By on June 29, 2020

Having already pulverized the dead horse of waning auto sales into a fine paste, we’ll now turn our focus on how it’s impacting employment among automotive retailers — squashing another pony.

Much of the information up until this point has been anecdotal and conditional to the North American response to COVID-19. Furloughs were rampant as the pandemic progressed and new safety rules seemed poised to cripple sales moving forward. There was an obvious general plight confronting automotive retailers, but we couldn’t nail down what that meant in terms of job losses.

We still don’t, frankly. But it is starting to become obvious that there isn’t much reason to be exceptionally optimistic. AutoNation recently announced that around half of the 7,000 workers it furloughed in April won’t be coming back. Despite some retailers claiming not to need such drastic cuts, plenty are following AutoNation’s model. With fewer customers and sweeping restrictions on how showrooms can be operated, there’s little reason for there to be all hands on deck. But just how many will be forced to abandon ship this year?  (Read More…)

By on June 23, 2020

General Motors Renaissance Center

General Motors CEO Mary Barra has appointed a new board to address racism and discrimination that may be lurking within the company. The automaker has taken a vocal stance against racism following widespread protests spurred by the killing of George Floyd and wants to be clear as day that it’s committed to diversity and inclusion. While not the most novel of concepts, as there isn’t a single company taking the counter argument, GM believes it can become the least racist of them all, with a little work.

“The board will guide our work to improve diversity and inclusion in our company, with the ultimate aspiration of making GM the most inclusive company in the world,” Barra wrote Monday in an internal document scooped by Automotive News(Read More…)

By on June 22, 2020

Bavaria-based BMW says it aims to cut roughly 6,000 positions from its lineup on account of coronavirus complications. Times are tough and the manufacturer needs to tighten its belt, just like many of its peers.

The alley-oop that precedes the slam dunking of these jobs into the wastebasket will be tempting retirement packages for those of a certain age. But BMW also said it is interested in offering younger people financial assistance for full-time higher education with a guarantee of a job when they’re done — offering some amount of hope.  (Read More…)

By on June 22, 2020

If the last few months have taught us anything, it’s that you can keep people isolated in their homes without any negative consequences whatsoever.

Sure, we’ve seen articles from scientific journals like The Lancet warning that similar experiments run on a much smaller scale resulted in psychological stress and disorder, including low mood, insomnia, stress, anxiety, anger, general irritability, emotional exhaustion, paranoia, drug abuse, depression and post-traumatic stress symptoms, but where’s the evidence of that happening this time?

Don’t answer that.

Employers the world over are already seeing the benefits of remote work and have begun to consider how to make it a long-term proposition. In addition to protecting companies against any new COVID-19 outbreaks, stay-at-home orders mean paying for less office space and utilities. Automakers are starting to think this is a pretty sweet deal — especially with productivity not having taken much of a hit — and are now considering whether to extend at-home employment indefinitely.  (Read More…)

By on June 17, 2020

Italy is on the cusp of approving a 6.3 billion-euro ($7.1 billion) loan for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA). Suppressed sales stemming from coronavirus lockdowns have encouraged governments around the globe to lend businesses a hand or — more accurately — fists full of money.

Bloomberg claims FCA’s payday will be Europe’s biggest government-backed financing of an automaker since the start of the pandemic, but it’s hardly the only company needing money. General Motors and Ford utilized credit lines to amass billions of dollars for their rainy day funds — and it’s definitely pouring outside. Ford figures it lost roughly $5 billion in operating costs in the three months leading up to June. Meanwhile, Fiat Chrysler estimates it lost $5.5 billion through the first quarter of this year.  (Read More…)

By on June 16, 2020

On Tuesday, Audi announced Volkswagen Group is prepared to buy out minority shareholders. VW announced the plan earlier in the year, setting aside funds to procure the 0.36 percent of Audi it didn’t already own.

“Volkswagen AG announced and specified that it has set the cash settlement to be paid to the minority shareholders in return for the transfer of their shares at 1,551.53 euros per Audi AG share,” the Ingolstadt-based manufacture said in a statement.  (Read More…)

By on June 10, 2020

Executives from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) and PSA Group are reportedly concerned that their companies are in for an extensive probing by the European Commission before their planned merger can take place. Ideally, the duo have said they want to finalize the deal early in 2021, but the prolonged investigative dive may force them to readjust that timeline.

The European Union has historically been a big fan of antitrust investigations and often tries to predict future business actions to address how newly formed organizations might impact the market overall. It’ll be a difficult task, what with automotive sales suppressed by coronavirus lockdowns and the global economy looking particularly grim.

Few are under the impression that the merger will be blocked, however.  (Read More…)

By on June 1, 2020

Mexico is attempting to accelerate parts production to ensure North American automakers have enough components on hand to stay operational. The response to the pandemic saw manufacturing stalled worldwide as governments assessed whether or not we’d soon be living through a plague of biblical proportions. While fate decreed a repeat of the Black Death would not be necessary, untold damage resulted in numerous business sectors.

The automotive industry hardly went unscathed. Lockdowns stopped sales in many markets for months and plunged supply chains into turmoil as OEMs shut down to ensure staff were helping to “flatten the curve.” With the public’s interest shifting rapidly away from coronavirus mandates toward demonstrations about police brutality and racial justice, or simply devolving into riots because people are pretty angry about how poorly 2020 is playing out, suppliers and automakers are gradually moving back to more normal production schedules.

