COVID-19 Automotive Related Closings, Openings, Closings

AutoInformed.com on COVID-19 - Stringency of U.S. Response Lags-

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TOYOTA GAZOO Racing decided not to participate in the 48th edition of the 24 Hours of Nurburgring Endurance Race (“24 Hours of Nurburgring”), which is scheduled to take place September 24 to 27, 2020. Originally set to be held in May, the race was moved to September as a result of COVID-19.

Mazda Continues to Resume Operations: 22 May – All factories in Japan, Ujina Plant No.1, Ujina Plant No.2, Hofu Plant No.1 and Hofu Plant No.2, will be free of suspensions and are expected to operate day-shifts only during June. Mazda de Mexico Vehicle Operation, which stopped operations from April to May, will also resume production in June. The total volume planned for June, combining major production facilities in Japan, Mexico and Thailand that produce vehicles for global markets is expected to be more than double the volumes seen in May.

Rescheduled New York Auto Show Canceled: The Jacob K. Javits Convention Center continues to be closed for all expo business due to its role as a field hospital for COVID-19 cases. Although it currently has no patients, the facility remains set-up as an active hospital and is in standby mode for the foreseeable future. Because of this, organizers of the New York International Auto Show have decided the next Show will take place April 2 – 11, 2021. Press Days are March 31 & April 1. See below for more* 

AutoInformed.com on Failed Re-openings during COVID-19 Plague

Predictable and yet another warning about a deadly disease that is far from understood, let alone curable.

Ford’s Chicago Assembly Plant on the city’s Southeast Side was closed Tuesday 19 May for disinfection because two employees tested positive for COVID-19. That meant it was open for just one day. It reopened Wednesday 20 May with two shifts. Another two weeks – the incubation time – will see how well the workers are protected.

“It is important to note that due to incubation time, we know these employees did not contract COVID-19 while at work. Our protocols are in place to help stop the spread of the virus,” said Kelli Felker, Ford global manufacturing and labor communications manager.

An untold number of Ford employees in contact with Chicago are now in quarantine. Chicago makes the highly profitable – for stockholders who are not at risk – 2020 Ford Explorer, Lincoln Aviator and Police Interceptor SUVs.

Ford started resuming production and operations in the United States on 18 May. The company claims it has implemented safety and care measures globally to help support a safe environment for the company’s workforce, including health assessment measures, personal protective equipment and facility modifications to increase social distancing. There was a slow start of a shift Wednesday evening at the Dearborn Assembly plant, which builds the highly profitable F-150 pickup. It was scheduled to begin a second shift at 6 p.m. The first shift was sent home early to allow deep cleaning. Apparently at least one worker tested COVID-19 positive.

“Tonight, a small group of employees at Dearborn Truck Plant raised concerns after Ford communicated that an employee on an earlier shift had tested positive for COVID-19,” said Felker.

AutoInformed.com on US Unemployment Rate and COVID-19

A new survey from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research finds that strong fear about a second wave of corona virus infections is reinforcing widespread opposition among Americans to re-opening public places. Courtesy Hutchins Center.

BMW Welt will once again be open for all visitors starting 15 May. To mark the reopening, the Double Cone will be illuminated from 10 pm to midnight each evening from May 14 to 24 with a special message: a pulsating heartbeat in light, symbolic of the revival of BMW Welt and a sign of confidence.

“In recent weeks, large parts of public life have come to a complete standstill. We are pleased that life is cautiously starting to return to normal and that we are allowed to open up again for visitors. With our lighting display we want to create a symbol of hope and togetherness during this opening-up phase,” said Helmut Käs, Head of BMW Welt.

Autoinformed.com on BMW Welt

The Double Cone will be illuminated from 10 pm to midnight each evening.

