Currently reading: Coronavirus and the car world: New guidance for driving lessons
Latest updates: Masks and gloves for driving instructors, SMMT issues dire jobs warning, government advisors call for car tax hike
James Attwood, digital editor
News
96 mins read
3 July 2020

The massive global effects of the coronavirus pandemic have had an equally seismic impact on the car industry.

As lockdowns were put in place across the globe to tackle the spread of the virus, production halted as factories were shut, while the closure of dealerships caused new cars sales to plummet. The financial values of every car firm have taken a major hit, while most major motoring and motorsport events have been cancelled.

This is Autocar’s rolling round-up of how the car world is being impacted, and its recovery as lockdown restrictions slowly ease. It will be updated regularly with information and links to more in-depth stories.

Friday 3 July: DVSA issues guidance for driving test examiners

● Learner drivers will be allowed to resume driving lessons from Saturday (4 July) in preparation for their practical exam, which can now be booked from 22 July onwards. 

New procedures for examiners and instructors have now been outlined. In order to minimise social contact, test centre waiting rooms will be out of action, appointment times will be staggered and all exterior and interior touch points will be disinfected between lessons and tests. Masks and gloves are also expected to be worn at all times while in the car, and students must declare whether they have recently demonstrated symptoms.  

Thursday 25 June: Driving lessons to resume in England in July

● Driving lessons will be allowed to resume in England from 4 July onwards, the government has confirmed. Lessons were suspended as part of the coronavirus lockdown measures introduced in March, but there had been growing concern from instructors that no timeline has been outlined for them to return as restrictions were each.

Jacob Rees-Mogg, the leader House of Commons, has said that lessons will be able to resume early next month. The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) will shortly write to driving instructors to set out plans for how to restart lessons and tests safely.

Rees-Mogg said the government wanted to assist instructors in "a return to life that is as close to normal as possible", and added there would be a "phased approach to resuming practical testing." Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland set their own rules for driving lessons and tests.

The Commission on Climate Change (CCC), an independent government advisory group, has called on the UK government to increase car tax as part of steps to help reduce carbon emissions. The group believes the tax hike should be introduced shortly because the impact will be mitigated by the reduced cost of fuel due to falling demand in the recent lockdown. Read the full story here.

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Wednesday 24 June: Fiat Chrysler secures £5.7bn loan

 Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has secured a £5.7bn credit line backed by the Italian government to help it recover from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Read the full story here.

Tuesday 23 June: SMMT issues bleak car industry job warning, McLaren takes legal action to secure funding

 One in six jobs in the UK automotive industry are at risk due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). The industry bosy has called on the government to offer a 'restart' package to help the industry recover by boosting demand and increasing cashflow. Read the full story here.

 McLaren has taken legal action against a group of creditors in order to allow it to go ahead with an "urgent" round of refinancing that it says is needed to overcome the "severe" financial impact of the coronavirus crisis. Read the full story here

Friday 19 June: BMW to cut around 6000 jobs, Welsh dealerships set to open on 22 June, US race events to allow fans back in

● The BMW Group has announced plans to cut around 6000 jobs as it bids to recover from the impact of the coronavirus crisis. The move has been signed off by the German Works Council.

BMW said the "planned workforce reductions" would be achieved through attrition, voluntary agreements, and not renewing temporary worker contracts. BMW says the moves "mainly" affect its workforce in Germany.

● Car dealerships in Wales will be allowed to open from Monday (22 June), the Welsh government has announced – and despite a legal requirement for people to stay local remains in place. Showrooms will be allowed to trade along with other non-essential shops once they have met new health and safety criteria, but the Welsh government has maintained a rule that prohibits people from travelling more than five miles, except in certain circumstances. 

● The Donington Historic Festival will not run in 2021. The event had been postponed in May, but organisers have been unable to find a suitable alternative date in 2020.

● The rescheduled Pikes Peak International Hill Climb in Colorado, USA, will run without spectators this year. The long-running event on the 14,115ft high mountain has already been postponed until 30 August. With the mountain's high elevation, unpredictable weather and limited access it only attracts a limited number of spectators – although around 30,000 fans usually attend the now-cancelled pre-event Fan Fest.

Some motorsport events in the USA are opening to spectators. Around 5000 fans will be allowed to attend this Sunday's NASCAR Cup Series event at Talladega in Alabama. With a capacity of up to 175,000, social distancing should not be a problem. NASCAR is also planning to allow around 30,000 fans to attend this year's All-Star Race on 16 July at Bristol Motor Speedway in Tennessee - around 20% of the venue's 162,000 capacity. Alabama and Tennessee have already eased many coronavirus lockdown restrictions.

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The IndyCar Series race at Iowa Speedway on 17/18 July will also allow around 5000-6000 fans to attend each day. The circuit has a capacity of more than 25,000. Tickets are also being offered for the races at Road America in Wisconsin on 11/12 July, a large road course where fans should be able to spread out.

Thursday 18 June: Peugeot treats NHS like friends and family, Ferrari's hometown F1 shakedown

● Car dealerships in Scotland will be allowed to open from 29 June onwards, after first minister Nicola Sturgeon announced plans to ease lockdown restrictons in the country. Showrooms, along with other shops that have outdoor entrances and exits, will be permitted to open as long as they have met new health and safety guidelines.

After dealerships in England and Northern Ireland were allowed to open in early June, Wales is the only region of the UK yet to announce plants to allow showrooms to open. Welsh government offiials have hinted they could announce tomorrow that restrictions could be eased next week.

● Peugeot will extended its 'Pride' friends and family discount scheme to UK National Health Service employees, enabling them to gain discounts on all of the firm's new cars. The discounts are available through Peugeot's online home ordering system.

● Ferrari staged an unusual warm-up for the rescheduled 2020 Formula 1 season, with Charles Leclerc driving the team's latest SF1000 F1 car through the streets of Maranello. The publicity run, staged 110 days after the machine last ran in pre-season testing, was undertaken as a special tribute to Ferrari's hometown. 

Leclerc started his run at Ferrari's Officina Classiche. He emerged from the main factory gate, passing in front of the Gestione Sportiva where the F1 team is based, before passing the Maranello Museum and ending his run at Ferrari's Fiorano test track.

Wednesday 17 June: New car sales in EU continue to struggle, Formula E to end season with six race at one circuit, All Volkswagen plants now open

● New car sales in the European Union fell by 52.3 per cent year-on-year in May - but did show a major recovery from April. A total of 581,161 cars were sold across the 27 EU countries in May as coronavirus lockdown restrictions were eased, compared to 270,682 in April. In the first five months of 2020, 3,331,715 cars have been sold in the EU, a year-on-year decline of 41.5%.

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New car sales in Spain continued to struggle in May, with a 72.7% year-on-year decline. Sales in France year down 50.3%, while Italy posted a year-on-year decline of 49.6% and Germany was down 49.5%. For comparison in the UK, which is no longer in the EU, sales were down 89.0% year-on-year in May, a result of lockdown restrictions remaining in place longer.

● Volkswagen has now resumed production at all 16 of its car plants worlwide, with work resuming at its Puebla plant in Mexico yesterday. The factory has been shut for 11 weeks due to the coronavirus crisis, with work resuming after officials there implemented the VW Group's 100-tiem safety plan. Volkswagen says that all of its passenger car plants are operating at different capacity due to various safety requirements and demand for new cars, with capacity at an average of 60-70 per cent of normal levels.

● Electric single-seater championship Formula E will conclude its 2019/2020 season with six races in nine days at Berlin's Tempelhof Airport. Because the series races on street circuits in large cities, organisers faced a major challenge to find venues to end the championship season. Events at the Excel centre in London and Brooklyn, New York have been cancelled. Five races had been held before the coronavirus pandemic began.

The six races will be run as three double-header events on 5/6, 8/9 and 12/13 August, with each pair of race using a different circuit layout at the old airfield venue. No spectators will be allowed.

Tuesday 16 June: No clarity over driving lessons and tests, but PPE prioritised

● The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) is still unable to clarify when driving lessons and tests will be allowed to start again. 

