Ventec Life Systems and GM to Mass Produce Ventilators

AutoInformed.com Ventec Life Systems and GM Partner to Mass Produce Critical Care VentilatorsVentec Life Systems announced today General Motors will build VOCSN critical care ventilators at GM’s Kokomo, Indiana manufacturing facility with FDA-cleared ventilators scheduled to ship as soon as next month. This effort is in addition to Ventec taking aggressive steps to ramp up production at their manufacturing facility in Bothell, Washington. (GM to Provide Logistical Support for Ventilator Production)

Under Trump Administration do-nothing policies that refused until this morning to invoke the Defense Production Act (while criticizing GM? Insiders say that GM was waiting for Government Agency approvals). There are  now and have been global back-orders of critical care ventilators capable of supporting patients fighting COVID-19. Nonetheless in spite of Trump and his courtiers politicizing the pandemic, companies are adding thousands of units of new capacity with a significantly expanded supply chain capable of supporting high-volume production. GM is contributing its resources at cost.
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FCA Expands Coronavirus Relief – 1 Million Meals for Kids

AutoInformed.com on FCA COVID-19 Actions and Reactions

Trump no doubt will attack FCA for its help, just like he did this morning to Mary Barra at GM. Or maybe you have to be a women to get abused by him?

At Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) CEO Mike Manley told employees that FCA is in the process of converting its first plant to produce face masks for donation to first responders and health care workers. The first machinery has been delivered and installed with supply and donation coming on stream in the coming weeks.

FCA said publicly yesterday its plants across the U.S. and Canada, as well as headquarters operations and construction projects, are to remain closed only until 14 April, dependent upon the various states’ stay-in-place orders and the readiness of each facility to return to production. (FCA to Restart of North American Operations?) The UAW is apparently not pleased with the decision that threatens the health and safety of its members. (UAW Balks at Reopening Workplaces)
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Bosch Develops Quicker Test for COVID-19

AutoInformed.com on Bosch Develops Quicker Test for COVID-19

It could speed up the identification and isolation of infected patients.

Bosch claims it has a new, fully automated rapid test for COVID-19 that can help medical facilities such as doctors’ offices, hospitals and laboratories make fast diagnoses. The so-called rapid molecular diagnostic test runs on the Vivalytic analysis device from Bosch Healthcare Solutions.

The newly developed test, which apparently has not been certified yet by a major health or regulatory organization, will be available in Germany starting in April, with other markets in Europe and elsewhere to follow at an unknown time in the future. Bosch’s rapid COVID-19 test is the result of collaboration between the company’s Bosch Healthcare Solutions subsidiary and the Northern Irish medical technology company Randox Laboratories Ltd. Continue reading

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LMC Automotive Now Projects Double the Decline of the Great Recession in Light Vehicle Sales During 2020

AutoInformed.com on Global Sales Forecasts and the COVID-19 Pandemic

The data are ugly, and getting uglier as the virus spreads. Click to Enlarge.

The COVID-19 pandemic, LMC Automotive says will result in a decline in global Light Vehicle sales in 2020 nearly double that of the fall during the Great Recession (between years 2007 and 2009). All markets globally are now struggling from the COVID-19 impact. Worse, there remains significant risk as the situation is extremely dynamic. Further downward revisions in many markets are probable.

LMC currently is forecasting 2020 global Light Vehicle sales to fall below 77 million units, a decline of nearly 14 million units or -15% from the 2019 level. For comparison, global Light Vehicle sales fell 6 million units from 2007-2009 to 64 million units, a two-year decline of 8.7%, or 4.5% CAGR (compounded annualized growth rate).
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Understeer – Indianapolis 500 Pushed Back Until Late August

AutoInformed.com on 2020 Indy 500. (Photo by Scott R. LePage/LAT for Chevy Racing)

The 2019 winner – Simon Pagenaud driving for Penske.

The Indianapolis 500 – aka the Memorial Day Classic – has been rescheduled for Sunday, Aug. 23 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, officials from INDYCAR and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) announced today. The 104th edition of “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” will air live on NBC, with the official green flag time to be announced at a later date.

The GMR Grand Prix moves to Saturday, July 4 (so far) on the IMS road course as part of an historic double-header with the INDYCAR SERIES and NASCAR. This first-of-its-kind racing event also will be televised by NBC on Independence Day.

“I am disappointed that we have had to reschedule the Indianapolis 500,” Roger Penske said. “However, the health and safety of our event participants and spectators is our top priority, and we believe that postponing the event is the responsible decision with the conditions and restrictions we are facing.”  (Pagenaud Driving a Chevrolet for Penske Wins Indy 500)


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FCA to Restart of North American Operations?

AutoInformed.com on FCA restarting manufacturing in the U.S.

A decision in defiance of the data?

FCA says its plants across the U.S. and Canada, as well as headquarters operations and construction projects, are to remain closed only until 14 April, dependent upon the various states’ stay-in-place orders and the readiness of each facility to return to production. The UAW is apparently not pleased with the decision that threatens the health and safety of its members. (UAW Balks at Reopening Workplaces)

Note the irony of an Italian owned company where COVID-19 is raging unabated, assuming a business as usual approach to the global pandemic where the untied sates is now leading in the rate of diagnosis of the virus.
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UAW Balks at Reopening Workplaces

AutoInformed.com on UAW Ford relations

Until testing, tracking and quarantines are in place, reopening plants will cause more infections and deaths.

