COVID-19 Continues to Affect and the Auto Industry

The coronavirus has taken an unprecedented toll on the auto industry. When the virus hit the United States, auto producers were forced to close production centers. After months of minimal production and sales rates, auto producers reopened plants, primarily with a limited number of workers and with safety guidelines including a mask mandate. Concerns are now increasing as many workers are refusing to show up to work due to fears of contracting the virus in close quarters with other workers.

In states where coronavirus cases are climbing, such as Michigan and Missouri, many employees are missing work, causing companies like Ford Motor and Fiat Chrysler to hire temporary workers. General Motors has chosen to reconstruct shifts to aid in solving the issue. The lack of employees showing up to work is due to not only workers staying home who have the virus, but also the vast number of those who fear to return to work. Further, any employee who has been exposed to someone with the virus must stay home for the typical 14-day quarantine period. Industry leaders fear another shutdown and the potentially immobilizing economic outcome of such an occurrence. For this reason, many U.S. based automakers aim to keep their plants running while addressing safety concerns from workers.

Ford and Fiat Chrysler declared the hiring of temporary workers to account for sick and quarantining staff unable to work. Temporary workers are not strangers to the auto industry, as the hiring of fill-ins is common practice for employees out on vacations or leaves of comparable length. Ford has hired more than 1,000 temporary workers to keep its Kentucky plant up and running. Kentucky recently reported its highest number of cases per day. Though temporary hires are on the incline for the auto producer, it could very well be the company’s savior during current uncertainty.

General Motors produces the Chevrolet and GMC midsize pickup in Missouri, but the state’s positivity rate is only increasing. GM has worked hard to rearrange its schedules for staff members to accommodate for people who are out sick or quarantining. Therefore, the company is up to cut number three as they plan to eliminate another shift, which would result in assigning workers to alternate locations. GM urges workers to follow safety protocols, at home and work, seven days a week. The automaker aims to guarantee jobs to its workers. Prioritizing the safety of workers may lower the overall productivity rate, but GM wants its workers to feel safe coming into work each day. Tesla argues that safety protocols at work are prioritizing the health of workers, but they cannot track and mandate employee actions beyond work hours.

If the biggest auto producers in the country decided to shut down factories, primarily located in Michigan, the auto industry would be threatened as a whole. Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer recently remarked that the shutdown of plants would be necessary if residents don’t obey a required mask order. The state’s cases per day have shown an increase.

COVID-19 and the Altered Automotive Industry

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to adversely affect industries nationwide. The auto industry has faced many challenges before, including the 2008 auto industry bailout and wars over oil, but the economic impact of the current pandemic has proved historic. The effects of the virus are reducing the overall production rate of vehicles and, therefore, profit.

Before the pandemic, the vast industry functioned differently. The purchase of a vehicle was an extremely personal experience, often featuring face-to-face interaction between buyer and seller, with standard test-drives and tours. Salespeople would persuade individuals into buying the car they saw best-fit, and the process, from initial conversation to a final handshake, commonly took hours.

The industry was one of those that suffered the most from the pandemic because it was still in a recovery phase from the 2008 recession. The pandemic has disrupted supply chains, including international ones.​ ​The recent decline in sales hit the industry hard, as sales in the United States have not majorly increased in five years. Therefore, experts around the world claim many automotive factories will close. Mass layoffs will follow these closures, and the unemployment increase has the potential to affect the economy.

With a national pandemic still rampant, many have turned to purchase cars online to minimize interpersonal contact. The previously small market has rapidly expanded and developed. The online market has enabled individuals to condense the experience by allowing research, car history reports, and applying for financing to be done online. Individuals can make appointments to test-drive vehicles online and even get an appraisal with the click of a button. Buying a car online has never been easier! Some even prefer the simple, transactional experience, to dealing with salespeople and the commonly elongated conversation.

There are considerations to make when buying a car online. Interested individuals should be certain to request car records and history reports and only purchase from reputable sites. It is also important to stay safe by searching for a company’s sanitation policy.

Timing is a big thing to consider when purchasing a car. Interestingly, now may be a perfect time! Are you fearful of transmission rates on public transportation? We hear you! Additionally, cars are generally priced at the lower-end now due to a slow in profit for the industry at-a-large, and interest rates are historically low. With so many online options available for the car-buying process, don’t let the pandemic stop you from making your next great buy.

