that during that first half-hour of the program, those ‘hearing’ the show, even if not ‘listening’ to the show per se, suddenly started listening and then yelling at neighbors to dial to the network, forgetting that it was a radio play.

        Again I emphasize the simple fact that in 1938, communication was nowhere near the ubiquity that we enjoy today and what might be happening factually on one station may not even be picked up by another for hours, if not days. That is why I stated that you had to keep in mind the state of communication back when it played, which the article you linked fails to recognize. What that article totally misses is the simple fact that people dialed AWAY from their favorite programs to hear what they thought was live news while those who had telephones (another communication that was not yet ubiquitous) were calling police and other services to try to determine the truth of the matter. When police couldn’t answer with a definite yes or no (which did happen in many communities) they assumed the police was trying to minimize the threat, which for some make it even more urgent. After all, war had already broken out in some parts of Europe and the US was already somewhat on edge as to how they would respond. Yes, your article certainly has certain facts correct but it doesn’t have any truth behind what actually happened during that triggering hour.

        People claim that hindsight is always 20/20 but that isn’t always true–sometimes hindsight fogs over why something happens in its effort to understand what really happened.

      • 0 avatar
        Art Vandelay

        So what is the amount we are willing to spend here? You can give me all of that “you can’t put a price on lives” talk but it’s just talk. I know it’s talk because I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that the price the Government puts on my life is something less than a Blackhawk helicopter. Yes, it isn’t a straight dollar thing but at the end of the day my life was less valuable than the helicopter and the lives on it so if a choice had to be made, I draw the short straw.

        I ask because I’ve heard for 20+ years that the Iraq war bankrupted this nation. That was 1 trillion dollars over like 15 years.

        Within a 2 week period we are going to spend 2.5 ish trillion on the first round of this.

        Not to be the cold A-holes, but where does that come from? I don’t think you can throw around those numbers without fundamentally changing this country. So what is the cost per life saved here we are willing to spend? It can’t be an unlimited number. People will die. Nature is a cruel witch like that.

        But people who get paid to make these tough decisions had better have something in mind. Sorry to be the cold voice of logic.

        And you can “what if it was you or a loved one”. Well I’d be sad, even angry. But you don’t beat mother nature at the poker table. That’s life.

        • 0 avatar
          Art Vandelay

          And oh yeah, where are all of the “you need to minimize and live in the city to be close to your job” types now? Why would somebody want to live somewhere where they have some space? Hmmm…I can’t imagine why I wouldn’t want to live packed in somewhere. But yeah, these kids have it aaaaallll figured out. GTFOH

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          @Art Vandelay: “Within a 2 week period we are going to spend 2.5 ish trillion on the first round of this.”

          Wouldn’t the better question be, ‘Where is this going’? First off, the bill didn’t pass; it’s going nowhere quick. Why? Because the Senate wanted the vast majority of that cash to go to corporation as a bailout, not to the people who are being laid off and even dismissed by those corporations. At least one group of politicians blocked that bill for that reason. Whether they’ll be able to re-word it for a more equitable distribution or not, I have no idea.

          Where does the money come from? It comes from our taxes and here we see another political ploy in their obvious attempt to force one party to raise taxes to pay for the other party’s spending, while that spending party tries to call the other a “tax and spend” party. These political shenanigans have been going on for over 40 years and with each swing from one Presidency to the next, the policies have been going to ever more extreme levels, rather than the compromising, ‘middle-of-the-road’ policies our Founding Fathers originally intended.

          Here’s the thing: Religions are not supposed to be political entities. Corporations are not supposed to be political entities. Only the PEOPLE…the citizens of this once-great country…are supposed to be political entities. But because religion and corporations have been turned into political entities through Super-PACs and certain unconstitutional laws like Citizens United, it is now the Evangelists and Corporations who run this country, not the People.

          • 0 avatar
            Art Vandelay

            Thats a lot of talk Vulpine. We don’t have 2.5 trillion based on collected taxes so it is going to come from borrowing.

            That’s fine…borrowing in times of emergency is perfectly acceptable to any sane and rational person. But it is being stuck on top of borrowing that was neither sane nor rational by both sides of the political spectrum.

            I do think Congress needs to act quickly. Some money is going to need to go directly to people for immediate needs since the government has told them to stay home. The right will have to suck up that bit of socialism. But the Left has to accept that some companies will also need cash so that those people have a job to go back to. Some strings are acceptable for sure but it will need to happen.

            But if at the end of the day they can’t put aside politics and make it happen, I’m going back to work as are millions of others going to do. The risk needle swings and when you make people choose between loosing everything they have and their way of life vs the health of those vulnerable to this, those vulnerable people are going to lose every time. People aren’t going to sit by and be ruined over it. Call it whatever you will, but its the truth.

