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THE U.S. AUTO industry’s leading journal Automotive News is dealing with Covid-19. Here in Part 2, we pick up with mid-March, 2020, by which time all but a few people recognized the coronavirus as a pandemic.

Cover Status: The Coronavirus Crisis. Automotive News gave global coverage of the pandemic in its next issue, March 16, 2020. By then, we all understood where the name “corona” came from.

Image from Automotive News, March 16, 2020.

In its Final Assembly last page, Automotive News, announced, “The 2020 Ford Super-Duty—made at one of two Ford assembly plants in Louisville—will be the ‘featured vehicle’ of the 146th Kentucky Derby on May 2,” this, part of a five-year sponsorship deal.

Image from Automotive News, March 16, 2020.

On April 10, Churchill Downs Incorporated announced that the Kentucky Derby would be rescheduled to September 5, 2020.

Crisis Mode. Automotive News, March 23, 2020, opened with “While the viral storm clouds gathered in Wuhan, China, the North American auto industry continued with business as usual. U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilber Ross even mused that the coronavirus might give the American worker a new global advantage.”

How wrong can a guy be?

Automotive News, March 23, 2020.

Automotive News continued, “But now, as COVID-19 has swept through Kirkland and Kokomo, Warren and Wayne, the massive economic engine that is the auto industry is being stopped in its tracks.”

Running on Empty. Automotive News, March 30, 2020, reported dealers laying off employees “and it may be just the start.”

In “Launch Spoiler,” it gave details of marketing plans in jeopardy for introducing three high-interest cars, the new Chevrolet Corvette, the Nissan Sentra, and the Ford Mustang Mach-E.

On the other hand… Though Automotive News, April 6, 2020, had one front-page story titled “Virus Puts Stores in ‘Survival Mode,’ ” another read, “Trucks Carry On.” Nationwide, whereas most vehicles had double-digit declines in sales, large pickups had a quarterly jump of 3 percent. What’s more, the trend was strikingly geographic.

J.D. Power did an analysis of pre-coronavirus predictions versus actual March sales of pickup trucks across the nation. Automotive News quoted a GM spokeswoman saying, “As some states put strict social distancing orders in place, others were business as usual, and for us, that meant truck sales continued.”

Reality versus predictions of pickup truck sales. Image of J.D. Power data from Automotive News, April 6, 2020.

What can we learn from this?

Auto Tech Can Fight Covid-19. Automotive News, April 13, 2020, gives details of an Israeli startup applying its autonomous vehicle technology to identify possible Covid-19 carriers.

Adasky’s thermal imaging cameras can measure multiple body temperature from afar. Image from Automotive News, April 13, 2020.

Adasky already had thermal-imaging technology, important in telling pedestrians from, say, sign posts. “Instead of detecting objects on the road,” Automotive News reports, “that capability can now be used to measure the precise body temperature of prospective buyers at a car dealership, sports fans—anyone in public places.”

The company’s CEO Yakov Shaharabani said, “Technology will, step by step, help us back to the world we knew a few weeks ago.” ds

© Dennis Simanaitis,, 2020


  1. carmacarcounselor
    April 17, 2020

    Are dealers stressed enough to make a difference in what you actually pay for a car? When will the cost of financing their inventories drive dealers to cut their losses, and manufacturers have to support them with big incentives? So far it’s only lease deals and zero percent financing. When automakers start offering dealer cash and dealers start selling at back of invoice, we’ll be there to get a new crossover in which our daughter can carry our grandkids in safety and comfort. I’ll be taking the seventeen year old BMW 325iT back. That car will never leave the family as long as I have a say.

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