Overall, the pandemic’s effects on the auto industry have not all been negative ones. The industry has adapted to provide more options for buying opportunities so that jeopardizing one’s health is not a factor. Who knows? Maybe your next great purchase will be executed from your laptop!

Here’s What to Tell Your Teens When They Take the Wheel

Depending on the state, your teen is probably going to aim for a license around age 16. Watching a child drive a car on their own is a scary thing for any parent, as it signals independence and freedom. Once your child attains a license, though, they may think nothing can harm them. Here is a list of top ten tips to know for new drivers.

  1. Flat Tires: It is important to remind your teen that their car is not invincible. A flat tire is simply part of car ownership. Make sure your teen has an emergency phone number to call, and a tire-replacement knowledge, once they have pulled over.
  2. Accidents: Unfortunately, collisions happen frequently, and new drivers should be aware of the ways to deal with an auto collision if it does occur. Creating an emergency action plan will keep drivers equipped to handle an accident if it should happen.
  3. Cell Phones: Though it should be rudimental and explicit, remind your teen of the dangers of texting while driving. Make sure they know to keep their hands and eyes on the wheel at all times rather than on their cell phone.
  4. Dashboard warning lights: There are many diverse symbols on every dashboard. Your teen should know which lights are more important, such as an engine overheat. Warning lights such as tire pressure may be less urgent.
  5. Different driving conditions: New drivers should know how to drive at night, in the rain, and if in a colder climate, in the snow.
  6. Impaired drivers: Education is key when teaching your teen about impaired drivers. Be sure your teen understands how important it is to not allow a friend to drive impaired or to accept a ride from an intoxicated driver.
  7. Police Officers and Emergency Vehicles: Teens should recognize to pull over if they see flashing lights in their rear-view mirrors. Make sure the car is equipped with valid insurance and licensure, and that the teen is aware to find such items. Additionally, be sure your teen knows to move aside for emergency vehicles.
  8. Repair Shops: All drivers should know how to locate a nearby repair shop just in case something goes wrong.
  9. Aggressive Drivers: Some drivers get angry when they get cut-off or miss a light, but expressing that anger while driving is extremely dangerous. Staying calm in all situations when driving can increase the safety of the drive tremendously.
  10. Getting a new car: Parents are usually involved when teens get their first cars, but they will need to know how to go about buying or leasing new cars down the road. Parents can include drivers in the buying process, so they may be more aware when they need to purchase a vehicle on their own.

Following the above tips ensures your driver will be ready for all situations they may face on the road ahead.

Electrically Rebuilding the Auto Industry

Domestic automakers have already faced an extreme loss of sales in 2020, largely due to COVID-19 and its impact on production. Now, the auto industry has greatly reduced the number of staff members working in factories to ensure the safety of workers, and the number of workers may never climb to the height which it was before the pandemic. The auto industry must come up with a solution to build itself back up.

Notably, the pandemic has worked well for the environment. Surface vehicle emission numbers have decreased by over 20-percent. In order to create jobs and keep harmful emissions numbers down, many professionals in the auto industry are turning to the possibility of producing more electric vehicles.

Currently, even the most affordable electric cars are expensive, costing over $30,000 and can be driven around 120 miles on a single charge. The Green-Car New Deal would focus public investment on creating better, cheaper batteries. The infrastructure of vehicles has been left to the private sector, but they all require some sort of charging device.

The deal would support the placement of chargers in practical locations, making it easier for EV owners to charge up if needed. One of the first steps in the plan calls for making the United States Postal Service’s fleet electric. The deal also pushes the financial support of automakers willing to build electric vehicles. The deal aims to help the United States both economically and environmentally following the trying times of the pandemic.

Is Your iPhone Your Next Car Key?

Apple has recently released data that its new digital “CarKey” will work on the 2021 BMW 5-series first, with other cars coming later. The announcement excited developers and consumers at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference. Apple plans to attract drivers with the feature due to its ease and simplicity.

Instead of carrying an additional item on the daily, drivers will be able to simply grab their iPhones and start their drives. This will come as a function of the new iOS 14 technology.

For the BMW, the setup will take place in the BMW app. The app will allow users to open car doors and start vehicles, operating as a compact version of a car-key. This digital key uses near-field communication technology so that drivers can unlock and start their cars, then place the phone in any section of the car and maintain the ability to drive. Drivers will need to utilize Face ID or Touch ID, just as they do when unlocking their personal iPhone.