            So you can keep on with the political BS, but it is just that and doesn’t matter right now. If you make people choose on this, you aren’t going to like the choice if you are sick or old, which last I checked, most in congress are. You are going to need to keep people afloat and their employers be it some small restaurant or General Motors or get out of the way and let the chips fall. I don’t want to see anyone die needlessly, but I’m not putting my family on the street either. If they won’t do their job I am going to go to work and do mine.

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            “That’s fine…borrowing in times of emergency is perfectly acceptable to any sane and rational person. But it is being stuck on top of borrowing that was neither sane nor rational by both sides of the political spectrum.”

            exactly. We *should* be trying to run some sort of “surplus” while the economy is going good, so we *can* spend when things hit the skids. But sadly, the last time we even tried was the last two years of Clinton’s presidency and the first two years of W. Bush’s. But we seem to think we need to keep spending nearly a trillion dollars a year on the military (much of which goes to hilariously inflated supply contracts) even when things are rolling. Apparently people think we need a military big enough to fight a repeat of WWII single-handedly or something.

            EU governments are no better; enacting “austerity measures” during the Great Recession just deepened the wound.

          • 0 avatar
            Art Vandelay

            Yes @Jim…even as a Defense Contractor, I 100 percent agree. We will need to spend alot on our Military…that is the nature of our position in the world. But that large number could be a much smaller large number.

            Honestly our overhead on our contract isn’t that much but we could save some on things like travel (we have to follow DoD purchasing guidelines which is never the cheapest or easiest) but as I am involved in testing for procurement of new systems, the level of waste and “scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours” that goes on between the branches and the big fish (General Dynamics, Lockheed-Martin, Booz-Allen, etc.) is nuts and that stinking system needs to get kicked over.

            We have also let mission creep take over. We just don’t need to/can’t afford to be everywhere all the time.

        • 0 avatar
          thelaine

          I’m with you Art, as to both excellent posts.

  • avatar

    The problem is that a forced month off are going to toss a fair number of people off any buying of anything. Salaried folks are probably OK but the people who are hanging on…not so much. Between the two, there will be a signficant contraction among working people who generally are able to buy but won’t, because of the contraction. Whether or not the dealer is open probably isn’t going to be deciding, long term. The biggest victim of the virus will be the precariot…

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    @speedlaw–True and I would add that since I have been basically quarantined for 2 weeks I have discovered there are a lot of things I have bought in the past are not things I need. Fortunately I have enough toilet paper, paper towels, laundry detergent, soap, shampoo, canned goods, and frozen food to last a month or more and that was before COVID-19. I have been wanting to use up my excess of stuff and now I will. Also this gives my wife and I a chance to go through old housewares and clothing and gather it together for the Vietnam Vets to pick up. Not good to have COVID-19 but we are using this as an opportunity to use stuff up and get rid of excess.

  • avatar
    dusterdude

    I think 2020 sales will be down 20 – 30% from 2019. ( remember in most parts of North America COVID19 didnt start looking serious until earlier March. The balance of 2020 likely to be > 30% lower than comparable 2019 month )

    A reasonable solution for dealerships for this pandemic is to allow them to have service open on a controlled basis ( to allow social distancing) . The showroom should be closed- as others have noted online sales are fine

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Here’s a problem we never need to talk about – a long shutdown will mean there are no new cars to buy. Imagine that.

    The normal 60-day inventory will be consumed either through online sales or a few open showrooms, and then we’ll be faced with a WWII situation – no new cars, at least for a while. The 2020 production year could be very brief, and 2021 production is likely all the mfrs produce when they restart.

  • avatar
    gasser

    I haven’t even started my car in two weeks. It is a lease, so it goes back when lease is up, even with less mileage. If it were an owned car, however, my trade in would probably be delayed for as much time as the car stood unused. I think the combination of less driving and many people earning less than in full employment years will serve to lower auto sales. I don’t see a return to 17 million annual units, nor do I see a run on the current bloated inventories causing American factories to run flat out in 2021.

    • 0 avatar
      Art Vandelay

      I’ll let you know how this works out. I was shopping the mini EV prior to this. They have a car that rotates dealerships for test drives and I was due at the end of the month to head to Birmingham and drive it.

      As it is I doubt the car is going to see production anytime soon.

      The cars on the lot are it right now so while financing is great and you’ll certainly be in the driver’s seat, it isn’t like you are going to be able to run off with a 40k GT R or something. As I was in the market anyway I’ll stay in the market, but if I wasn’t I wouldn’t be running out to buy something just because. I imagine though I’ll end up keeping my Fiesta ST. Man if they put those plaid seats in the Jetta GLI though…

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Sorry, going for test drives with someone I don’t know, to buy a product I don’t need to buy right now, seems like a really dumb idea. Sales personnel aren’t essential. Service personnel are another story, and it seems to me it’s pretty easy to “socially distance” the mechanics in the shop, and pretty much impossible to do the same with the sales staff.