Lessons remain suspended, with the exception of key workers, until the government confirms a date. Industry representatives are still aiming for 6th July as a provisional date, but are calling for clarity to be given to ensure they have sufficient time to prepare themselves and students who have been off the road for nearly three months. 

Driving instructors have now had guidance over rescheduling tests booked prior to the pandemic shutdown, and have been asked to put all new test bookings on hold for the foreseeable. The DVSA has also ordered PPE for all driving examiners to ensure safety. 

Friday 12 June: Singapore, Japan and Azerbaijan grand prixs cancelled, PSA's 'virtual showroom' opens

 The Formula 1 Azerbaijan, Japanese and Singapore grand prixs have been cancelled for this year, following an agreement between the sport's bosses and race promoters. F1 bosses said that uncertainty over scheduling meant that finalising logistics for the  Singapore and Azerbaijan races given that both take place on street circuits. The Japanese race has been cancelled due to "ongoing travel restrictions" in the country.

F1 chiefs are still aiming to stage a 15-18 race calendar this year, starting in Austria early next month and ending in Abu Dhabi in mid-December. The schedule for the first eight races has been released, and the final calendar is set to be published ahead of the first Austrian race.

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F1 motorsport boss Rass Brawn said that there were "lots of different options", with the potential for further races to be added in Europe. Tracks including Mugello and Imola in Italy, Portimao in Portugal and Hockenheim in Germany are under consideration. Bahrain could also stage a double-header event near the end of the season, with the extra race potentially using one of the many alternative configurations of the circuit. Brawn added that Bahrain had "a nice sort of almost oval track that would be quite exciting."

 The PSA Group has launched a new 'virtual showroom' system across its Citroën, DS, Peugeot and Vauxhall brands, which will allow customers to view live online walkround vehicle tours, consult with 'brand specialists', book test drives and buy vehicles. The virtual showroom will run from 12pm to 8pm every day.

Thursday 11 June: Fiat to restart Panda production, Motorsport UK to provide PPE to event organisers

 Fiat is set to resume production of the Panda at its Naples plant in Italy on 16 June - a move that represents a positive sign for car sales in the country. An official for the UILM union said Fiat informed him production could resume at pre-lockdown levels, according to Reuters.

Production of the city car was originally due to restart on 8 June, but was delayed due to weak demand. The union official did hint that, while demand was improving, it was still weak and there could potentially be production stoppages. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has already resumed production of its commercial vans and Jeep Compass and Renegade models in Europe.

 Motorsport UK, the governing body of the sport in Britain, says that it will provide £50,000 worth of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to registered clubs and Rescue and Recovery units to help them meet Covid-19 safety requirments to stage events this year. It is establishing a central PPE procurement channel to assist clubs with further supplies, and will also provide individual pocket hand sanitiser to all officials working at events. Motorsport events will be allowed to resume in the UK from 4 July onwards, although events must be closed to spectators.

 The children of NHS workers will be given the chance to become 'virtual future F1 stars' at this year's British Grand Prix. Motorsport UK has launched an initiative to find children aged from seven to 10 who will be future stars and appear as part of the pre-race anthem ceremony for the 2 August event. Entry details can be found here.

 The organisers of the London to Brighton Veteran Car Run have delayed an announcement on plans for this year's event until July so that they can further monitor the development of Covid-19. The event is due to take place on 1 November. Ben Cussons, the chairman of the event organisers, said that the health and safety of participants was the chief concern, but they are looking "at a range of options" and were "determined" to stage the event in some form.

Wednesday 10 June: Vauxhall's Ellesmere Port plant won't reopen until September, Fresh doubts over scrappage scheme, Chinese car sales continue to recover

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 Vauxhall’s Ellesmere Port plant won’t reopen until after 1 September due to “the commercial situation” of the Astra model built there, parent company PSA Group has announced. Production was suspended at the site in March.

The PSA Group, Vauxhall’s parent firm, did not offer further explanation in the release, but with European showrooms only just opening after being closed for around two months and demand for new cars set to remain low for the remainder of the year, Vauxhall/Opel is likely facing significantly reduced demand for the family car. 

The bulk of PSA’s European plants have reopened, including Vauxhall’s Luton facility where the Vauxhall/Opel Vivaro, Peugeot Expert and Citroen Dispatch are built. With strong demand for the commercial models, PSA will begin a third shift at that site, with staff redeployed from Ellesmere Port to Luton for a temporary period on a voluntary basis.

In a statement, the PSA Group said: “The Company proposal will protect employment and support the ability to respond to significant demand for LCV production with highly trained and skilled workers for the Ellesmere Port site, while demand for Astra is building sufficiently.”

 The UK government is reconsidering plans to introduce a new scrappage scheme to boost car sales, according to the Financial Times. Key government figures have told the newspaper that the scheme is unlikely to go ahead because of concerns if will not stimulate UK production and economic growth in the way hoped. Read the full story here.

 The Chinese car market has continued to recover strongly since the country's coronavirus lockdown was lifted. According to date produced by the China Passenger Car Association (CPCA) overall sales in May were up 1.9% year-on-year, with 1.61 million cars sold. That backs previously research that suggests the Chinese public are increasingly turning to cars because of health concerns about using public transport since Covid-19 emerge.

While the rise in sales is encouraging for the industry, there are some reasons for caution: the CPCA does not expect the year-on-year growth to continue in June, because of strong sales in this month last year. Key industry figures have also cautioned the Chinese market growth is driven by the high number of first-time buyers in the country, suggesting that European markets are likely to undergo a slower recovery from their coronavirus lockdowns.

 Lexus has postponed the launch of its new IS saloon due to the 'recent global situation'. While the firm didn't specify the exact reason, it is understood to be a combination of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and the recent worldwide anti-racism protests. Read the full story here.

Tuesday 9 June: Wales Rally GB scrapped, London Concours to go ahead

 Wales Rally GB, Britain's round of the World Rally Championship, has been cancelled for 2020 due to ongoing uncertainty over staging mass events. Read the full story here. 

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 The London Concours will go ahead this year after organisers secured official approval. The event at the Honourable Artillery Company HQ in the City of London was due to take place in June, but has been postponed until 19-20 August. Organisers say they have secured extra space at the venue and devised a new operational plan, including a restricted ticket allocation. More than 100 classic cars are due to be displayed at the event.

 The Alfa Romeo Museum in Milan, Italy, will reopen on 24 June – the date of the firm's 110th anniversary. The special reopening will include access to the usually private 'backstage' area of the venue, giving access to around 150 extra vehicles. Revised operating hours will be in effect

Monday 8 June: Nissan resumes production, UK government set to announce scrappage scheme

 Nissan has restarted production at its Sunderland plant after almost three months of shutdown due to the pandemic. The firm claims it has spent hundreds of hours preparing the site to ensure employees can return to work safety. Additions include screens and dividers between operators, plus one way systems throughout. Nissan has also now opened up more than 95% of its showrooms across Europe, with only a small number not yet open in Portugal, Spain and the UK, and partial opening in Russia. 

Also opening today is the Jaguar Land Rover plant in Halewood, near Liverpool. The facility, which builds the Range Rover Evoque and Land Rover Discovery Sport, has only opened on a single shift for now, with a huge number of new processes in place. 

 The UK government is set to launch a new scrappage scheme that will offer buyers of new electrified vehicles up to £6000 if they trade in an older petrol or diesel model. Reports suggest the new initiative, designed to boost the economy following the coronavirus lockdown, will be unveiled in July. Click here for the full story.

 Car showrooms in Northern Ireland are allowed to open again today as the country eases coronavirus lockdown restrictions. Dealerships are allowed to open to sell new and used cars to customers, as long as health and safety measures including social distancing are in place. The opening comes a week after showrooms in England were allowed to allow customers in. There is still no news on when the Welsh and Scottish governments will ease their lockdown measures and allow dealerships or other non-essential retail outlets to open.