Notably, BMW assures drivers that the key will operate for five hours after the phone battery dies, so long road trips with an unexpectedly broken or forgotten charger will not alter the ride. Apple also assured drivers that the ability to disable the CarKey function for certain drivers from the phone is possible. If a phone goes missing, the vehicle’s access can also be disabled. The app simply works as a device on the individual’s iCloud account.

Apple is developing a way to standardize then technology so that it can work with auto-industry groups across the globe. The future of the car key could very well be on mobile phones! Due to its compatibility and simplicity, it provides an exciting alternative to a standard car key

Are People Buying Fewer Cars, and Why?

In April alone, Virginia state tax revenue dropped by almost $37 million. Many wonder if this is a harbinger of a decline in auto sales worldwide.

Honing in on Virginia, on July 1st, state and regional gas taxes are scheduled to increase as part of a transportation funding package. Concerns over the auto industry and economy at-large have only increased as COVID-19 seeps into every facet of the workforce. The steady flow of automobile sales has now stopped. Don Hall, the President of the Automobile Dealers Association in Virginia noted his fear, saying, “Our business is struggling mightily.”

Gasoline taxes and license fees also fell in April nationwide. Notably, Virginia is likely to lose close to $1 billion in revenues by June 30th. People are spending less during the national emergency and consequences can be dire.

Interestingly, while people have stopped buying imported vehicles during the pandemic, they still seem to be buying American-made cars. Some automobile companies are recognizing the financial disparity and are lowering their car prices.

Some claim the reason for the lack of current purchases in the auto industry is that people make better financial decisions during crises such as national emergencies. Unemployment fears plague the general public, and therefore, people spend less. A notable reason for lack of purchase is also a lack of usage. People aren’t prioritizing the purchase of a new automobile when they rarely use it, and COVID-19 forces many people to work from home, only leaving their residences to purchase necessary goods.

After a disaster hits though, people tend to purchase in large amounts. One reason for the phenomenon is that people celebrate the conclusion of a disaster with the installment of the latest technologies that they had not updated for some time. Perhaps it is solely celebratory, or maybe people are updating their lives to prepare for the next possibility of a disaster. Either way, purchases rise, and the auto industry might see an increase in purchases after the COVID-19 pandemic.

The US Auto Industry Revived

Due to COVID-19, most automakers closed their production sites in March. In the middle of May, the US auto industry started to see signs of recovery. After months of halted manufacturing, G.M., Ford, and Fiat Chrysler welcomed back employees with restrictions to ensure a safe work environment.

The month of April reported a 50-percent decline in auto-sales according to Cox Automotive. This negative trend for the auto-industry has now sent tens of thousands of auto-workers back to working on plants across the South and the Midwest United States. Fiat Chrysler stated that it was “pleased” with the restart.

The risk of COVID-19 infection is high for assembly-line workers who spend hours each day working in close quarters. To combat this, the rate at which cars are produced has slowed tremendously, limiting the number of workers needed to produce parts and vehicles. Employees are required to time their arrivals so that they do not interact largely with other workers. Additionally, the “Big Three” automobile producing plants are taking temperatures of workers before they begin work each day. Then, the workers must wear a mask, gloves, and eye protection.

Ford reported workers who tested positive and then paused work six separate times to clean equipment and locate workers who may have come in contact with the infected. These setbacks, though, were expected. Toyota and Honda both paused production briefly as well to disinfect sites after workers tested positive for the virus.

There is an inherent risk of the coronavirus spreading in a highly populated place; the auto industry is taking necessary measures to ensure the safety of workers, but the virus is rampant, and its spread has stalled mass production. Production numbers are relatively small to promote the wellbeing of workers. The tactics currently utilized by the industry act as a trial for the future of not only the auto-industry but factories worldwide.

The reopening of the industry is delicate. Production has begun but slowly. Employees are working, but for shorter shifts. The industry faces many challenges, but with the proper guidelines, the revival of the Auto industry seems steady and certain.

Why the Chevrolet Corvette was Granted North American Car of the Year

The North American Car of the Year is an award granted to the country’s “favorite” vehicle in the middle of January.

The prestigious award is chosen by a panel of 50 jurors who are respected voices from print, online, radio and broadcast media across the United States and Canada. Jurors vote after noting the following categories: segment leadership, innovation, design, safety, handling, driver satisfaction, and value for the dollar.

When discussing the Chevrolet Corvette, auto critic for the Detroit News Henry Payne said, “A mid-engine Corvette was a huge risk for Chevy’s muscle-car icon. They nailed it. Stunning styling, interior, and performance for one-third of the cost of comparable European exotics.”