Just issued by the United Auto Workers union: “The UAW continues to review with great caution and concern decisions being made about restarting workplaces, especially at advanced dates. These decisions should be informed by data and where each state is on the contagion curve.  

The UAW maintains that strict CDC guidelines need to be adhered to at all worksites and that prior to reopening sufficient data and protections are in place to ensure the safety of our members, their families and the public.

“The only guideline in a boardroom should be management asking themselves, “Would I send my family — my own son or daughter — into that plant and be 100% certain they are safe?” – UAW President Rory L. Gamble on Health and Safety Standards Regarding the Reopening of Worksites”

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Goodwood Festival of Speed Postponed

AutoInformed.com on Mario Andretti Was to Be Honored at Goodwood this Year

Mario Andretti.

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.

Plans for the Goodwood Revival will continue to be reviewed, in the hope that the event will be able to go ahead as planned on September 11-13. A new date for the postponed 78th Members’ Meeting is also being reviewed.  In place of this weekend’s postponed meeting, Goodwood Road & Racing will host a live stream this weekend (28-29 March) of a selection of favorite races and demonstrations from GRRC archive. Continue reading

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Ford to Restart Production at North American Plants?

Ford wants to restart production at major plants in North America as early as April 6 by bringing key plants (truck) back online while the company introduces “additional safety measures” to protect returning workers. Since Michigan is currently running out of hospital beds and testing remains limited to non-existent, this is a high risk strategy that could increase the sickness and death tally of the COVID-19 pandemic. The UAW said: “We are reviewing with great concern and caution today’s announcement. Our priority is the health and safety of our members, their families and the American public.” Take your pick – either the UAW disagrees, or they were unaware of the Ford announcement.  Continue reading

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Mercedes-Benz Trucks Replaces Mirrors with Cameras

AutoInformed.com on Mercedes-Benz Actros with MirrorCam

Mercedes-Benz Actros with MirrorCam. By eliminating the classic mirror, full view through the side window is seen. The marked area illustrates the visual gain.

The new Mercedes-Benz Actros eliminates the classic mirror, so a full view through the side window is seen. This is made possible by the so-called MirrorCam system used in place of rearview and wide-angle mirrors that previously covered large areas to the right and left of the A-pillar.  the optimized wind resistance of MirrorCam can result in up to 1.5% less fuel burn.

The advantage is prominent at turns and junctions, when maneuvering and in tight bends. The driver must no longer look as far to the right or left to see traffic to the rear. Mirrors are mounted in a fixed position so that when cornering the driver may lose sight of the end of the semitrailer. In contrast, the MirrorCam swivels the image of the camera mounted toward the inside of the turn, so that the driver always has the end of the trailer in view.
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Toyota Research Institute Launches AI Study of Human Behavior

The Toyota Research Institute (TRI)  in Los Altos is expanding research with the launch of Machine Assisted Cognition (MAC), a new initiative to develop and demonstrate artificial intelligence tools that can understand and predict human behavior in the context of decision making.

Translation: A computer can take control of a vehicle if the driver is doing something dumb. This is an extension of  so-called driver assist systems (intelligent cruise control, pre-crash braking and belt tightening, automatic emergency dialing, lane wandering alerts and such that are already in widespread use in luxury vehicles) and a necessary step on the bumpy road to autonomous vehicles. There also are much broader applications in human enterprises to help people think. Continue reading

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Ford Safety Recalls for Engine Stalling and Doors Opening

Ford Motor Company is issuing two safety recalls for North America and one for Canada only. On 2014-15 Ford Fiesta, 2014-16 Ford Fusion and 2014-16 Lincoln MKZ vehicles the door-latch pawl spring-tab cracks and fails in areas with high ambient temperatures.

A door latch with a fractured pawl spring tab results in a “door will not close” safety defect. If the customer is able to latch the door after repeated attempts, the door may unlatch while driving, increasing the risk of injury.
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Mazda Stops Asian, Japanese and Mexican Production

Mazda Corporate has announced plans (24 March) to suspend production for 13 days and operate daytime-only shifts for eight days at the Hiroshima Plant and Hofu Plant from March 28 to April 30. Mazda intends to transfer part of the production originally scheduled for this period to the second quarter of the fiscal year ending March 2021 or later as it monitors how the situation develops.
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Aston Martin Stops All Manufacturing Operations in UK

Aston Martin is today (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.
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General Motors Draws Down Credit Lines in COVID-19 Fight

General Motors (NYSE:GM)said today that it intends to drawdown approximately $16.0 billion from its revolving credit facilities. GM is also suspending its 2020 guidance due to uncertainty around the business impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This increases GM’s cash position and preserves financial flexibility in light of current uncertainty in global markets resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. The funds will supplement the company’s cash position of approximately $15 billion to $16 billion expected at the end of March. Continue reading

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