 Renault isn't waiting for a new scrappage scheme to offer incentives to potential electrified car buyers: it has launched a Switch incentive that offers discounts of £500 to buyers of a Clio hybrid or Kaptur plug-in hybrid, and £1000 for buyers of the electric Zoe. The firm is also offering a free wallbox charger to Zoe buyers.

Friday 5 June: SMMT responds to automotive job cuts; Germany pushes electric vehicles in economic stimulus package

 The chief executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) has called on the government to "double down" on efforts to help the industry recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, following the announcments that more than 2500 jobs could be cut at Bentley, Aston Martin and McLaren Group (see stories below). Leading dealership group Lookers will also cut up to 1500 jobs.

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Mike Hawes called the job cuts "devastating", adding: "Whilst the industry is fundamentally strong and agile, it is not invincible. Global industries are challenged and we need to ensure the UK has in place a comprehensive strategy to support the sector and the highly skilled workforce on whom it depends. As the sector strives to weather the worst storm in a generation, measures to drive cash flow, stimulate demand and, above all, maintain our competitiveness are essential.

"Governments must double down on efforts to reboot economies, protect jobs and, internationally, work urgently to secure ambitious free trade agreements which avoid tariffs that add onerous cost and stifle global growth.”

The German government has introduced a number of incentives to boost the uptake of electric cars as part of a €130 billion (£115 billion) coronavirus economic stimulus package. Measures include doubling subsidies offered on new electric cars, lowering VAT from 19% to 16%, and an overhaul of vehicle tax that will increase charges for vehicles that emit more than 95g/km of CO2.

Electric cars that cost below €40,000 (£35,500) will attract a €6000 (£5300) incentive. When added to a €3000 (£2600) manufacturer stipend, it the discount offered for EVs to €9000 (£8000). In addition, fuel stations in Germany will be required to provide electric vehicle charging points.

Several major German car firms have been pushing for  the introduction of incentives to boost car sales to help them recover from the coronavirus crisis. But with electric cars accounting for less than 2% of the new car market in 2019, the focus on EVs has been met with scorn. In a statement the German car industry association, the VDA, said: "The VDA regrets that the stimulus plan only partially included the auto industry’s proposals for a broad and immediate economic impulse."  

 Bentley is the latest British car manufacturer to announce major job cuts in the wake of the coronavirus lockdown. The Crewe manufacturer is seeking to cut up to 1000 jobs as part of a major restructuring plan. It is initially seeking voluntary redundancies. Read the full story here.

Thursday 4 June: lockdown continues to hurt UK car sales, Aston Martin and major dealership ground announce job cuts

● UK new car sales fell by 89% year-on-year in May, according to data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). While the figures are bleak, they are a considerable improvement on April, aided by the government allowing 'click-and-collect' online car sales in the second part of the month. Read the full story here.

● Aston Martin is planning to cut 500 jobs as part of a raft of cost saving measures that will include reduced output on its sports car lines. The British firm recently announced heavy losses due to coronavirus disruption. Read the full story here.

● Car dealership group Lookers will cut up to 1500 jobs with the closure of 12 sites, a move that chief executive Mark Raban said was to "position the business for a sustainable future". Like all dealership groups, Lookers has been badly hit by the closure of showrooms due to the lockdown. The firm announced last November that it would close 15 dealerships. It currently employs 8000 staff, and the announced closures will leave it with 136 dealerships across the UK.

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● Rally New Zealand, which was due to be the next round of this year's World Rally Championship on 3-6 September, has been cancelled. The announcement came the day after Rally Finland was also cancelled. The next scheduled event is Rally Turkey on 24-27 September.

Wednesday 3 June: LEVC to resume electric taxi production; Volvo's encouraging sales signals; Beaulieu to reopen... although not the museum

London taxi manufacturer LEVC, will begin a phased return to production at its Coventry factory starting from Monday 8 June. The Geely-owned firm, which produced more than 100,000 marks for local NHS hospitals during lockdown, has introduced more than 100 coronavirus-related safety measures to protect start working on its electric TX taxi and VN5 electric vans.

The PSA Group, which comprises Citroën, DS, Peugeot and Vauxhall/Opel, has donated more than 50,000 protective face masks to the NHS. The PPE is being given to hospitals and care homes close to the firm's Luton and Ellesmere Port plants and Coventry offices.

● Volvo has released its global sales figures for May, which show some encouraging trends that the industry can recover from the impact of Covid-19. The firm sold 44,830 cars in May, and while that was down 25.5 per cent year-on-year, the decline was substantially reduced from April's 43.8 per cent decline.

The firm's sales were down 49.6% year-on-year in Europe, a strong recovery from April as certain countries began to ease lockdown restrictions. In the US Volvo's were only down 2.5% year-on-year, while in China – which has already lifted lockdown restrictions – sales actually role 21.8% compared to May 2019.

● Rally Finland, one of the marquee rounds of the World Rally Championship, has been cancelled for 2020. The organisers took the decision to can the rally, due to run on 6-9 August, because of uncertainty over whether travel restrictions would be eased for visitors to enter Finland in the coming months.

WRC organisers are still working on plans for the 2020 season, but the nature of rallies that run over multiple stage across large regions, makes that far more complicated than a circuit race where access can be tightly controlled. The Portuguese and Safari rallies have also been cancelled for 2020, and there are serious doubts over the events in New Zealand – the next secheduled event on the calendar on Septembr 3-6 and Japan. 

● Beaulieu, which is home to the National Motor Museum, will begin to open its ground from Saturday 6 June. 500 visitors a day will be allowed to tour the grounds of the stateley home – although the motor museum itself will remain closed under current government restrictions.

Tuesday 2 June: F1 bosses reveal first eight 2020 races; Coronavirus and the UK car industry special report

● Formula 1 chiefs have released the calendar for the first eight rounds of the scheduled 2020 season, including a pair of races at Silverstone: the British Grand Prix and the one-off Formula 1 70th Anniversary Grand Prix. Neither event will be open to spectators. Read the full story here.

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● How will the UK car industry be impacted by the coronavirus pandemic in the future? Autocar has been investigating for a huge special report that will run on autocar.co.uk across the coming weeks. It will look at the challenges for making and selling cars in Britain, both in the immediate aftermath of the lockdown and the longer-term, investigate which firms will survive, whether sales will recover and the global trends shaping the UK market. Read the first part here.

Monday 1 June: Car showrooms in England re-open, F1 secures quarantine exemption from British government

● Car showrooms in England are allowed to open for the first time since mid-March today, after the UK government eased the lockdown restrictions on a number of 'non-essential' retail units. All dealerships are required to put a number of Covid-19 health and safety measures in place. Read the full story here.

The UK government has agreed exemptions to its planned quarantine on all arrivals from outside the UK for Formula 1 teams and officials, ensuring that Silverstone will be able to host two races in July and August (see Saturday 30 May). According to reports, professional sports teams will be exempt from the quarantine, but must submit detailed movement plans for all members for approval by the government. They will also be required to stay in a 'safe environment' and have minimal contact with others.

Saturday 30 May: Formula 1 and other competitive sport cleared to return in UK

● Formula 1 has been given the go-ahead to stage races at Silverstone, with the UK government approving the return of professional competitive sport. Events can run without spectators behind closed doors from 1 June. Culture secretary Oliver Dowden said: "Football, tennis, horse racing, Formula 1, cricket, golf, rugby, snooker and others are all set to return to our screens shortly."

While the decision clears the way for the British GP to run, there is still no official word on whether F1 team members will be exampt from the planned 14-day quarantine period when entering the UK - which could prevent the races going ahead.

Silverstone has been pencilled in to host two races as part of the rescheduled 2020 season, although the events are now set to take place in late July and early August, a few weeks later than originally planned. Meanwhile, the Austrian government has reportedly approved plans to host two F1 races at the Red Bull Ring on 5 and 12 July. The double-header will start the delayed 2020 season, with F1 bosses currently working to finalise a calendar.

The UK government approval for competitive sport is also good news for UK motorsport series such as the British Touring Car Championship, which is scheduled to start its delayed 2020 season in August.