This has been easier said than done. But it is being done, and that’s the important thing.  (Read More…)

By on May 29, 2020

Ghana has banned the importation of cars older than 10 years in a move designed to attract automotive plants. As a major importer of second-hand vehicles, the West African nation is largely dependent upon cars discarded by other nations. However, the country’s leadership wants it to become an automotive hub for at least a healthy chunk of the continent. This is a relatively new yet persistent dream for the nation, and it includes a bizarre roster of characters we don’t quite know what to make of.  (Read More…)

By on May 26, 2020

McLaren says circumstances have encouraged it to get fairly aggressive in its restructuring efforts. Coronavirus lockdowns forced the company, like so many others, to postpone production and forego sales.

While an undesirable scenario for any manufacturer, McLaren Group already faced additional headwinds by being a relatively small manufacturer dependent on low-volume specialty products with astronomical price tags and having its racing program kneecapped the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA).  (Read More…)

By on May 21, 2020

The European Commission is reportedly preparing an economic stimulus package aimed at helping the EU bounce back from economic hardships caused by the coronavirus lockdown — saving some room for incentivized electric vehicle sales.

As you may have noticed in your home country, stimulus package proposals often involve lawmakers attempting to slip something in to aid their favorite causes. While not every nation in the EU feels similarly on all matters, environmentalism has been a reoccurring theme within the union — and has encouraged it to make aggressive decisions when it comes to promoting vehicles.

For decades, the European Union spent billions in subsidies and tax breaks to make diesel fuel cheaper than gasoline. Diesel engines produced less carbon dioxide and opened the door to biofuels, so the presumption was they were better for air pollution. That turned out not to be true, so the continent then pushed hard into subsidizing EVs, with diesel sales crumbling as a result.

Now seen as the only way to save the world from heavy, gas guzzling crossovers that people actually buy in great numbers, battery electric cars are getting their moment in the sun. And it may get a little brighter. The next EU stimulus package is set to include €20 billion ($22 billion USD) for those deciding to purchase an environmentally friendly passenger car.  (Read More…)

By on May 19, 2020

Mexico spent plenty of time discussing the phased reopening of automotive plants last week. The presumption was that the nation would have to establish guidelines for industrial work zones that would allow some to resume production after May 18th, with timing coinciding with U.S. facilities that will be in desperate need of parts and vehicles. However, last minute changes left everyone wildly confused.

On Thursday, the Mexican government said the industrial sector wouldn’t be eligible for reopening until June 1st. The following day, it explained that the date didn’t actually mean much for automotive outfits, adding that companies could reopen at any time if they verified an adherence to new safety protocols. Thanks to another announcement over the weekend, most of the residual confusion has subsidized. Mexican facilities can reopen, provided they have the correct paperwork on file. (Read More…)

By on May 13, 2020

Mexico is considering reopening factories after May 18th, now that automakers and the U.S. government have requested it resume production at plants serving the American market. With supply chains needing time to catch up, vehicle assembly will be precarious until parts can be reliably sourced. And Mexico is an essential part of that industrial recovery plan, necessitating some light coordination with the United States.

Despite seeing a spike in new COVID infections, Mexico released a plan to ease restrictions on Wednesday. Making sure U.S. manufacturers have what they need has been incorporated into that strategy, with a few conditions. While industrial employees will soon head back to work, Mexico made no assurances that it will prioritize supplying the rest of North America with automobiles or their components.  (Read More…)

By on May 11, 2020

Spending the last three months chronicling every every single cancellation related to the coronavirus hasn’t been any more enjoyable than reading about it. And, while we apologize for putting you though that, there honestly isn’t much else to report on when every manufacturer on the planet suddenly enters into a panicked lockdown. Thankfully, we seem to be nearing the end of being forced to issue updates on the latest cancelled soirée you had your hopes set on attending.

Despite automotive trade shows being canceled in Detroit, Geneva, and Paris this year, the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) show scheduled for November is still on. We may also see the New York Auto Show, which was rescheduled, take place in August — assuming the Javits Center remains underutilized for COVID patients through the summer and NYC doesn’t see a sudden spike in infection rates. However, SEMA is the first major event that seems like a sure thing in the automotive realm and, boy, are we glad to hear it.  (Read More…)

By on May 11, 2020

Chinese auto sales grew 4.4 percent last month vs a year earlier, rising to 2.07 million vehicles, according to tabulations released by the government-backed China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM) on Monday. This is actually better than its preliminary assessment suggested, with the new figure helping put an end to a 21-month slump of declining automotive sales.

Unfortunately for the region, it doesn’t seem to be indicative of a full recovery. In its report, CAAM noted that the rebound may be only temporary. Last month’s figures were primarily elevated by commercial vehicles, which saw record growth at 32 percent (year over year). Passenger vehicles also saw their numbers improve from the month prior, but they still down 2.6 percent in April. The improvement is widely seen as the result of backlogged orders that couldn’t be completed during the most prohibitive period of the pandemic, as well as the Chinese Communist Party ordering more work vehicles to stimulate the economy.   (Read More…)

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