For the time being, BMW Welt will be open daily from 8 am to 8 pm. All the exhibition areas including the public area of the new Junior Campus, the vehicle collection area and the BMW Welt Lifestyle & Accessory Shop will be open to visitors. Catering facilities, including Cooper’s Bistro, the Bavarie and the two-star EssZimmer restaurant, will also be available to visitors from May 25. In the meantime, Cooper’s offers a food and beverage to-go service. 

From May 16, there will be opportunities to test-drive the all-electric MINI SE on the forecourt of BMW Welt Every day between 10 am and midday and between 2 pm and 4 pm, visitors can sit behind the wheel of the fully electric MINI SE and take it for a test drive subject to prior registration and compliance with all hygiene regulations. Registration is completed directly on site.

Bentley Motors on 11 May resumed production at the company’s headquarters in Crewe, England, with  1700 workers following 250 hygiene and social distancing guidelines  to enable a “safe” return. This is the next stage in Bentley’s ‘Come Back Stronger’ program, a phased production ramp up following the biggest changes to working life in the company’s 100-year history. Britain, suffering the second worst COVID death toll, trailing the leader United States, this weekend saw Prime Minister Boris Johnson announce a modest easing of restrictions as part of a road map. But he kept most of the lock-down, a confusing and inconsistent infection of policy and politics in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland – not unlike the chaotic contradictory Trump policies with numerous deadly differences among US states.

Before the restart, last week, workers received a look at the new working patterns, operations and environment during socially distanced briefing and training sessions. They returned to a redesigned manufacturing facility that allows two-meter distance between workers, and one-way movement paths and traffic flows. The washrooms across site have been reconfigured to reduce the number of people being able to use them. Running from today, the Bentayga and Mulsanne production lines will be joined by the return of the Continental GT and Flying Spur line next week.

Nissan is extending production downtime again (7 May) for most of its manufacturing facilities in the U.S. Nissan will continue to evaluate the status of the COVID-19 pandemic, current market demand and supplier readiness before setting a restart date.

Toyota Postpones NA Operations openings until 11 May. In another indication of the chaos created by the Trump Administration’s mis-handling of the Covid plague, Toyota will postpone its scheduled ramp up of its North American manufacturing operations from the week of May 4 to the week of May 11. The decision was made after an “an extensive review with our supplier and logistics network.”

AutoInformed.com on COVID-19

More deaths are coming because of a lack of a national strategy.

“As previously stated, Toyota intends to gradually resume its manufacturing operations in compliance with federal health and safety guidelines, and local and state ordinances where our facilities are located. The health and safety of our employees and stakeholders remain a top priority and we have implemented new protocols at all of our North American manufacturing plants to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19.”

The US Senate opened the first week of May (4th), but not the House, which lacks the necessary testing. The White House, however, has all the testing it needs. Trump keeps asserting, falsely, that plenty of tests are available, among other self-serving whoppers. He said yesterday – 6 May – he is now disbanding the Corona Task Force.

On Monday 4 May 2020, Porsche is restarting production on a site- and task-specific basis. “All the required measures have been taken in advance to guarantee the safety for employees and so that production can be increased in stages up to full capacity,” Porsche claimed in a statement.

Porsche stopped its two factories on 21 March  for two weeks. with bottlenecks in supply chains, they remained closed for six weeks as orderly production was impossible.

AutoInformed.com on COVID Death Toll Caused by Trump Administrations Lack of Actions

Trump’s Failure to Act caused and is causing Preventable Deaths. Opening up the economy any time soon by Trump is self-centered, heartless and unnecessary in the view of a growing number of critics of Republican actions.

Arcimoto suspends electric vehicle production in Oregon today (19 March) of the Fun Utility Vehicle through 17 April 2020. The company will maintain a work-from-home staff for critical operations, including compliance and reporting, research and development, customer service, and deployment of the company’s recently-launched Rapid Responder and Deliverator pilot vehicles to potential fleet operators.

Aston Martin is (24 March) confirming the temporary suspension of all manufacturing operations at its UK plants in line with the latest UK Government instructions on the fight against COVID-19. The suspension will come into force at all sites simultaneously tonight.