Friday 29 May: Northern Irish dealerships set for 8 June opening, UK car manufacturing plummets

● Car dealerships in Northern Ireland will be allowed to open from 8 June onwards, the country's devolved government has confirmed. New and used car retailers are among 'large non-food retailers' allowed to operate from that date, provided new Covid-19 health and safety steps are in place. They will follow dealerships in England, which are able to open from 1 June onwards.

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Sue Robinson, the direction of the National Franchised Dealer Association, said: “The franchised retail automotive sector accounts for well over 11,000 jobs in Northern Ireland. It is important that dealerships reopen to safeguard the people employed and serve all those that need cars to travel to work."

There is no date yet for when dealerships in Wales and Scotland will be allowed to open. The Welsh First Minister has said he hopes to allow 'non-essential' shops to oopen around 19 June.

● UK car manufacturing fell by 99.7% in April due to the virtual shutdown of the country's car plants caused by coronavirus lockdown measures. Just 197 cars were built during the month, virtually all of which were premium or luxury machines that had been assembled prior to the lockdown. Read the full story here.

Thursday 28 May: Ford's hot pursuit car, firms preparing to reopen UK showrooms, 2020 Dutch GP canned, F1 approves major cost-cutting measures

● Ford is introducing a software update for its Police Interceptor Utility models in the USA that can temporarily raise the temperature of the car's cabin to more than 56C for 15 minutes to help reduce the risk of coronavirus infection. The update is available for all of the machines built for law enforcement officials between 2013 and 2019, and was developed with the help of The Ohio State University. 

Research suggests that exposing coronavirus to temperatures of 56C – hotter than Death Valley – for 15 minutes or more can reduce the viral concentration on interior surfaces by around 99 per cent. The new system is designed to be used alongside increased cleaning efforts.

● Kia has said that all its English showrooms, service centres and MOT centres will open on 1 June, when they are allowed to do so by the government. All dealerships have introduced new health and safety measures in line with UK government requirements.

● Seat says it will begin a 'phased' opening of its English showrooms from 1 June onwards. As well as introducing the government's required health and safety measures, Seat is also offering new and returning customers the chance to book appointments in order to limit the number of customers on site. Seat will also continue to offer its Live Showcase 'virtual' vehicle tour service, along with enhanced online services and 'click-and-collect' car handovers.

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The Dutch Grand Prix, which was originally due to be held in April, has been officially cancelled for the 2020 season. The Zandvoort race would have been F1's return to Max Verstappen's homeland for the first time since 1985, and organisers have said they would rather wait until 2021 than stage an event without fans present. Anyone who bought a ticket for the 2020 race can either attend next year, or have a refund.

 Formula 1 bosses have officially approved major changes to the sport's technical regulations, including the introduction of a tought new cost cap. F1 teams will now be limited to spending $145 million (£116 million) in 2021, $140m (£112m) in 2022 and $135m (£109m) in each of 2023-2025 under the new cost cap, which has been tightened up to help reduce costs following the coronavirus crisis. Several exclusions to the rules will apply.

The rule changes approved by the FIA World Motor Sport Council to help cut immediate costs also include freezing development of a large number of components including chassis and gearbox until the end of 2021 and limits to powertrain upgrades. The new budget cap was cited by McLaren Group as a contributing factor to its decison to cut a substantial number of jobs in its F1 team recently.

Wednesday 27 May: Motorsport UK's plan to restart, French government considers massive car industry bailout

● Motorsport UK is aiming to allow motorsport events to run from 4 July onwards. The sanctioning body suspended all event permits in mid-March due to Covid-19, but will now start to process new permit applications from 1 June onwards. The number of event permits will be limited, and will not be open to spectators, while organisers will need to meet several new coronavirus-related health and safety criteria.

The Renault-Nissan-Mutsubishi Allaiance has announced a major restructuring of the agreement between the three car firms, with each focusing on key regions and technologies. The moves come as both Nissan and Renault are set to post heavy losses, in part due to the coronavirus outbreak. Read the full story here.

● The French government has pledged €8 billion (£7.1 billion) to help the country's automotive industry recover from the coronavirus crisis, including the introduction of €7000 (£6230) grants for electric car buyers. Read the full story here.

Tuesday 26 May: McLaren custs 1200 staff, British GP chiefs hopeful despite quarantine rules, English dealerships to re-open on 1 June 

The McLaren Group will cut around 1200 staff across its automotive, racing and technology divisions, as part of a major restructure due to the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Read the full story here.

The chances of Silverstone staging a pair of Formula 1 races, including the British Grand Prix, have been boosted, with reports that Prime Minister Boris Johnson is keen to introduce an exemption to the UK's new quarantine rules to allow the event to go ahead. The government will shortly introduce a mandatory 14-day quarantine period for all overseas arrivals into the country, which could prevent teams from being able to attend Silverstone. The circuit is due to host a pair of races in mid-July, with the first just seven days after the season of two events at the Red Bull Ring in Austria.

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The Times has now reported that Johnson raised the issue at a cabinet meeting last week, and is keen to create an exemption to allow sporting events such as the grand prix to go ahead. F1 bosses have talked to officials at Germany's Hockenheim circuit about potentially holding races in place of Silverstone.

● Car dealerships in England will be able to re-open on 1 June, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced. All dealerships will need to introduce a number of social distancing and safety measures before customers are allowed to visit. Read the full story here.

● This year's Silverstone Classic motoring festival has been cancelled due to the coronavirus crisis. The three-day classic race meeting had been due to run on 31 July-2 August, and would have been the event's 30th anniversary. Organisers said that holding the meeting with social distancing measures in place would have been "a huge challenge" due to the large number of competitors, and that it wasn't viable to run behind closed doors. Around 100,000 spectators usually attend the event, which organisers have vowed will return in 2021.

Monday 25 May: Jaguar Land Rover seeking government loan

● Jaguar Land Rover is said to be seeking a substantial government loan to support it as the effect of the coronavirus pandemic continues to impact the automotive industry. 

First reported by Sky News, Britain's biggest car maker is said to be asking the Treasury for temporary state funding of over £1bn. JLR has refused to confirm reports beyond stating it is "constantly in discussion with the government on a number of matters", but a spokesperson called suggestions that the loan amount could be as high as £2bn as "inaccurate and speculative".

The company has furloughed around 18,000 of its 38,000 UK employees under the government's Job Retention Scheme. It does not qualify for the Treasury's Corporate Financing Facility, aimed at large businesses, because its credit rating is not strong enough. 

JLR's most recent results, for the January to March period, claimed it had £3.6bn in cash and investments alongside an undrawn credit facility of £1.9bn. Credit rating agency Standard and Poor reckoned it has burned through £1bn a month during the crisis, while the initial spread of the virus across Asia saw sales drop by nearly a third between January and March. 

Friday 22 May: SMMT calls for dealerships to re-open to boost economy

 British car retailers are “ready to get back to business” and end the £61 million daily cost to the Treasury of keeping dealerships closed, says the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

The UK industry body claims the daily cost is through lost tax income, with automotive retail contributing £36bn a year to the Treasury,  and the cost of furloughing the retail sector’s 590,000 employees. It calls for the country’s 4,900-strong network of new car showrooms to be reopened “as a matter of urgency” to allow the market to restart and provide a boost to the economy. 

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SMMT chief Mike Hawes said “Government measures to support the critical automotive industry during the crisis have provided an essential lifeline, and the sector is now ready to return to work to help the UK rebuild.

“Car showrooms, just like garden centres, are spacious and can accommodate social distancing easily, making them some of the UK’s safest retail premises. Allowing dealers to get back to business will help stimulate consumer confidence and unlock recovery of the wider industry, boosting tax revenue and reducing the burden on government spending” 

Earlier this month the British government tentatively gave a date of 1 June for showrooms to re-open as part of the next phase of easing lockdown restrictions. However, this has yet to be confirmed, and depends on the progress of the pandemic. 