    Service is where most dealerships make their money anyway, as I understand it…

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    On a positive note: if you’re feeling fine, this is a f**king KILLER time to go out driving, which I did today.

    (Hey, I’ll take any silver lining I can find.)

  • avatar
    namesakeone

    Just what we need: An atmosphere where close physical contact (sitting close together in a car for a test drive, sitting across a small desk, shaking hands) is considered an element (though in the latter case, not a necessary) part of the job.

  • avatar
    thelaine

    I have always engaged you and anyone else civilly Freedmike, if given the same courtesy, and I continue to believe that the reason people are willing to burn down the economy in order to try to stop a virus which is less deadly than the average flu is because they are panicking and hysterical. Turn off the TV.

    Read this:

    https://www.statnews.com/2020/03/17/a-fiasco-in-the-making-as-the-coronavirus-pandemic-takes-hold-we-are-making-decisions-without-reliable-data/

    https://science20.org/david-zaruk/20200320/coronavirus-shows-our-reliance-precautionary-principle-has-ruined-our-ability?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=facebook

    https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/20/opinion/coronavirus-data.html

    Opening your mind to other opinions is the best way to stop the hysteria and panic.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      @thelaine: I just read your first link at StatNews and I agree with what it says; we really don’t have all the facts and most seriously in my opinion, the US Government–or rather, the President–din’t want those facts and for two of the three years he’s been in office he has done nearly everything possible to prevent ANYONE from getting those facts as he has shut down or fired the doctors and scientists whose job it was to discover the facts through proper means. It even turns out that our President pulled an office out of China back in July whose sole purpose was to keep track of diseases there that could affect the American people–again, mere months before it broke out in Wuhan and has now spread into a global disease.

      Yes, I agree that some people are over-reacting; but they’re over-reacting because they don’t have the data they need to address the issue empirically. This disease MIGHT, under proper treatment, be “less deadly than the average flu,” but it is NOT proving so, as actual numbers are showing the disease hundreds of times MORE deadly. Even that first link, while stating, “The one situation where an entire, closed population was tested was the Diamond Princess cruise ship and its quarantine passengers. The case fatality rate there was 1.0%, but this was a largely elderly population, in which the death rate from Covid-19 is much higher,” also states, “We don’t know if we are failing to capture infections by a factor of three or 300.”

      Simply put, until we know more about the disease and proper treatments, the early death rate is going to be higher on a detected ratio than the other flu viruses and that article, while not in so many words, says the same. Even that article assumes a death rate of three times that of the average flu at 0.3%. Again, we don’t know enough about the disease and so far the only political entity that does is one our President is accusing of not telling us about it AFTER, he had gone out of his way to remove those offices that could have told him perhaps months BEFORE it even hit the US news.

      On a personal note about the sites you link, they come across as “alternate science” through their other articles. While they claim to be ‘real’ science reporters, somehow they manage to avoid referencing any sources for their data, which makes them as bad, if not worse, than the people they’re criticizing.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Hmmm…interesting stuff, but…

      If there is no “reliable data” on a disease, under-react to preventing it? OK…give me 100% reliable data on my expected lifespan if I smoke, eat out at McDonald’s every day, and refuse to exercise. And good luck with that – it’s impossible to predict reliably. Some people die in their 50s from that, but it’s entirely possible that someone engages in that kind of behavior, lives to 90, and dies in a house fire, like someone’s Uncle Joey did. It happens all the time. But what kind of idiot says, “well, it didn’t kill Uncle Joey, so I’m gonna do it too”?

      And none of these articles, interesting as they are, explain how you prevent the spread of this virus – which is the reason behind all the draconian stuff you’re talking about – without impacting the economy? Good luck with that one too.

      We have two choices: under-react or over-react. Clearly the over-under here is that under-reacting is going to cause more harm than over-reacting; if that was not the case, then we’d be under-reacting.

Read all comments

Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

  • stuki: At least pooch managed to avoid slamming into concrete barriers, 18 wheelers and homeless people. Which is...
  • Inside Looking Out: Good observation. That’s what exactly they do. But Lexus is just less ugly.
  • Tele Vision: My first and second cars were both Pontiac Parisienne wagons, an ’82 followed by an ’88 (...
  • Inside Looking Out: “Uniquely ugly” sounds good to me. But what matters is it reliable or not. Other...
  • backtees: The good news is, like many a Buick sedan over the past decade, you can find some REAL Avalon cream puffs...

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Who We Are

  • Timothy Cain
  • Matthew Guy
  • Ronnie Schreiber
  • Bozi Tatarevic
  • Chris Tonn
  • Corey Lewis
  • Mark Baruth