Aston Martin has “taken the decision (18 March) to close our facilities to all visitors, so if you were planning a factory tour at Gaydon for example, please contact your Aston Martin Dealer who will confirm when we have re-opened the factory for visitors.  We have also postponed or cancelled our upcoming F1experiences and Art of Living events, if you were planning to join us our team will be in touch in the coming days to confirm next steps…. many Aston Martin dealerships are choosing to cancel face to face appointments.

Bentley Motors will suspend production from today (20 March) at its Crewe, UK, factory headquarters for four weeks. Core business functions will continue throughout the shutdown with colleagues either based in Crewe, following social distancing policies, or working remotely. Production will not start again until 20 April.

Circuit of the Americas  – MotoGP Grand Prix of the Americas will be postponed until November 15  IndyCar canceled its April 26 race in Austin. The Formula 1 race scheduled for October may not occur.

Cool Cars for Kids Cancels Philadelphia Concours D’Elegance saying due to the COVID-19 pandemic its annual fundraising event – the upcoming Fourth Annual Philadelphia Concours d’Elegance on 24-25 April 2020 – is canceled.

Cooper Tire & Rubber Company (NYSE: CTB) on 13 May  announced that Cooper Tire Europe plans to begin the process of reopening its manufacturing plant in Melksham, England, in the first half of June, and expects to be producing tires there by June 15. The facility, which primarily manufactures motorcycle and racing tires, has been temporarily closed since late March due to coronavirus and its impacts.

Cooper Tire & Rubber Company  on 23 April announced that its manufacturing plants in the United States and Serbia will begin the process of reopening and ramping up production next week. The facilities have been temporarily closed for approximately five weeks due to coronavirus and its impacts.

Copper also announced that the federal government is requiring Cooper to temporarily close its Mexican plant beginning 28 April. Cooper had reopened its Mexico plant on 13 April after it had been closed due to coronavirus and its impacts. U.S. plant locations include Findlay, Ohio, Clarksdale and Tupelo, Mississippi and Texarkana, Arkansas. Cooper’s plant in Serbia is located in Kruševac. The company’s plant in Melksham, England remains temporarily closed.

Cooper claims that it has put in place return to work procedures that include required employee disclosures, increased cleaning and disinfecting of equipment, social distancing and physical barriers, visitor restrictions, and other measures. Similar procedures have been effective at Cooper’s two plants in China, which reopened and began ramping up production in mid-February.

Cooper Tire & Rubber Company (NYSE:CTB) announced on Friday 21 March that it will shut down its manufacturing facilities in the United States and Mexico to protect the health and safety of employees and respond to market demand that has been declining by the coronavirus pandemic as the U.S. heads into a recession.

Cooper subsequently announced plants in the United States, that is Findlay, Ohio; Clarksdale and Tupelo, Mississippi; and Texarkana, Arkansas, will remain temporarily closed for at least another two weeks. Cooper plants in Europe also continue to be closed. The company’s plants in China continue to operate? Cooper plans to restart operations at its tire plant in El Salto, Mexico beginning April 13.  Measures to protect the health and safety of employees, including social distancing, additional cleaning and disinfecting of facilities, restricted visitor access and other necessary steps will be in effect as employees return to work.

Announcement of the El Salto plant’s temporary closure due to coronavirus impacts was made March 21.

Daimler Group suspended the majority of its production in Europe, as well as work in selected administrative departments, for an initial period of two weeks on 17 March. An extension of this halt will depend on further developments. Wherever operations need to be continued, the company will take appropriate precautions to prevent the infection of its employees.  The suspension applies to Daimler’s car, van and commercial vehicle plants in Europe.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V. (NYSE: FCAU / MTA: FCA) (“FCA”) announced that its subsidiaries FCA Italy and Maserati will temporarily suspend production across the majority of their European manufacturing plants. The updated production plan will temporarily close the following facilities with effect for the month of March:

  • Italy: Melfi, G. Vico (Pomigliano), Cassino, Mirafiori Carrozzerie, Grugliasco, and Modena.
  • Serbia: Kragujevac.
  • Poland: Tychy.
  • Ferrari stops production in Maranello And Modena.