The SMMT has partnered with the National Franchised Retailers Association (NFDA) to publish best practice guidance for showrooms to ensure social distancing and a safe buying process. 

Thursday 21 May: Jaguar Land Rover completes first models under new social distancing measures, PSA Group launches new anti-bac air con service

 Jaguar Land Rover yesterday completed production of the first Range Rover made under new social distancing measures at its Solihull factory. As with other cars firms, the British manufacturer has introduced a range of safety measures for production staff to prevent the spread of Covid-19, including social distancing, hygiene and health monitoring and the use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) where appropriate.

JLR's factories in Graz, Austria and Nitra, Slovakia also resumed production this week, with the Halewood plant due to resume on 8 June. The firm has resumed "small pockets of business critical activity" at Castle Bromwich in preparation for new model year launches.

 The PSA Group, which owns Citroën, DS, Peugeot and Vauxhall, has introduced a new 'Complete Anti-Bacterial Refresh' service. The £99 service includes a comprehensive cleaning of a car's air conditioning system, replacement of the car's pollen filers, internal and external disinfection of the vehicle and a 29-point inspection of key parts.

Wednesday 20 May: Fresh doubts for British Grand Prix

 Formula 1 bosses have said that plans to host a pair of races at Silverstone in July will be abandoned unless the UK government grants F1 personnel an exemption from a planned 14-day quarantine restriction for anyone entering the country. The Northamptonshire circuit, the long-time host of the British Grand Prix, has agreed to hold two races as part of the rescheduled 2020 calendar, but the first is due to take place a week after the second of two races at the Red Bull Ring in Austria.

Bosses of Hockenheim Circuit in Germany, which was not originally on the 2020 schedule, have confirmed they are in talks with F1 officials about hosting two races in place of Silverstone.

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Tuesday 19 May: Record fall for European car sales, Ferrari museums reopen in Italy, Motorsport UK sets out guidelines for sport to resume

 New car sales in the European Union fell by 76.3% year-on-year in April, the biggest drop since records began, according to data from the European Automobile Manufacturers Association (ACEA). With lockdowns in effect across most of the EU's 27 member states (which no longer includes the UK) just 270,682 cars were sold, compared to 1,143,046 in April last year. In total, car sales in 2020 are down 38.5% across the EU in the first four months of the year compared to 2019. Italy and Spain were the worst-hit EU countries, with tighter lockdowns in both prompting sales to fall by 97.6% and 96.5% respectively. Sales in France fell 88.8%, with Germany down 61.1%.

Across Europe, which includes the EU, UK and countries in the European Free Trade Area (EFTA), sales totalled 292,182 in April, down 78.3% year-on-year. The 3,008,426 cars sold in the region so far in 2020 is down 39.9% year-on-year. In the UK, which is no longer part of the EU, sales fell by 97.3% in April. 

Jaguar Land Rover was the worst-hit car firm across Europe (the EU, UK and EFTA) in April, with its 1852 models sold an 88.6% drop on 2019. Honda's sales were down 88.5% year-on year, to 1067 cars. The FCA Group, whose firms include Alfa Romeo, Fiat and Jeep, sold 10,952 cars, a fall of 87.7%. Other major European firms also posted sharp losses, with the PSA Group down 82.4%, Daimler down 80.1%, Group Renault down 79.5%, the VW Group down 75% and the BMW Group down 69.7%.

● Ferrari has reopened its museums in Maranello and Modena, in line with Italian government advice. Various safety measures, including temperature checks, will be in place, with entry numbers limited. Time slots can be booked in advance. Ferrari has also given healthcare workers free access to the museums for the remainder of 2020, with discounts for their family.

● British motorsport bosses have outlined plans for the phase restart of the sport in the UK. Motorsport UK has suspended all event permits until at least 30 June, but has proposed a series of measures to allow the sport to resume in line with government rules. Among the measures, competitors, crews and other attending events will be required to complete pre-event declarations that they are free of Covid-19 symptoms, and team personnel will be required to wear PPE.

The measures will allow most forms of motorsport to resume, although they will not include categories with more than one person in the car at any time. As a result, the only rallies initially permitted to take place will be 'single-venue' time trial-style events, with drivers competing without a navigator.

Monday 18 May: Ford resumes UK engine production

● Ford has resumed production at its UK engine plants in Dagenham and Bridgend, with new social distancing and safety measures in place. Everyone on the site will be required to wear a Ford-supplied face mask, with plastic face shields used in certain manufacturing areas where social distancing cannot be maintained. Everyone on site will also be required to undergo temperature checks, and be provided with a personal 'care kit'.

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Friday 15 May: Bentley set to expand production plans, England road upgrades, London Congestion Charge increase, major motorsport set to resume

● McLaren is considering mortgaging its Woking factory and collection of historic racing cars in a bid to raise cash, according to reports. Sources told Sky News that McLaren Group – which encompasses both the road car division and Formula 1 team – was considering the plan in a bid to raise up to £275 million to help cashflow during the coronavirus pandemic. A request for a £150 million loan from the government was recently rejected, according to reports.

In a statement, a McLaren spokesperson said: “Like many other British businesses McLaren has been severely affected by the current pandemic and we are therefore exploring a variety of different funding options to help navigate these short-term business interruptions.

● Bentley has published its Covid-19 risk assessment, as it prepares to further ramp up production at its Crewe factory. The British firm resume production this week, with more than 1700 staff working on the Bentayga and Mulsanne production lines. Bentley will restart the Continental GT and Flying Spur lines next week, with all of its lines initially running at around 50 per cent capacity.

All companies with more than 50 employees are now required to conduct an online Covid-19 risk assessment from the Health and Safety Executive, and to display the resulting certificate. Bentley says it has introduced 250 new health and safety measures to protect workers.

● Honda is set to resume production at its Swindon factory in June, with new safety measures in place. The Honda Civic is currently produced at the plant, which is due to close in July 2021.

● Silverstone has agreed a deal to host two Formula 1 races behind closed doors – if UK government restrictions allow. The home of the British Grand Prix was part of initial plans by F1 bosses to restart the season in July, but there have been reports of a dispute over the finances of hosting events without fans. 

The 2020 season is now due to start with back-to-back races at the Red Bull Ring in Austria, followed by back-to-back races at Silverstone. But plenty of questions remain, including whether UK restrictions will be in place. The plans could also require F1 to receive dispensation for team members to avoid a 14-day lockdown period when travelling from Austria to the UK.

F1 bosses are still working on a 15 to 18 race calendar, with Hockenheim in Germany and Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium both in line to host races.

● If you can't wait until July for your fix of major motorsport events, the NASCAR Cup Series is due to resume in the USA this weekend. The stock car series will kick off with races at Darlington in South Carolina on Sunday and next Wednesday, following by races at Charlotte Motor Speedway on 24 and 27 May.

The circuits were chosen because they are located near Charlotte, North Carolina, where the vast majority of NASCAR teams are based, reducing travel times. Both are in states that have also loosened lockdown restrictions. Teams will only be allowed to bring limited staff members to each event, and no practice will be held to reduce time at the venue and any risks.

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● Motorsport Vision will resume trackdays and testing at Brands Hatch, Donington Park, Oulton Park, Snetterton, Cadwell Park and Bedford Autodrome from Monday 18 May onwards. The circuits will initially open to professional teams for semi-exclusive testing, with track days set to resume from 26 May, with new Covid-19 safety measures and guidance in place.

● Transport secretary Grant Shapps has said the government is using the reduction in traffic during the lockdown to accelerate major infrastructure projects on England's roads. He also laid out further details of plans to boost the nation's EV charging infrastructure. Read the full story here.

● The London Congestion Charge will come back into force on Monday, having been suspended for the duration of the lockdown – and the price will rise. Read the full story here.

Thursday 14 May: McLaren and Morgan staff return to factory, Ford's new production line, Ferrari F1 team's ventilator

● McLaren has confirmed that it has begun a phased resumption of production at its Woking plant, initially on its range-topping Ultimate Series line.

