Nutson's Auto News Nuggets - A Recap Of Key Automotive News Week Ending April 11, 2020
Covid-19 Affecting Auto World; Rivian Delays Launch; Ford Delays Bronco Sport; Ford GM On War Footing; Research Says EV Will Be More Popular Because Of Virus; Big Problems for UBER and LYFT; Good News and Bad For Autonomous Taxis; F1 Pilot Sir Stirling Moss Makes Final Pass; RIP Car Exec James McLernon
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Nutson's Automotive News Review - Week Ending April 11, 2020; Important or pithy automotive news and back stories in expert-created easy to digest news nuggets.
* Automakers in the U.S. have extended plant shutdowns across the board but now hope to resume U.S. production during the first week of May. These dates will depend upon the coronavirus pandemic being largely brought under control by then.
* The 2020 World Car Awards, originally scheduled to be announced on April 8 at the now postponed New York International Auto Show were streamed online instead. The Kia Telluride took the top World Car of the Year award. Kia also won the World Urban Car category with the battery-powered Soul EV. The Mazda3 compact was named World Car Design. The all-electric Porsche Taycan won two awards, World Luxury Car and World Performance Car.
* Rivian is delaying the production start of its electric truck and SUVs until 2021. The coronavirus has delayed work on both the plant and the vehicles that were planned to be built late this year. Ford, Cox Automotive and Amazon have invested in Rivian. Amazon has placed an order for 100,000 custom electric delivery vans.
* Automotive News reports that the Ford Bronco Sport has been delayed. The Escape-size off-roader will start rolling off assembly lines at Ford's Hermosillo, Mexico, plant on Sept. 7, nearly 60 days after the original July 13 target. We may not see the larger Bronco until the 2021 Chicago Auto Show next February.
* Ford Motor Co. said it has manufactured and shipped more than 1 million clear plastic face shields to hospitals and first responders all over the U.S. The automaker hit the mark Saturday and sent the 1 millionth protective shield to New York City as part of a shipment of more than 30,000 shields. Ford began designing the shields March 19 after getting a request from the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota. It started building masks at a factory in Plymouth on March 23.
* General Motors has been awarded a U.S. government contract worth nearly $490 million to build ventilators amid the coronavirus crisis, the automaker confirmed. The automaker is working with Ventec to build 6,132 ventilators by June 1 and 30,000 by the end of August, said a statement from the Department of Health and Human Services.
* Tesla told workers it is furloughing "non essential" workers, and cutting pay as it aims to relaunch U.S. production on May 4. Pay for vice presidents will be cut by 30%, directors by 20% and other workers will have wages cut by 10%, the company told employees by email. Other automakers have taken similar steps to conserve cash.
* More people are willing to drive an electric car following the positive environmental impact brought about by the coronavirus lockdown, according to Venson. Thanks to the government-enforced lockdowns around the world, life has changed dramatically and 45 percent of those surveyed by Venson Automotive Solutions said that the improvement of air pollution levels worldwide has made them reconsider whether of not they'd own an electric car. A further 17 percent said it backed-up their already-made decision to switch to an EV.
* Shared robo-taxis are taking a hit from COVID-19. Autonomous vehicle startup Nuro is aiming to develop low-speed, driverless delivery vehicles to enable no-touch, no-contact goods delivery. The company got clearance from California to test two driverless vehicles in nine cities, offering low-speed deliveries.
* Following the cancellation of this year’s Geneva International Motor Show, the VW brand show stand can now be visited online. Visitors can experience all the new models of the brand for two weeks round the clock from their own homes at https://www.volkswagen.de/de/specials/geneva- 2020.html. The 360° tour offers an interactive digital experience allowing visitors to immerse into the show. They can stroll across the booth, view vehicles from all sides and also change colors and wheel rim configurations using easy-to-use functions. https://www.theautochannel.com/news/2020/04/09/806812-volkswagen-presents-great-virtual-car-show.html
* Gas prices dropped to a national average of $1.89 this week, down from $2.38 one month ago. AAA reports that the April 9 price was $2.75 last year. A conflux of low demand due to stay-at-home policies aimed at slowing the spread of the coronavirus and a recent crude oil price war between Saudi Arabia and Russia is behind the dramatic drop. Wisconsin currently has the lowest statewide average at $1.39, followed by $1.45 in Oklahoma and $1.51 in Ohio. California, where prices are typically the highest in the continental U.S., is now at a $2.92 average, while Hawaii has the nation’s most expensive gas at $3.31. In some places around the country gas is selling for less than $1.00 a gallon.
* Most all auto insurance companies have announced they will discount insurance premiums for customers because fewer motorists are on the road due to Covid-19. Allstate insurance announced that it will return $600 million. The "shelter-in-place" payback will amount to 15% of the monthly premium in April and May for most. GEICO, State Farm Liberty Mutual, Progressive, Nationwide, and others have announced rebates or credits of 15% to 25%.
* The nation’s uncrowded highway system allowed a white 2019 Audi A8 L sedan with extra fuel tanks to leave the midtown Manhattan Red Ball Garage and arrive in Los Angeles less than 27 hours later, a record for the sprint known as the Cannonball Run. Traffic levels have dropped more than 90 percent in some major cities, and at least 50 percent nearly everywhere. The crew of three averaged more than 100 miles per hour over nearly 3,000 miles of the nation’s epically empty highway system, arriving at the oceanside Portofino Inn in Redondo Beach, Calif. in 26 hours and 38 minutes.
* Fiat Chrysler is recalling 365,000 vehicles to fix a glitch in the rear view camera system. Affected are the 2019-2020 Ram pickups, Chrysler Pacifica, Dodge Durango, and Jeep Grand Cherokee, Wrangler and Renegade. Also included are the 2020 Jeep Gladiator and Cherokee, and 2019 Dodge Challenger.
* The Detroit Grand Prix scheduled for next month has been canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic, organizers announced. The racing doubleheader on Belle Isle was scheduled for May 29-31. IndyCar series owner Roger Penske said he had no choice but to cancel the two races at Belle Isle because Michigan is under a stay-at-home order and workers cannot begin constructing the track. The race will now happen on June 4-6 next year.
* In light of all the pandemic-related cancellations and closures of car events, ClassicCars.com Journal’s East Coast editor Andy Reid has gathered together top car collectors, enthusiasts and concours judges to create something brand new: The Isolation Island Concours d’Elegance. No social distancing will be necessary on the show field and the whole world is eligible to participate in a concours of diecast model cars on Facebook! The Isolation Island Concours will be held every two weeks continuously, with entry deadlines on Thursdays and awards presented the following week on Friday. New and updated class lists will be posted for each bi-weekly concours. Visit the concours Facebook page to enter: https://www.facebook.com/Isolationislandheadjudge/
* British motor racing legend Sir Stirling Moss has died at the age of 90 following a long illness. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest Formula 1 drivers of all time, even though he did not win the World Championship. Moss retired from public life in January 2018 because of ongoing health problems. He won 16 of the 66 F1 races he competed in from 1951 to 1961. He continued to race in historic cars and legends events until the age of 81.
* James McLernon, former VW U.S. president and American Axle chairman, died at 92. The engineer was a general manager at Chevrolet, led VW during its first run at U.S. manufacturing, and helped steer the spinoff of some former GM plants into American Axle.
Stay safe. Be Well.