Ford North America: “In light of various governments’ orders to stay and work from home, Ford is not planning to restart our plants in the U.S., Canada and Mexico on Monday, March 30 as originally hoped.” Statement 24 March.

Ford Stops Production in India, South Africa, Thailand and Vietnam – its International Markets Group (IMG) manufacturing sites in response to the growing impact of the coronavirus. It did not say if workers will be paid in these low-wage areas. (23 March)

Ford Suspends European Production:

  • Vehicle and engine production suspended at Ford’s main manufacturing sites in continental Europe from Thursday 19 March.
  • Temporary suspension of production expected to last for a number of weeks depending on pandemic situation, national restrictions, supplier constraints and dealer stock requirements
  • Action taken as national governments restrict all but essential travel and personal contact, and with vehicle sales and component suppliers affected across the continent

The 2019/2020 ABB FIA Formula E Championship has been officially suspended since 13th March 2020.

Goodwood is postponing (26 March) the Festival of Speed to later this year from its original July 9-12 and is currently exploring potential alternative dates for late summer or early autumn. Tickets already purchased for this year’s event will remain valid for the new date.

The 25th Anniversary edition of the Greenwich Concours d’Elegance has been canceled due to corona virus health concerns, Hagerty announced today 16 March. Anyone who has purchased a ticket to the 2020 event, originally scheduled for May 30-31 at Roger Sherman Baldwin Park, will receive a full refund through Showclix.com within 7-10 business days.

AutiInformed.com on Public Health Theats from sports

Duh…

IndyCar and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway:“Our priority is to still run the 104th Indianapolis 500 as scheduled on May 24.” (slim chance tone-deaf IndyCar – editor)

“This continues to be a dynamic situation which we are monitoring constantly in coordination with federal, state, local and public health officials. We are planning for all contingencies and will be prepared to run the GMR Grand Prix and Indy 500 as the COVID-19 situation permits.”

Lexus Design Event – Senses Electrified – at 2020 Milan Design Week along with Milan Design have been cancelled as of 14 April. The 2020 Lexus Design Award Grand Prix winner announcement, which had been scheduled for the same time, will be held separately at a date to be announced once details are confirmed.

Maserati says its Brand relaunch event “MMXX: The Way Forward”, originally planned for May 2020, has been postponed to September in light of the current situation. As previously stated, the event will be held in Modena and will inaugurate the Brand’s new Era.

NASCAR is “postponing” the scheduled events on May 8-9 at Martinsville Speedway. DAYTONA BEACH, FL (17 April  2020)  “Our intention remains to run all 36 races, with a potential return to racing without fans in attendance in May at a date and location to be determined (place your bets -editor). The health and safety of our competitors, employees, fans, and the communities in which we run continues to be our top priority. We will continue to consult with health experts and local, state and federal officials as we assess future scheduling options.”

Nissan is further extending production downtime at all of its U.S. manufacturing facilities until at least mid-May. (It’s now “indefinitely” as of 7 May) Some business-essential work that must be done on site will continue with so-called enhanced safety measures. “We will continue to monitor the situation closely and make adjustments as needed,” Nissan said in an e-statement on Thursday 16 April 2020.

Nissan manufacturing facilities in the U.S. will remain closed through late April – since extended see above – as a measure to help protect employees and reduce the spread of COVID-19 coronavirus, the company said today, 1 April, after the markets closed. Nissan said on 18 March that it will temporarily suspend production of its manufacturing facilities in the U.S. starting March 20 through April 6. “The company is taking this action to boost containment efforts where possible around the COVID-19 coronavirus. Currently, there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 coronavirus at any Nissan facility. Areas deemed business-essential will operate with enhanced safety measures.” (Nissan on 18 March announced that it will temporarily suspend production of its manufacturing facilities in the U.S. starting March 20 through April 6.)