In a statement, the firm said: "While vehicle production was suspended in March due to the pandemic, a small team has been supporting efforts to provide much-needed ventilator equipment to the NHS. This vital work has been carried out with stringent health and safety measures in place to protect our key workers and many of those learnings have helped us to recommence limited activity on our Ultimate Series line with a view to gradually ramping-up production.”

● Morgan has also resumed limited production at its factory. Around 20 staff returned to work on Monday 12 May, with their initial aim to finish vehicles in the second half of production.

The firm added: "This very small scale reintroduction provides us a good opportunity to prove some of the new social distancing measures we have put in place throughout the factory alongside government guidelines. The welfare of our employees and compliance with social distancing measures remains the number one priority when we’re considering any of our business operations. We will reintroduce more staff back to the factory only when we feel it is safe to do so."

● Ford has converted an empty warehouse at its Dagenham plant into a temporary production facility for ventilators to help treat coronavirus patients. The car giant is producing 15,000 Penlon Prima ES02 ventilators as part of the VentilatorChallenge UK consortium, and created the new production facility in three weeks. Ford estimates it would usually take a year to construct a production line. When full production is reached, more than 650 people will work in three shifts on the line.

Ford will resume engine production at Dagenham on 18 May (see below), although the ventilator production area will be kept separate from the car facilities.

● ​The Scuderia Ferrari Formula 1 team has partnered with the Italian Institute of Technology (IIT) to develop a ventilator to help hospitals treat Covid-19 patients. The team says the new device uses easily available materials, with the design published on an open source platform so that anyone can produce it. The ventilator even has its own F1 chassis-style codename: FI5, representing the initials of Ferrari and the IIT and the number of weeks it took to design and produce the first prototype.

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The FI5 is one of a number of joint projects between Ferrari and the IIT, with the supercar firm backing healthcare projects in the Modena region, producing respirators and protective mask parts.

Wednesday 13 May: Car dealers given guidance for reopening, Aston Martin losses increase, Volkswagen suspends production due to low demand

● New industry guidance on the safe reopening of car showrooms has been published by the National Franchised Dealers Association (NFDA) and Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). The best-practice guidance covers the whole customer journey, including booking appointments, showroom visits, test drives, 'click-and-collect' services, part-exchanges and after sales. It includes advice on staff training, signage, sanitation measures and the use of personal protective equipment (PPE).

While car dealers will be unable to open showrooms until 1 June at the earliest, those based in England will be allowed to conduct 'click-and-collect' deliveries for models ordered online or over the phone, according to the latest UK government guidelines. Read the full story here.

● Vauxhall will being a "gradual and secured" resumption of production at its Luton van plant on Monday 18 May, following the implementation of "reinforced health protocols" developed by the PSA Group. The measures include temperature checks at the entrance to the facility, the provision of facemarks and sanitiser, social distancing protocols and enhanced tool cleaning measures. Yann Vincent, PSA's manufacturing chief, said that protecting the health of employees and commercial demand "will guide our decisions" on the resumption of production at its plants.

● Ford will resume production at its UK plants in Dagenham and Bridgend on 18 May. With the firm's engine plant in Valencia, Spain due to open next week, the opening of the two UK factories will mean all of Ford's European sites will be operational. The firm will provide all employees with facemasks and equipment in a special care kit, and check the temperature of all staff on arrival.

The firm will also continue to produce ventilators through its role in the VentilatorChallenge UK consortium.

● Volkswagen has paused production of the seventh and eigth generation Golf, Tiguan and Seat Tarraco at its Wolfsburg factory due to a lack of demand for new cars in Europe, according to The Financial Times. The newspaper cites an interview by VW manager Arne Meiswinkel with an internal publication saying the firm had to “align production to the expected market fluctuations”.

Production resumed at Wolfsburg in recent weeks with a limited number of staff following new health protocols, but with most dealerships in Europe still shut, sales and deliveries of new cars on the continent have virtually dried up.

● Aston Martin Lagonda Ltd posted losses of nearly £119 million in the first three months of 2019 due to the onset of the Covid-19 crisis. But the firm says that deliveries of the DBX SUV are on track to begin this summer, with its St Athan facility now operational again. Read the full story here.

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● Tesla has been given permission by local authorities to resume production at its Fremont, California plant next week. The firm has sued Alameda County after it refused to give it permission to resume operations, and began to open the plant earlier this week

In a statement, the Alameda County Public Health Department said that it had received an updated safety plan from Tesla, and said that: "If Tesla's Prevention and Control Plan includes these updates, and the public health indicators remain stable or improve" the firm can resume minimum operations this week, and resume car production next week.

County officials said they would work with the Fremont Police Department "to verify Tesla is adhering to physical distancing and that agreed upon health and safety measures are in place for the safety of their workers."

The extraordinary dispute between Tesla and Alameda County was joined earlier yesterday by US President Donald Trump, who tweeted: "California should let Tesla and Elon Musk open the plant, NOW. It can be done Fast and Safely!"

Tuesday 12 May: Toyota expects sharp falls in profits, UK government sets guidelines for shops to open; Tesla opens California factory despite local orders

● Toyota expects its profits to fall by 80 per cent this year as demand for new cars is hit by the coronavirus outbreak. The firm made 2.4 trillion yen (£18.4 billion) in the financial year that ended in March, with the 8,958,000 cars it sold down just 0.8% on 2019.

With worldwide lockdown measures in place for April and the impact of Covid-19 likely to be felt long-term, Toyota is expecting car sales to fall by 1.95 million in the financial year that ends in March 2021, with profits falling to 500 billion yen (£3.8 billion).

Speaking at the firm’s annual results presentation, company boss Akio Toyoda said the Covid-19 pandemic “has dealt us a bigger shock than the 2008 global financial crisis.”

Toyoda added that making PPE and ventilators to support medical services in Japan  demonstrated Toyota’s determination to help society overcome the virus. He added: “There is no crisis that humankind cannot overcome. For us to overcome the Covid-19 crisis together, Toyota is ready to do whatever it can to make itself of use.” 

● The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has published guidance for how businesses can safely resume work during the coronavirus outbreak. The measures include guidelines that shops – including car showrooms – will be required to follow when they are allowed to open. At present, non-essential shops will open in "phases" from 1 June onwards, with car firms expecting to be told of a clearer timeline today.

Before shops can open they will need to have performed an online Health and Safety Executive (HSE) risk assessment and inspection - with random spot checks in the future to ensure they comply. Shops must also follow a series a number of health and safety measures, including the provision of cleaning, handwashing and hygiene procedures, the enforcement of two-metre social distancing where possible, and steps to mitigate any risk of transmission as much as possible.

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● Tesla has reopened its Fremont, California factory - in defiance of local regulations. While the state has eased its stay-at-home restrictions to allow manufacturing to resume, officials in Alameda County, where the plant is located, have so far not given permission for it to reopen. That prompted Tesla to file a lawsuit against county officials over the weekend.

Staff have now return to work at the site, with production resuming yesterday (Monday). On Twitter, company boss Elon Musk said: "Tesla is restarting production today against Alameda County rules. I will be on the line with everyone else. If anyone is arrested, I ask that it only be me." Read the full story here.

● McLaren has reopened its factory in Woking, but company boss Mike Flewitt has said that it won't reach previous levels of activity until July. Speaking in an online Financial Times Global Boardroom interview, Flewitt said that 90 of the firm's more than 200 suppliers were forced to close due to coronavirua lockdowns, but all were now preparing to reopen. He added that new social distancing measures meant the plant can't run at "peak" capacity.

Speaking about sales, Flewitt said he expects "a good proportion of demand" to return "very quickly" when showrooms can reopen, but expected it would take a couple of years to return to 2019 levels.

Monday 11 May: Ferrari back to full production, Tesla in legal row over plant reopening plans

● UK car dealerships are unlikely to reopen until 1 June at the earliest following new government guideance on coronavirus restrictions. All non-essential shops and businesses, including dealerships, have been forced to close retail sites since late March as part of lockdown measures to slow the spread of Covid-19.

