Simanaitis Says

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THE U.S., the second largest auto producer in the world, is awakening after a Covid-19-induced slumber. Here, in Parts 1 and 2 today and tomorrow, are tidbits about the automakers’ exit response to pandemic lockdown, as gleaned from six weeks of Automotive News, the weekly journal of the auto industry. The story picks up from Automotive News Updates on Covid-19,” at this website a little more than a month ago.

A Complex Industry. As Lindsay Chappell noted in “Restarting Factories Could Be a Train Wreck,” Automotive News, April 13, 2020, “The real-world worries now being expressed by some executives and consultants include suppliers with too little cash to pay for manufacturing restarts, a tussle over limited raw materials, the absence of smaller Tier 2 and Tier 3 companies because of insolvencies and even the disappearance of myriad regional trucking companies relied on to keep industry manufacturing chains linked together.”

Chappell quoted Dietmar Ostermann, a U.S. auto consultant, “You’re talking about starting up 50 or so major auto plants at the same time. Going from zero back to 100, all at once. That’s never been done.… It could be bloody.”

Learn From China. Michael Dunne is CEO of ZoZo, a consultancy specializing in the Asian auto market. Now residing in San Diego, he was based in the Far East for years. Dunne commented about the Chinese auto response to Covid-19 in Automotive News, April 13, 2020. “China,” he said, “needed 76 days of relentless efforts to get from the Wuhan total lockdown in late January to its first day with no new Covid-19-related death reported—Tuesday, April 7.”

“When Chinese leaders issue directives,” Dunne noted, “its 1.4 billion citizens follow orders…. Clearly, therefore, our timeline could be longer.”

Safety and Strategy. In “Restart Rules,” Automotive News, April 20, 2020, Hannah Lutz wrote, “The next time many auto workers report to the plants, they might have their temperature taken at the door, fill out a daily health questionaire, and wear vibrating wristbands to keep everyone a safe distance apart. But when that day will come remains an expensive question.”

Above, GM CEO Mary Barra tours a GM plant in Kokomo, Indiana, which is now producing ventilators. Image from Automotive News, April 20, 2020. Below, even Vice President/sycophant-in-chief Mike Pence wore a mask there, as per GM requirement, “days after,” Automotive News noted, “he was widely criticized for going without one at the Mayo Clinic, which also requires everyone to wear a mask.” Image by Reuters from Automotive News, May 4, 2020.

On this iconoclastic note, let’s pause here. Tomorrow in Part 2, let’s look at one challenge met, another challenge nationally misdirected, and several promising goals. ds

© Dennis Simanaitis,, 2020

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