COVID-19 Automotive Related Closings – updated daily on Making the US Great Again by Leading the World in COVID-19 Cases

The US curve is not flattening.

Postponement of The Peugeot Shareholders’ General Meeting. The Managing Board of Peugeot S.A., in agreement with the Supervisory Board, has decided to postpone the Annual Shareholders’ General Meeting, initially scheduled on 14 May to 25 June  2020. A press release will be issued at a later date to explain the arrangements for this Shareholders’ Meeting and the payment of the dividend, considering the ongoing merger project between FCA and Groupe PSA, announced 18 December 2019. Continue reading

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NASCAR Finish Line Tweaked with E-Racing as COVID Thrives on NASCAR E-Racing

The fan base of NASCAR has been severely threatened – medically and economically the lack of US preparedness and actions. Click to Enlarge the simulation.

NASCAR today announced a series of new fantasy and prop betting offerings on the eNASCAR Pro Invitational Series, created by NASCAR’s gaming partner, Penn Interactive. Given the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, crowds aren’t returning to public spaces anytime soon despite the happy-talk of the Trump Administration.

In February when NASCAR was still in deep denial about the gravity of the Corona crisis, it and Penn Interactive announced a new multi-year partnership that led to the creation of a brand new, free-to-play, mobile game dubbed NASCAR Finish Line. It offered users the chance to win a $50,000 jackpot every race. Now, today in absence of real racing, the app is being relaunched to include eNASCAR contests. (NASCAR Still Racing So Far, Buffers and Restrictions Added, NASCAR Bans Fans at Races, NASCAR Ends Denial of COVID-19 Pandemic, eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series to Bootup) Continue reading

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US Trade Deficit $39.9 Billion in February on the US Trade Deficit in February 2020

The smaller the trade deficit, the bigger the trouble we are in because of our lack of preparedness for COVID-19. Click to Enlarge.

The nation’s international trade deficit in goods and services decreased to $39.9 billion in February from $45.5 billion in January (revised of course), as imports decreased more than exports as the economy slowed down and consumers cut buying. However, Census doesn’t  have sufficient statistical* evidence to conclude that the actual change is different from zero.

March, given an economy in free-fall, will see a bigger decrease in the deficit, but that’s not good news. Roughly two-thirds of the US economy comes from consumer spending. Yesterday, the Labor Department reported that a record number of 6.6 million people applied for unemployment last week. During the last two weeks more than 10 million people in the US were out of work. That should take your breathe away – sadly, like Corona virus. 
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NASCAR Delays NextGen Car Until 2022. So Far on eNASCAR iRacing Simulation

It sure looks like racing – except for no smell or the roar of the crowd.

NASCAR, slow to understand the corona virus threat, just like the governor of Florida where it is based has changed the course of its racing once again. It said: “Due to challenges related to the coronavirus pandemic, the debut of the Next Gen car will be delayed until 2022. The decision was made in collaboration with the OEMs and team owners.” So E-racing it is.
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GM and Honda to Jointly Develop Honda Electric Vehicles on GM's electric vehicle technologies

General Motors Chairman and CEO Mary Barra on 4 March 2020 detailing GM’s electric vehicle technologies and upcoming products in the Design Dome, GM Tech Center Warren, Michigan.

General Motors and Honda have agreed to jointly develop two all-new electric vehicles for Honda, based on GM’s highly global EV platform powered by proprietary Ultium batteries. The exteriors and interiors of the new EVs will be exclusively designed by Honda, and the platform “will be engineered to support Honda’s driving character.” (GM Shows New Batteries and a Flexible Global EV Platform, Honda, GM Expand Cooperation for Next Gen Battery)

As part of the agreement, Honda will incorporate GM’s OnStar safety and security services into the two EVs, integrating them with HondaLink. Additionally, Honda plans to make GM’s hands-free advanced driver-assist technology available.
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Recapturing Lease Customers Critical J.D. Power Finds

New-vehicle leases accounted for 31% of the new retail vehicle market in 2019, while lease transactions this year account for 52% of captive lenders’ new retail business. These percentages indicate how important it is for dealers and lenders to work together to retain lease customers as the market heads into a downturn thinks J.D. Power. AutoInformed says it’s a great time to be a lease holder. Don’t like the residual price? Walk away. Want a new lease? Aggressively negotiate and/or change brands.