There had been hopes that Prime Minister Boris Johnson would allow car dealers and some other retail businesses to reopen with social distancing measures in place. But a guidance document entitled 'Staying alert and safe' that has been published by the government today make no mention of car dealerships, with only garden centres (from Wednesday onwards) added to the list of retailers now allowed to open. 

The government has said that "the intention" is for non-essential retail businesses to begin opening "in phases from 1 June", and says it will shortly issue guidance on which businesses will be involved in those phases, and the likely timelines. 

While dealerships will seemingly not be able to open showrooms until then, they are currently able to sell cars either online or over the phone, and arrange remote deliveries. It is understood that more 'sector specific' guidance will follow in the coming days, which should provide some clarity.

The National Franchised Dealer Association told Autocar: "The NFDA is currently requesting further clarification from Government. We expect sector specific guidance to be published tomorrow, this is likely to provide us with a clearer picture of the next steps."

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However, manufacturing firms in the UK – which will include car plants – are being encouraged to resume work, with the government saying that "sectors of the economy that are allowed to be open should be open." Rolls-Royce, Bentley, Aston Martin and Jaguar Land Rover are among the car firms to have already resumed limited production in line with the new 'Covid-19 secure guidelines' on health and safety.

● Bentley has restarted production in a limited capacity at its headquarters in Crewe, Cheshire. 1,700 employees are now at the site to start a "phased production ramp-up", which for now means running at 50% capacity with double 'takt time' (the time it takes cars to move from each manufacturing stage to the next).

The 50% capacity will run for 'a number of weeks', with the remaining 500 staff due to return in mid-June. Initially the Mulsanne and Bentayga lines will begin to roll, with Flying Spur and Continental GT lines restarting next week.  The whole facility, including areas such as bathrooms, has been restructured around social distancing measures to ensure two-metre distancing between colleagues. 

● The UK government has also made it easier for cities and other local authorities to close roads to cars in order to encourage cycling and walking. Read the full story on that here.

● Ferrari says its Maranello and Modena factories have now returned to full production after the gradual reopening under its "Back on Track" programme. The first car to be finished on the Special Series production line was a black and grey Monza SP2, with an 812 GTS Spider and F8 Tributo the first machines off the V12 and V8 lines respectively. Ferrari has introduced a number of new health and safety protocols at its plants.

● Tesla has sued Alameda County officials because the firm says they will not allow its Fremont, California factory to reopen. Tesla boss Elon Musk has also threatened the move the firm's HQ and shift future production facilities to Texas and Nevada. Read the full story here.

● Jean Todt, the president of the FIA and the former boss of the Ferrari F1 team, believes that the focus governments have applied to tackling coronavirus should also be put on reducing road deaths in the future. Read the full story here.

● Honda will gradually resume production in its North American factories in the USA and Canada this week. Staff will receive training about new social distancing and safety measures put in place at the various sites, which closed on 23 March.

Thursday 7 May: Aston Martin's new working methods, Ford USA starts deliveries of medical equipment

● Aston Martin, which began the phased resumption of production at its St Athan Facility on Tuesday (5 May), and has outlined a number of the new safety protocols it has put in place to protect staff. As well as new limits to the total number of staff on site at any time and social distancing measures, the firm has also drawn up guidance on PPE usage (such as the mandatory usage of masks on site) and temperature checks on arrival.

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The firm's crucial new DBX SUV is being built at the St Athan plant. Aston says that it will resume work at its Gaydon plant "in due course."

● With car firms slowing resuming production in plants across the UK and Europe, how are they managing to efficiently build new cars while also ensuring their workers are kept safe and health. We've taken a look at how production lines are operating in the new age of social distancing. Read more here.

 The Indian car market made unfortunate history in April, with zero new cars sold in a country with a population of 1.3 billion. The complete collapse of the car market was due to India's lockdown measures, which were introduced in mid-March and are some of the strictest in the world. There is some hope of a recovery, with a number of the country's car plants beginning to resume production.

Meanwhile, as the automotive industry has worldwide, a number of Indian-based car manufacturers have been helping to aid coronavirus relief efforts in the country. Various firms have been providing financial support to care agencies and helping to manufacture ventilators and PPE. Our colleagues at Autocar India have outlined how car firms are helping here.

 Volkswagen South Africa will help turn a currently-unused car factory in Port Elizabeth into a temporary medical facility for patients with Covid-19. The Neave plant will be turned into a hospital for patients who require ventilation, and will eventually be able to house up to 4000 patients.

The German government is providing £4.5 million of funding for the facility, with VW South Africa adding £1.2 million. The plant will be available to the South African government until March 2021.

● Ford USA has begun to distribute the new Purified Air-Powering Respirators (PAPR) that it has designed and built at one of its Michigan plants with help from 3M. The device uses a number of off-the-shelf car parts, including elements from the F-150 pick-up's ventilated seats. The firm has assembled more than 10,000 of the devices, which it only started work on 40 days ago, and says it has the capacity to produce 100,000 if required.

The firm has also begun production of reusable gowns for healthcare workers. It is currently producing 200,000 a week, and has already sent out 400,000 to various healthcare providors across the USA. It has now received an order for 500,000 gowns from the state of New Jersey. 

Wednesday 6 May: BMW's car sales warning, Skoda supporting front-line fleet vehicles, Volkswagen's DIY disinfectant dispenser

● BMW has warned that it expects the coronavirus pandemic to affect demand for new cars for the remainder of 2020, even as lockdown restrictions are eased. BMW Group chairman has also cautioned that the industry shouldn't expect the European car market to recover as quickly as it has in China since lockdown measures were loosened there. Read the full story here.

● Skoda has taken a number of measures to support emergency services fleet customers of its 'blue light' vehicles on the road. The Czech firm supplies speciall modified Karoq, Kodiaq, Superb and Octavia vehicles to a number of emergency services and other frontline care providers. Demand for the vehicles has significantly increased, and Skod has both expanded its service and maintenance provisions for such vehicles, and sourced extra vehicles for a number of NHS trusts.

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● Volkswagen has now resumed production at many of its plants, and to do so has required the introduction of hundreds of new health and safety measures, including making disinfectant and sanitiser easily available to staff. To enable that, staff at its Emden factory, with produces the Passat and Arteon, have started producing their own disinfectant dispensers.

The unit (pictured below) uses a metal barrel as a body and contains 146 parts, most of which are sourced from existing stock. For example, the disinfectant nozzle is normally used in the Passat windscreen cleaner, and the stainless steel bowl for employees to wash hands in was previously used in the VW canteen's salad bar. The Emden plant is now making 100 of the units a week for use in other VW factories.

Tuesday 5 May: UK new car registrations slump, Ferrari production begins to resume at Maranello

● Fiat Chrysler Automobiles posted a net loss of €1.7 billion (£1.45 billion) in the first quarter of 2020. The group's brands, which include Alfa Romeo, Fiat and Jeep, sold a totla of 818,000 cars worldwide, down 21% on 2019 levels as various restrictions were put in place to tackle the coronavirus. Notably, those figures do not include April, where the firm's sales were even more dramatically reduced across various European countries.

FCA said it is currently preparing to resume production at several factories based on demand, local restrictions and the introduction of new health and safety measures, with boss Mike Manley saying that "I have the utmost confidence in our ability to navigate through this crisis and emerge wellpositioned to grow and prosper on the other side." FCA also said that it "remains committed" to its merger with the PSA Group, which is set to be finalised either late this year or in early 2021.

● UK new car registrations fell by 97.3% year-on-year in April 2020, with just 4321 cars sold due to coronavirus lockdown restrictions. The conclusion of a number of pre-ordered sales helped the Tesla Model 3 to top the sales charts, just ahead of the Jaguar I-Pace. Read the full story here.

● Ferrari has begun to open its Maranello factory in Italy today. Following a series of training sessions under its 'Back on Track' programme (see Friday 1 May) the supercar manufacturer will gradually ramp up production, with the aim to return to full output by Friday.

