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Nutson's Auto News Digest - Week Ending March 21, 2020


Corona-virus Takes Center-stage This Week


AUTO CENTRAL CHICAGO - March 22, 2020; Every Sunday Executive Producer Larry Nutson and Chicago Car Guy with help from senior editor Thom Cannell from The Auto Channel Michigan Bureau, compile The Auto Channel's "take" on this past week's automotive news, condensed into easy to digest news Nuggets.

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Nutson's Automotive News Review - Week Ending March 21, 2020; Important or pithy automotive news and back stories in expert-created easy to digest news nuggets.

* The Detroit Three automakers and the United Auto Workers union set up a high level task force - including the CEOs of General Motors, Fiat Chrysler and Ford as well as Ford Chairman Bill Ford - to coordinate production plans and safety measures. As an outcome, all three auto makers are stopping production and closing their plants until March 30. This affects about 150,000 workers. Honda, Toyota, Mercedes, Subaru, Volvo, and VW all are shutting down too. And, supplier shut downs will cause part shortages which will grind everything to a halt.

* Tesla continued to build Model Y and other vehicles in spite of authorities in Alameda County, where the Tesla plant is located, wanting the company to stop production and comply fully with a lockdown order. Elon Musk finally relented when the sheriff showed up at his door and stopped production.

* In Europe, Fiat Chrysler, Volkswagen, Toyota, Ford and Hyundai are all shutting down production to protect staff and account for slumping demand.

* Similar to what took place in WWII, GM and Ford are weighing to produce medical equipment. With the hopes to increase ventilator production, a GM manufacturing team is trying to help Ventec Life Systems work out capacity increases.

* Due to Covid-19, Ford, Hyundai, Nissan, Toyota are among the car company finance arms offering payment relief and repayment programs, with larger lenders like Wells Fargo Auto and Ally Financial following suit.

* NHTSA is finally moving to standardize federal safety rules for driverless vehicles. The agency issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking asking for input on some suggested mandates for autonomous vehicles that could give automakers some freedom. The rules are for autonomous vehicles without “traditional manual controls,” such as a steering wheel, outside mirrors, windshield wipers, or gas and brake pedals.

* Instead of flying a large cadre of auto journalist to Hollywood to watch and report on the global reveal of the new 2021 Hyundai Elantra sedan a livestream webcast was the substitute. The originally planned media event was cancelled due to Covid-19. A handful of Hyundai executives and the video production team were the only ones on hand. The event was still splashy and everyone got a good look at the Elantra. Of course seeing it in person is the ultimate way to judge its design. It remains to be seen if this livestream approach may become the new norm. Watch for yourself. HERE For Huyndai , Porsche HERE; The "Virtual" 2020 Geneva Motor Show Proves The Auto Channel's Vision for the Internet

* The City of Chicago Zoning Committee approved an electric vehicle readiness mandate. The ordinance requires all new commercial buildings with 30 or more parking spaces and new residential buildings with five or more units to have at least 20 percent of their parking spaces “Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment-Ready.”

* Volvo is recalling more than 760,000 vehicles worldwide because the automatic emergency braking system may not detect obstacles and stop the vehicle as it is designed. The recall covers certain 2019 and 2020 S60, V60, S90L and V90 models.

* GM has closed the window to order a 2020 Chevrolet Corvette C8, which seems a tad early. In an email sent to Chevy dealers and leaked to Corvette Forum, GM cites high customer demand as the reason for the decision. As of now, dealers are no longer able to create new orders for the 2020 Corvette, and according to the email, some existing orders may not even be built. The six-week UAW strike delayed the launch. Orders for 2021 Corvettes will open in late May.

* The 88th 24 Hours of Le Mans, initially scheduled for 13–14 June, has been postponed until 19–20 September 2020. The Dutch, Spanish and Monaco grands prix have been postponed or cancelled outright, meaning the first seven races of the Formula One season have been affected by coronavirus. The earliest the first race could now take place would be in Azerbaijan on 7 June. In addition, regulation changes set to take place next year have been postponed until 2022.

* One of the nation’s largest and most well-regarded classic car shows, the 2020 Greenwich Concours d’Elegance, has been canceled, the latest in a growing list of automotive functions impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. Originally scheduled to take place during the last weekend in May, the annual Connecticut event is one of the first of the many antique automotive events that dot the U.S. each spring and summer.

* NASCAR has suspended its season until May as part of the CDC’s recommendation to postpone gatherings for the next eight weeks because of the COVID-19 pandemic. It affects seven total races - Atlanta and Homestead had already been postponed. The series plans to return to the track at Martinsville Speedway in Virginia on May 9. NHRA postponed the 51st annual Gatornationals last weekend. The next scheduled event was April 3-5 at Las Vegas but the sanctioning body Monday suspended the season 30 days. NHRA said it intends to resume events April 17-19 in Houston. IndyCar is still planning for the Indy 500 to be run on May 24.

* Ed Garlits, the younger brother of “Big Daddy” Don Garlits has passed away after a long illness battle. Ed Garlits was a fearsome competitor on the drag strip for many years and and built an impressive career resume for himself as well. Ed is in the NHRA Southeastern Division Hall of Fame, the International Drag Racing Hall of Fame, he won top gas at the 1961 AHRA World Finals beating Lefty Mudersbach’s twin engine dragster with his single plant rail.