Tag: COVID-19

By on October 12, 2020

The National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) has decided to go digital to combat the coronavirus pandemic, canceling plans for what would have been an in-person event held at the end of January. Plans now include a virtual, mid-week conference starting on February 9th, which organizers agree will be far better than a bunch of people enjoying themselves at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans over a long weekend.

Truth be told, there wasn’t much of a decision to be made. New Orleans may have decided it’s ready to open up restaurants, retail outlets, and giant shopping centers to the public but trade shows and bars have proven themselves bridge too far. While locals have accused the city of using COVID-19 as an excuse to gentrify certain areas of the city, drunks have a penchant for forgetting social-distancing rules. NADA would have brought in thousands of dealers and vendors, many of whom would be engaged in frequent bouts of close-range talking between beers. That’s to say nothing of the forbidden romantic entanglements (cheating) your author is just going to assume happens.

(Read More…)

By on October 9, 2020

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With so many individuals still working remotely to combat The Dreaded Coronavirus™ from spreading, there have to be thousands of pools on when employees will finally be allowed to return to their cobweb-filled offices. But they have to be getting pretty boring because its hard to imagine anybody confidently putting their money down on late 2021 when this whole thing started in February and the press still thought it wouldn’t be a big deal. The narrative has definitely changed since then and continued social distancing has become a popular solution among businesses, even as state-sanctioned lockdown protocols decline after a few were ruled to be unconstitutional.

On Thursday, Ford decided to keep most of its salaried employees at home until at least June of 2021. That’s eight more months of not going into the office and matches the timetable General Motors issued a few weeks ago.

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By on October 7, 2020

Bugatti ChironThere have been some turbulent times at Bugatti in the second half of 2020. In addition to wearing a For Sale sign over at Volkswagen’s headquarters, the company is discovering that The Current Year just might not be the best time to create a new and super-exclusive hypercar. So it isn’t.

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By on October 5, 2020

North America has changed immensely under the pandemic. The government tested what it could get away with under the premise of health-and-safety-related lockdowns; countless small businesses have gone belly up while larger entities seem to be thriving. Meanwhile, we’ve been informed that nature is returning to urban environments as humanity forced itself to stay indoors. Waters cleared, the air was purified, and animals ventured deeper into our territories while we sheltered in place. It was if Homo Sapiens had finally been demolished, providing Mother Earth a prime opportunity to patch herself up.

For a time, there was even a period where you could enjoy open, nearly enforcement-free roadways. Some cities, including mine, saw traffic declines in excess of 40 percent during the opening weeks of the virus response. While this ended when New York City brought in those temporary (and wildly unpopular) quarantine checkpoints at major crossings and attempted to open up for commerce, it still seems like far fewer individuals are driving overall.

That’s because there are. People just don’t need to venture out of their homes as much in 2020 and it is not just the lockdowns contributing to this change. Ordering items online has played a major factor, as does the increased reliance on at-home entertainment. In fact, a new study has suggested Americans may never drive as much as they did just a decade ago. This seems especially likely with so many companies encouraging office-based employees to continue working from home indefinitely, flushing millions of daily commutes down the proverbial toilet.

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By on September 21, 2020

Whiter at NAIAS. Credit: NAIAS

The North American International Auto Show, aka the Detroit Auto Show, is moving. Again.

It never even had a chance to take place in summer, due to COVID. Now, it will be moving to September.

That’s right – assuming the pandemic is under control enough to allow for large gatherings by then, the NAIAS will take place just over one year from now, starting on September 28, 2021. The show will conclude on October 9.

(Read More…)

By on September 16, 2020

Not that people have any leftover hope of enjoying what was once considered a normal life, but the Canadian International AutoShow (CIAS) is moving entirely online for 2021. It’s French Canadian equivalent Salon International de l’Auto de Montréal (MIAS) has also been relegated to the digital world as a way to kick off another year of absolutely nothing happening.

Obviously, this is being done to protect the world from itself and ensure the country remains on the mend indefinitely. But some provinces are said to be easing lockdown restrictions and reopening schools, suggesting the world may not be a practical joke played entirely at our collective expense. There’s a palpable fear among event organizers, however, especially if theirs happens to be indoors and include words like “international” in the title. Nobody wants to be the person who relaunched COVID-19 around the world, even if contagion rates have dropped and hospitals have better ways of treating the virus.

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By on August 31, 2020

We’ve documented Nissan’s troubles for some time, breaking the situation down into numerous articles expanding upon the various elements that left the brand proclaiming this year’s financial performance will mirror 2019’s lackluster showing months ahead of the latter period’s scheduled reporting.

Everything seemed to go wrong for the company, forcing it to embrace aggressive cost-cutting measures to say afloat. U.S. sales were particularly horrendous going into the pandemic, which only added to the mounting list of hardships. Nissan is now predicting 2020 will be one of the worst financial periods in its history.

However, CEO Makoto Uchida predicts 2021 will be the point where the company finally turns a corner and begins its ascent toward sustained profitability. In fact, he believes that, with a little luck, the rebound might even begin in Q4 of this year. But that unbridled optimism is being tempered by COVID-19. Uchida worries the dreaded “second wave” could forestall Nissan’s recovery by several months. (Read More…)

By on August 26, 2020

General Motors and Ford Motor Company are about to conclude their prolonged stint of ventilator production. In case you were unaware, these businesses typically manufacturer automobiles (cars, for the layperson) and have allocated a portion of their factory space to build medical equipment that was assumed to be useful during the pandemic. However, the United States now has more ventilators than it knows what to do with, and most of them seem like they won’t be required — so it’s mission accomplished, unless COVID-19 suddenly becomes a much more vicious illness.