* New York Auto Show 21 May: “Since the beginning of this pandemic, we have worked closely with the Governor’s office and with Javits officials to protect our attendees,” said Mark Schienberg, president of the Greater New York Automobile Dealers Association, the organization that owns and operates the New York Auto Show.

“We also understand the immense planning needed for the automakers and their exhibit partners to construct a show of this magnitude. Because of the uncertainty caused by the virus, we feel it would not be prudent to continue with the 2020 Show and instead are preparing for an even greater 2021.”

In 2019, 72% of New York Auto Show attendees said they will buy or lease a new vehicle in the next 12 months, and 36% of them added brands to their consideration lists after visiting the Show.  Whether this remains true after the post COVID plague – whenever or if that occurs, given the failed national response that is encouraging the re-opening of states with rising infection rates – is an open question.  The New York International Auto Show is America’s first and claims to be largest-attended auto show. The Show opened its doors in November 1900.

The North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) announced today (29 March) that it is canceling the June 2020 show in Detroit because of the global corona virus (COVID-19) pandemic. The Federal Emergency Management Agency will likely convert the Convention Hall (TCF Center) into a field hospital for an unknown period of time.

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.

Renault’s Board of Directors is postponing (25 March) the Annual General Meeting of shareholders scheduled for 24 April 2020 to a future date in May or June.

AutoInformed.com on delayed Salon Prive' until late September

The 2019 sans COVID Salon Privé edition.

Salon Privé new announced 2020 dates (17 April ) moves the 2020 edition back 3 weeks, with the event now taking place (maybe – editor) from Wednesday 23rd to Saturday 26 September. “The event’s success depends upon a number of parameters, with public safety and confidence remaining a prerequisite; we therefore believe this is a sensible response to the data we all have before us at the time of writing,” said the Directors of Salon Privé. In 2019, Salon Privé showed more than 2,100 classic, super and hyper cars to ~25,000 guests over 4 days in early-September 2020.

Postponed: Toyota intends to gradually resume its North American manufacturing operations beginning the week of May 4, in compliance with federal health and safety guidelines, and local and state ordinances where our facilities are located. “We have implemented new protocols at all of our North American manufacturing plants to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19. We will continue to follow all safety guidelines and monitor vehicle demand as we carefully ramp up production,” Toyota said in a statement on 23 April.

Volkswagen has decided to postpone the Annual General Meeting of Shareholders for fiscal year 2019 due to the spread of coronavirus and the measures in connection with containing the virus. Group CFO Frank Witter said: “The health of our shareholders, employees and service providers has top priority. For that reason, we will be arranging a new date for the Annual General Meeting originally scheduled for May 7.” The precise date and procedure for the Annual General Meeting 2020 of Volkswagen AG will be announced in due course, depending on further developments in the wave of infection.

About Kenneth Zino

Ken Zino is an auto industry veteran with global experience in print, broadcast and electronic media. He has auto testing, marketing, public relations and communications expertise garnered while working in Asia, Europe and the U.S.
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3 Responses to COVID-19 Automotive Related Closings, Openings, Closings

  1. Rory Gamble UAW says:

    “At this point in time, the UAW does not believe the scientific data is conclusive that it is safe to have our members back in the workplace,” said UAW President Rory Gamble in a statement Thursday 23 April. “We have not done enough testing to really understand the threat our members face.”

  2. The economic pain ushered in by the pandemic is extraordinary. The recent employment report underscores the unprecedented speed and ferocity with which jobs have been affected by this public health crisis. Social distancing and quarantine are essential health policy measures, but costly. It is important that the sacrifices and progress made so far not be undone. This requires that health policy measures limit the risk of second waves of the pandemic, to the extent possible,” says Eric Rosengren, President of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.

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