According to the J.D. Power 2020 U.S. End of Lease Satisfaction Study, released today, effective communication and marketing efforts that factor in key decision-making timeframes can play a significant role in improving lease retention rates.
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Only 34% of Jobs in US Can Be Done Remotely on US Unpreparedness for COVID-19

The virus is now spreading more rapidly in the US than Europe or Asia because of the slow response from many American political leaders. They have blood on their partisan hands. Click to Enlarge.

A new study from the University of Chicago find that only 34% of U.S. jobs could be performed at home. Using average hourly wages by occupation and assuming that all occupations involve the same hours of work, Jonathan Dingel and Brent Neiman determine that these jobs account for 44% all wages. It’s an important supplement to the growing body of COVID-19 research and the total unpreparedness – still only partially resolved – of the Federal and State Governments to provide for the health and security of our people.

“Our estimate is an upper bound on what might be feasible and greatly exceeds the share of jobs that in fact have been performed entirely at home in recent years,” they say. Jonathan Dingel and Brent Neiman conclude that identifying which jobs cannot be performed from home could help to target social insurance payments to those who need them the most.
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Volkswagen of America’s Q1 Sales Drop -13%. March Off -42%

Volkswagen of America’s Q1 2020 sales fell 13 % to ~75,000.  March sales were down 42% due to pandemic crisis. Volkswagen observed that total Jan-Feb sales were up 9.4% and the Atlas sales were up sales up 15%. In fact, SUV share of sales -Atlas and Tiguan – in Q1 2020 were 50% of the 75,075 deliveries reported. 

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UAW Pressure: Ford Further Postpones NA Production Restart

AutoInformed on the COVID-19 Pandemic

Ford Motor can build other things than big trucks.

Ford is delaying its planned restart – announced less than one-week ago – of certain North America plants to help protect its workers. (Ford to Restart Production at North American Plants?)

In a duh statement Ford admitted: “Ford and autoworkers’ unions – especially the UAW – are working closely on initiatives to keep the workforce safe, including upgrading social distancing guidelines, requiring the workers to self-certify daily that they are not experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms – and more.”
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FCA US Reports Q1 Sales Drop -10% on Q1 sales as COVID-19 runs unchecked

So far trucks are relatively immune to COVID-19.

FCA US reported a 10% decline in its first-quarter sales as the positive momentum in January and February was more than offset by the country’s unpreparedness for the ongoing coronavirus that is still running rampant. For the quarter, U.S. sales were 446,768 vehicles compared with 498,425 for the same period a year earlier. Retail sales were 306,898 vehicles for the quarter. Fleet accounted for 31% of total sales.

For a real indicator of things to come, it will take another couple of months. One harbinger is worrisome – Fiat sales dropped 49% from a tiny base to 1128; More relevant is Dodge sales declining -20% to 88,657 for the month of March; Overall as stated, FCA monthly sales declined to 446,768 or -10%.
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GM First-Quarter U.S. Sales Drop -7% to 618,335

General Motors (NYSE: GM) announced today that it delivered 618,335 vehicles in the first quarter of 2020, a decrease of about -7% compared to a year ago. That number included 3820 new Corvettes, a drop of (-3.8%) compared to Q1 a year ago. The industry experienced significant declines in March due to the outbreak of COVID-19. FCA US reported a 10% decline in its first-quarter sales as the strong momentum in January and February was more than offset by the negative economic impact of the coronavirus in March. GM stock was trading at $19.96 per share in early trading. The yearly range is $14.33 – 41.90. Inventory at the end of the Q1 was 668,443 units, down about 18% from a year ago.