There were two cars that were selected for the runner up category, which were the Hyundai Sonata and the Toyota Supra. However, the Corvette ultimately won against the competition for two reasons.

  1. Road noise: The car does not exhibit the loud noise that supercar’s generally have. This allows for a peaceful drive so that the only noises in the car are the music you’re blasting and your conversations, not an annoying rumble from below.
  2. Drive: The car drives remarkably well, as technical editor of MotorTrend.com Frank Markus noted, “Behavior on the freeways was remarkable…And best of all, that ride quality didn’t disappear when we put it in Sport and Track modes.”

The layout and gears of the car also won critics over as they applauded the Chevrolet Corvette. The car’s elements signified ingenuity and excellence, so next time you buy or lease a vehicle, considering these factors might land you in North America’s favorite car.

Understanding the Three Main Parts of Your Auto Repair Bill

An auto repair bill can be a scary thing, containing an alarming list of numbers for incomprehensible reasons. When your car breaks down, the last thing you want to worry about is a financial misunderstanding, and acknowledging the three main segments of your bill can make the process clear and seamless. The three main parts of your auto repair bill will be the overhead, labor, and parts.

Overhead 

First, the overhead includes utility bills, rent, and computerized diagnostic equipment. This section will raise the cost of “parts,” and it is included to keep the repair shop running. It is important to recognize that every day a shop operates, it pays bills for a myriad of functions, and this adds a price to the shop serving your needs.

Labor

The technician’s time and effort are rewarded through your labor bill. This will be billed at the shop’s hourly rate.

In general, shops have a book time for the length each task takes to complete so that you can go in knowing how many hours of labor you will be paying for. You will be charged based on the book estimate, even if your technician works quickly.

Parts

This is the most important part of the auto-bill. As previously stated, the overhead is included in this charge, but it contains other elements as well. Sometimes, a repair estimate will give you options as to the type and price of the parts to be installed. Options include:

  1. Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) parts: These are the same as parts installed on the assembly line. They are the most expensive, but notably the best parts that can help keep your warranty intact.
  2. Used or remarketed parts that will probably not flaunt maximum longevity
  3. Aftermarket parts, which are built by outside manufacturers

Fees regarding parts may also include the proper disposal of old parts.

Leasing a car may include warranty coverage on such charges. Overall, newer vehicles are less likely than older ones to break down and demand large bills, but sometimes we all encounter less than optimal situations. Hopefully, understanding charges will allow for a painless auto repair experience.

Tips for Major Gas Savings While on the Road!

Setting intentions for a safe and cautious drive before taking the wheel can not only save lives, but it can also save money. Vehicles take a myriad of different gas types at different consumption speeds, but no matter what you drive, here are some tips to save gas, and therefore money and precious time! No more daily gas station visits for you!

1.     Accelerate slowly: You will make it to work on time! No need to accelerate with all of your might. The harder you press on the accelerator, the faster you will run out of fuel.

2.     Slow down gradually: Braking does not use up gas. Heavy breaking does, however, indicate that you could have let your foot off the accelerator sooner. Additionally, if you do not rush up to a red light, it may turn green before you reach it — allowing you to roll through without stopping or having to accelerate from a standstill.

3.     Don’t speed: Generally speaking, cars tend to get better mileage when driven at lower speeds. They also tend to not warrant expensive speeding tickets, which saves you even more money.

4.     Warm Up Your Car for Shorter Lengths of Time: If you wake up and it’s cold outside, don’t warm up the car for longer than 30 seconds. If the engine is idled for more than one minute, you not only waste fuel, but you may also pump nasty greenhouse gas emissions into the air. Engines of modern cars do not require the extensive length of time that older models needed to warm up.

5.     Don’t carry unnecessary weight: Each additional pound the engine has to move requires more fuel. Carrying heavy tools and supplies may weigh the car down more than you realize. Load them into your vehicle only on the days of their usage.

6.     Keep the windows up: Running the air conditioner does affect gas mileage, but increased air resistance from driving with the windows lowered hurts mileage more than the use of cooling air.

7.     Keep your car maintained: For better gas mileage, keep your vehicle in spectacular condition. Clean filters, good spark plugs, and correct tire pressure all attribute to your car’s gasoline usage.

Next time you hit the road, think about what is expending most of your gas. You might just save yourself some money!