By on August 5, 2020

2019 Honda Passport front quarter

Honda reported a $765 million loss in the fiscal quarter ending June 30th, a marked downturn in its financial standing when compared to the quarter before.

Hardly shocking, though, given the virus-related global sales plunge and the production shutdown that afflicted the American manufacturing scene in April and May. Honda’s characterizing it as a “nowhere to go but up” scenario. (Read More…)

By on August 5, 2020

Delayed six times by the coronavirus pandemic, Roger Penske vowed the Indy 500 would not be ran in 2020 without an audience in the stands. Having purchased the historic Indianapolis Motor Speedway in January, Penske said he was willing to run the race with limited capacity (quoting estimates that continued to come down as the year progressed) and drafted an extensive manual to help organizers keep attendees safe. However, the document will no longer be needed, now that the decision has been made to hold the event with the rafters completely empty on August 23rd.

Safety has trumped good times once again as Mr. Penske noted cases continue to rise in Indiana, forcing him to recant his decision to allow fans into the venue. Only essential personnel will be allowed to enter this year’s Indianapolis 500. (Read More…)

By on August 4, 2020

2021 Subaru Crosstrek Sport - Image: Subaru

Apparently not quite done with monthly sales reporting, Subaru produced two very different tallies for its U.S. and Canadian arms in July. Known for being able to build just as many vehicles as it can sell, the automaker habitually carries one of the slimmest inventories in the industry — and the pandemic didn’t help things on that front.

Domestic factories have been up and running since May, lessening the strain on both dealers and sales sheets, but normalcy remains out of reach for certain industry players. And that group includes Subaru. In the U.S., volume was down nearly 20 percent last month, but north of the border it was an entirely different story. (Read More…)

By on July 31, 2020

This isn’t the first time we’ve learned of an “all hands on deck” situation taking place at a U.S. assembly plant. Recall this report from earlier this month, in which sources claimed managers and other white-collar employees hit the floor at General Motors truck plants in a bid to cover absent workers.

It was inevitable, given the reality facing companies hoping to maintain full production amid a viral pandemic. The latest report comes out of Marysville, Ohio — home to an enormous Honda assembly operation. Seems even accountants had to don hardhats. (Read More…)

By on July 30, 2020

ford

Ford Motor Company made many investors happy on Thursday, reporting a less-than-feared loss in the second-quarter of 2020.

Despite the company’s chief financial officer predicting a Q2 loss of $5 billion or more three months ago, the automaker’s actual earnings before interest and taxes was only in the red $1.9 billion — a minor miracle given the stormy backdrop. (Read More…)

By on July 29, 2020

gm

Keeping its lucrative full-size pickup lines chugging along has proved a challenge for General Motors, what with workers in Indiana and Michigan shying away from factories due to COVID-19 testing, contraction of the illness itself, or fear of it.

The problem isn’t solely the domain of big truck and SUV plants. The automaker also has a problem with its midsize pickup plant in Missouri, but a solution is underway. (Read More…)

By on July 29, 2020

General Motors’ second-quarter earnings report is out, and there’s red ink to report.

Hammered by the coronavirus-related shutdown of its domestic manufacturing facilities and a corresponding sales slide, the automaker reported an $800 million loss in Q2 — a far cry from the rosy, $2.42 billion profit it saw a year earlier.

GM’s cash burn was also a five-alarm affair, but one element of the report was hardly depressing at all: the company’s Chinese sales. (Read More…)

By on July 28, 2020

nissan leaf charging

Via a Google search, an old press release floated up from January of 2019 that, in hindsight, foreshadows current events. You see, because of the shutdown, organizers of last year’s Consumer Electronics Show warned attendees that they might see some changes to programming.

That shutdown was the byproduct of typical partisan wrangling. Fast-forward to 2020 and all programming, everywhere, is impacted by an altogether different shutdown, one which stands to turn next year’s CES tech extravaganza into an online-only affair. (Read More…)

By on July 24, 2020

Genesis

Already in the unenviable position of having gone its entire life without the presence of a utility vehicle, the now-adolescent Genesis brand has one last hurdle to clear before it can join the rest of its peers.

That hurdle is a delay caused by the spring coronavirus shutdown — meaning that the long-awaited GV80 SUV and its revamped sedan platform mate, the G80, won’t make it to market this summer, as initially planned. (Read More…)

By on July 23, 2020

Mercedes-Benz parent company Daimler reported its second-quarter earnings Thursday, revealing a net loss of nearly 2 billion euros and a revenue drop of more than 12 billion euros. Thanks, coronavirus.

While the red ink spilling from Daimler’s balance sheet is cause for concern, the automaker put on a happy face, regarding this year’s financial blows as mere setbacks. The company expects pre-tax earnings to return to the positive side of the scale by the end of the year. To help grow future profits, the Mercedes-Benz brand plans to turn its focus to the toniest of products. (Read More…)

By on July 21, 2020

2020 Chrysler Pacifica Limited with S Appearance - Image: Chrysler“How bad is it? And how bad is it going to be?”

Those were our questions five months ago when describing the American minivan category’s paltry 408,982 sales in calendar year 2019. At that time, the rate of decline experienced by the segment suggested that, “America won’t even acquire 300,000 minivans next year.”

Enter novel coronavirus and, consequently, a second-quarter in which auto sales in the United States tumbled by a third. For perspective, that’s 1.5 million fewer sales between April and June of 2020 than during the equivalent period one year earlier.

Meanwhile, as quarantines and lockdowns and isolations and shutdowns caused new vehicle demand to shrink, the previously beloved minivan segment saw its share of the U.S. market absolutely crater. (Read More…)

By on July 16, 2020

Auto plants across the U.S. are a beehive of activity as workers (and their bosses) seek to make up for lost time. The two-month coronavirus shutdown drained inventories, yet the virus that sparked the unprecedented closure of workplaces across the nation hasn’t gone away.

As you read yesterday, the ongoing pressures reportedly forced one Detroit-based automaker to take desperate measures just to keep the taps running. So Detroit Three automakers probably reacted with trepidation after hearing the U.S.’s most car-heavy state isn’t afraid to pump the brakes once again. (Read More…)

By on July 15, 2020

According to a report in the Detroit Free Press, General Motors’ truck plants now resemble Tesla plants on the eve of the end of a fiscal quarter.

The need to crank out as many pickups as possible — essential for replenishing a depleted inventory while boosting flagging sales figures — has apparently brought both management and laid-off workers to the assembly line. (Read More…)

By on July 13, 2020

Shelby GT500

I almost turned the invite down.

In early June, Ford lit up my inbox with an invitation to head to Joliet, Illinois, to drive the Shelby GT500 on track at the members-only Autobahn Country Club.

Ah, Joliet – best known for the now-defunct prison featured in The Blues Brothers and other media. Also home of the Chicagoland Speedway, where NASCAR has a Cup race most years, as well as the Route 66 drag strip, which hosts NHRA events. Too bad we couldn’t turn the Shelbys loose on the oval. Or the drag strip. The latter was actually part of the plans. More on that later.

(Read More…)

By on July 10, 2020

toyota

Fall holiday discounts aside, the height of summer is typically a good time to head out and buy a car. The weather’s good, new models are rolling into dealers, and markdowns are appearing on older stock taking up precious space. Yet 2020 is anything but a normal year.

As the industry struggles to regain the volume it once enjoyed, threadbare inventories continue to plague automakers, though not everyone’s equal in this exercise. (Read More…)

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