President Trump admitted yesterday that the US is looking at a painful two weeks of deaths from the COVID-19 virus. Public health experts have been less optimistic. The GM announcement comes as all of the Detroit Three have postponed resumption of vehicle production due in part to the UAW demanding safe work spaces. Unbelievable that there are still states without shelter-in-place orders.
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Data Point: 2020 Census Paid Temporary Workers Released on COVID-19 in the US

Click to Enlarge. Do nothing to increase the size of the problem.

The U.S. Census Bureau today released the total number of 2020 Census paid temporary workers that earned any pay between March 15-21, 2020. The data tables include national totals for all 50 states and the District of Columbia by Census Bureau regional geography. A weekly number of paid temporary workers for Puerto Rico is also available.

The weekly release will occur 10 days after the end of the weekly period. Many questions remain about how the $2 trillion welfare plan passed by the Congress will be distributed. Data will help sorting out the mess created by the US’s unpreparedness for what is now a Global Pandemic with the US a leader in cases, illnesses and deaths.

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COVID-19 Disrupts the Mobility Industry on Connected Cars and Privacy Issues

A Ford partnership program gives mayors access to driver generated traffic data, allowing them to make planning and investment decisions as autonomous mobility arrives in their cities.

So called disruptive technology companies are – ironically – subject themselves to disruptions. Zahra Bahrani Fard Transportation Systems Analyst at the respected Center for Automotive Research notes that Coronavirus is hitting high-density urban areas with a ferocity completely unexpected.

“Many cities around the world are currently experiencing lockdowns and ‘shelter at home’ executive orders that have slowed the pace of urban life. Mobility is one of the industries that is being hit directly by the new pandemic in multiple aspects,” Bahrani Fard says.
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Jeep Renegade and Compass 4xe Ready for Euro Orders on Jeep COVID-19 Marketing

Given a difficult situation, showrooms are open to potential customers via Google Hangouts Meet app.

Marketing has been shifted during the COVID-19 pandemic as is made clear by FCA’s challenges of introducing new Jeep Renegade and Compass models in Europe.

A dedicated web platform giving early shoppers in some European markets the first chance to pre-order the exclusive Jeep Renegade and Compass 4xe First Edition – until 30 April, has proved “a resounding success. Now, the wait is over, and the Jeep brand has given the green light for full orders to be made,” says FCA. Continue reading

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RumbleOn Posts 2019 Loss. Cancels Guidance on RumbleOn

Click to Enlarge. Losses are below.

RumbleOn, Inc. (NASDAQ:RMBL), an e-commerce company, today announced operating results for the year ending 31 December  2019. The Company also provided a business update in response to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Furthermore, given the uncertainty resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, RumbleOn is withdrawing its prior 2020 financial guidance. It’s currently trading at $0.26 a share down from a 52-week high of $5.69. At 26 cents it’s overvalued in AutoInformed’s view.

Theories in business and science are often elegant, but they are subject to correction or questioning by data. The e-commerce RumbleOn touts using innovative technology to simplify how dealers and consumers buy, sell, trade or finance pre-owned vehicles. As such, it’s one of a growing number of companies that are catching analysts’ enthusiasm because they are “disruptive” to the ruling business order. Well, so is COVID-19, which is ideologically atheistic about class, party, economic theories and Wall Street. Continue reading

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Audi A6 Hybrid Vehicles Recalled for Short Circuits, Fires on Audi Hybrid Fires - Recall

Audi was the first premium brand to develop an extended-wheelbase car with a larger back seat for the Chinese Market, the A6l. Both it and an A4l are produced in Northern China with FAW.

Volkswagen Group of America is recalling 5,471 2019-2020 Audi A6 vehicles equipped with mild-hybrid technology and 2.0TFSI engines. Moisture may enter the starter generator – the inverter inside the belt starter generator is coated with a plastic molding – and cause an electrical short circuit leading to smoldering and a fire.

A fire in a railway container in China last December with 2 new Audi vehicles started a chain of events that lead to this global recall. Audi investigations with Valeo the supplier on the  root cause, possible contributing factors and affected production period ensued.
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