Either way, GM and Ford both plan to re-prioritize vehicle production. The Blue Oval moved core staff off ventilator lines and back to their normal places of assembly months ago. Some of the remaining temporary workers hired to assist with the medical equipment are said to have an opportunity building the new Ford Bronco. Meanwhile, GM says it wants to move ventilator production to a facility in Kokomo, Indiana, next month, where it will hand operations over to Ventec Life Systems as it regains the union employs allocated for the project. Temporary hires will be absorbed by Ventec. (Read More…)

By on August 24, 2020

AutoNation’s collision parts division is scheduled to be eliminated by the end of 2020, freeing up some cash after the two-year endeavor proved less than profitable.

Former CEO Cheryl Miller had made it clear that one of her main goals for the company was to ramp up services in an attempt to enhance revenue and diversify the business. But this tactic has proven perilous for the automotive industry at large, often offsetting opportunities to make money with sizable financial risks.

Mobility is probably the best example of this, as its broad enough to encompass everything from self-driving vehicles to subscription models and relies on the market maturing into something that will presumably see returns on investment years down the line. However, AutoNation’s diversification was far more traditional. It seemed like a sure thing, since the collision parts business was forecast to grow over the next five years. In fact, despite being the the largest automotive retailer in the United States, the company actually owes 46 percent of its gross profit to parts and service. Selling cars (both new and used) only accounts for 24 percent — with the rest coming from finance and insurance. (Read More…)

By on August 21, 2020

The 2021 Washington, D.C. Auto Show has been postponed to buy organizers time to prepare for a virus everyone has known about since the start of 2020.

“We believe this scheduling change is in the best interests of our attendees, our partnering auto manufacturers, and the District of Columbia,” Washington, D.C. Auto Show CEO John O’Donnell said in a release on Friday. “Our top priority is to ensure the safety of all involved in this show, and we believe strongly that a two-month delay will better allow us to produce the type of well-rounded and immersive show that our attendees are accustomed to.”

Originally scheduled to open on January 29th, the motor show will now take place between March 26th and April 4th. That’s assuming the event isn’t outright cancelled, anyway. That’s been the trend for automotive trade shows and most major events since we decided “15 Days to Slow the Spread” would just reset at the end of the second week and COVID-19 became Schrödinger’s Virus thanks to some of the least consistent reporting in modern history. (Read More…)

By on August 6, 2020

You’ll be crushed to learn that Ferrari’s SF90 Stradale has been delayed on account of the pandemic.

By nature of being the brand’s very first plug-in hybrid, the SF90 is incredibly complex. The model relies on a trio of electric motors working in tandem with its turbocharged 4.0-liter V8 to achieve a maximum output of 986 horsepower and 590 lb-ft. Electrification also requires the Stradale to have a small, 7.9 kWh lithium-ion battery, regenerative brakes and a totally new 8-speed transmission.

The grocery list of essential (and novel) items turned out to be problematic as supply chains were disrupted the world over by coronavirus-related lockdowns. Originally scheduled for delivery this summer, the SF90 is being pushed back to the end of the year as Ferrari waits for idled supply chains to catch up. The manufacturer admitted that its own shutdowns haven’t helped it get out the door any faster. (Read More…)

By on July 30, 2020

Cox Automotive eliminated around 1,600 jobs this month as it prepared to better embrace online commerce (and nobody having any money). The company axed nearly 300 employees in June after having furloughed over 12,000 people in response to the coronavirus pandemic this spring. A large number of those positions were related to its Manheim auction arm, which suffered the hardest due to stringent lockdown protocols that prohibited public gatherings.

Now it’s talking about improving some of the digital features it added to Autotrader this year and embracing the virtual landscape to future-proof itself while forecasting a 25-percent cut in annual profits, and letting people go  with the majority of the layoffs coming to furloughed Manheim employees. (Read More…)

By on July 29, 2020

While negotiating the terms of its bankruptcy with creditors, Hertz has been informed that it can sell 200,000 would-be rental vehicles to help cover its debts.

According to a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (approved Friday in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Wilmington, DE), Hertz will be allowed to “dispose of at least 182,521 lease vehicles” between now and the end of 2020. Proceeds will then be used to pay off $650 million it owes lenders, with most funds going toward principal payments on financed vehicles.

With the pandemic knocking out manufacturing for months, this is likely welcome news for buyers eyeballing the secondhand market. Dealer lots are light on fresh product at present and times are getting tougher for consumers, making used vehicles all the more appetizing. Even though former rentals have a tenancy to be abused, they typically to go for a bit less than something living a more carefree existence —  and Hertz will be desperate to offload them quickly.

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By on July 24, 2020

Volvo Cars will be unable to reach its global volume target of 800,000 vehicles this year. Considering everything that has — or hasn’t — happened in 2020, any automaker that ends the period moving more metal than they did in 2019 should probably have a statue erected in front of their headquarters celebrating a major industrial achievement.

Volvo sold 705,452 units the last time our Earth went around the sun, forcing it to face the music when considering goals in what CEO Håkan Samuelsson calls the “corona year.”

(Read More…)

By on July 21, 2020

General Motors CEO Mary Barra predicted a brief recession and streamlined economic recovery in a recent interview. Mixed in with favorable coverage of how the company saved Michigan’s Governor Gretchen Whitmer by manufacturing personal protective equipment intended to combat the pandemic, the Detroit Free Press took time out to get Barra’s expert opinion on various subjects.

She mused that a 300-mile range will be the sweet spot for GM’s electric vehicles, noting that the company may eventually offer distances in excess of that with its new Ultium platform, and touted the merits of the Inclusion Advisory Board she recently placed herself at the head of. Things began to get more substantive when she attempted to predict how long the economy would languish as a result of COVID-19 lockdowns (Read More…)

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