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Monday 4 May: UK car production resumes today, Dacia and Ford restart in Romania, 2021 F1 budget takes a hit

● Formula One managing director Ross Brawn claims the sport is in the final stages of agreeing a reduced spending cap for the 2021 season, dropped from $175m to $145m. Brawn says it is due to the economic consequences of the pandemic, sharply accelerating the need to cut costs further. 

 Car production is set to resume in the UK today for the first time since lockdown measures to tackle coronavirus were introduced, with Rolls-Royce beginning a staggered restart of its Goodwood facility. Read our story on how the company plans to resume work here.

 With Rolls-Royce opening its factory this week and Bentley due to follow suit on Monday 11 May, luxury firms are leading the way in getting the UK car industry up and running. Jim Holder analyses what that means here.

● Dacia and Ford have restarted production in Romania after output was halted in March. Ford builds the Ecosport small SUV there, while it's Dacia's main production hub where the Duster, Logan and Sandero are built. Ford has a single shift and about half its workers, while Dacia has three shifts workng on its mechanical and chassis lines. 

 The PSA Group has begun the phased resumption of manufacturing at various continental European plants. As with other firms, it has introduced a number of health and safety measures to protect staff including temperature checks, social distancing and the provision of masks and hand sanitiser. The firm says that the order in which it opens plants will be driven first by the ability to protect staff, and then by commercial demand for particular models produced at various sites.

 Porsche has also restarted car manufacturing today, with health and safety protocols in place so that production lines can limited work at both its Zuffenhausen and Leipzig plants in Germany. Fellow VW Group brand Bugatti has also restarted production of the Chiron and Divo at its Molsheim factory in France.

 Jaguar Land Rover says it is expanding its online sales services for UK buyers. The service, which has been gradually expanded over the last year, allows customers to spec and then order cars online, and includes facilities such as part-exchange valuations and finance applications.

The firm is also offering "tailored services" for vehicle deliveries that meet the UK government's social distancing and hygiene guidelines, with several dealerships set to introduce special handover bays.

 Autocar has learned that car industry executives have hed talks with UK government officials about including car dealerships in the first wave of 'non-essential' businesses allowed to open once officials start to ease lockdown measures. Read our exclusive story here.

 Need some lockdown entertainment? Got any cogs lying around? Then you could help Honda to recreate its famous 'cog' advert. It featured a chain of cogs and other parts all taken from a Honda Accord, and is one of five adverts that ITV has challenged the public to remark for a 'People's Ad Break' on Saturday 23 May.

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Friday 1 May: French new cars sales plummet, Italian supercar firms gear up to resume production

 With lockdown restrictions in place near-worldwide for the whole of April, we've been expecting new car sales to plummet - even compared to the sharp fall seen in March. That fear has been confirmed by new sales data from the French car industry body, the CCFA. They show that just 20,997 cars were sold in the country in April, an 88.8% decline on the 188,195 sales in April 2019.

The PSA Group sold 10,098 cars across its Citroën, DS, Opel and Peugeot brands, a fall of 84.4%. Group Renault (which includes Dacia and Alpine) sold 7148 new cars, a decline of 83.9%.

● Lamborghini is due to resume production at its Sant-Agata base on Monday 4 May, following work with government officials and trade unions to establish new safety protocols. The firm has also confirmed it will "present a new car in order to complete our model range" online on 7 May.

● Ferrari will begin its preparations to resume production at Maranello on Monday, launching what it calls its 'installation lap' programme. This will consist of safety training for employees who will be involved in car production, and will run alongside the firm's 'back on track' scheme that involves offering testing and screening to staff and their families.

● Ford has begun preparations for the resumption of car production at several of its continental European plants next week by increasing its output of facemarks and face shields for staff to use. Staff at Ford's Dunton, UK site have installed two machines that can make up to 90 general use face masks per minute, and which are now running constantly. Face masks are being made in Germany, Spain and Romania, and all will be distributed as needed around Ford's plants. 

● Morgan is the latest firm to confirm it will extend the warranty period of its vehicles. It has assed three months of full manufacturer warranty to any vehicle with a warranty start date from 1 October 2017 to any car registered until 31 May 2020.

Thursday 30 April: Nissan extends Sunderland shutdown, industry counts cost of sales slump, Hummer EV reveal delayed

● Nissan has extended the production halt at its Sunderland plant throughout May. It halted work at the facility on 17 March, and says that it is now “planning a phased resumption of production” in early June.

The firm recently started testing new health and safety protocols with a trial workforce on its powertrain team, the results of which will be used to finalise safety measures for a full production resumption.

In a statement Nissan said: “During this period the majority of plant employees will remain furloughed, and we are grateful for the government support that has enabled us to take this action.

“Our goal is to navigate through this crisis while maintaining activities critical for business continuity and to make sure we are prepared for the time when business resumes in Europe and we can welcome the Nissan team back to work.”

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The closure of UK car plants due to lockdown restrictions will cost the car industry £8.2 billion, according to new data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). Production fell 37.6% in March, with 140 days of production lost. Read the full story here.

● Global car sales fell 37% year-on-year in March, according to data from industry analysts Jato Dynamics. A total of 5.55 million cars were sold worldwide in March 2020, compared to 9.03 million last year. Europe was the hardest-hit region, with the impact of various lockdown restrictions causing sales to fall 52% to 848,800, the lowest March total for 38 years.

Notably, electric car sales in Europe continued to rise year-on-year, with the 147,500 EVs sold a 15% increase on 2019. That gave EVs a 17.4% share of the new car market, a new record.

There are some positive signs from China, which was the first country hit by the coronavirus and has begun to ease lockdown restrictions. Production in March reached 75% of average 2019 levels, and while the 1.08 million cars sold in March was 30% down on 2019, it also represented a 427% increase over February.

The new GMC Hummer EV is the latest new car to have its launch postponed because of the coronavirus. The 1000bhp electric SUV will be the first car from the revived brand, but parent company GM says it is still on track to go on sale in Autumn 2021. Read the full story here.

● Volkswagen has resumed work at a number of its plants in Europe, but has postponed plans to restart production at its US factory in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The firm said it has yet to set a new restart date, and "will weigh the readiness of the supplier base, as well as market demand and the status of the Covid-19 outbreak."

Wednesday 29 April: Ford sets days for European production restart, Bentley boss on returning to work, car firms facing sharp profit falls

● Ford has become the latest major brand to put dates on restarting production across its European facilities. The brand has confirmed that most plants will open on Monday, May 4, including its Saarlouis and Cologne plants in Germany, its Valencia plant in Spain and further factories in Romania and Turkey. 

Engine production will also commence, with only the Valencia engine plant holding off until 18 May. Its facilities in the UK, however, have not been given a specific date for reopening. Despite the news, Ford admits that it will be "a few months" before production output is ramped up to normal levels. 

Meanwhile, Ford is predicting an operating loss of around £4bn in the second quarter of 2020, due to the impact of production shutdowns and lockdown measures introduced to combat the coronavirus. The firm is understood to have indefinitely postponed plans for a number of new models as a result. Read the full story here.

● Bentley will begin to resume production at its Crewe factory next week. Autocar spoke to company boss Adrian Hallmark about the plans, and how the coronavirus outbreak has affected its 2020 plans. Read the full story and interview here.

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● The Volkswagen Group suffered an 81.4% drop in operating profits over the first three months of 2020 compared to last year - but the firm says it is still on track to post a profit, albeit greatly reduced, this year. Read the full story here.

Tuesday 28 April: Jaguar Land Rover ramps up protective visor production, why you'll need to move fast to bag a new car bargain

● Jaguar Land Rover is scaling up production of NHS-approved face visors at its Advanced Product Creation Centre in Gayden. The firm designed and began production of a 3D-printed visor recently (see Friday 3 April, below), and has now been supplied new tooling enabling it to increase output to 14,000 visors a week.

The new injection mould tooling has been supplied by WHS Plastics, and meant JLR can produce up to 2000 of the polypropylene devices per day. The visors have been supplied to NHS Trusts across the UK.

Jaguar Land Rover has also released the CAD files for the visors so that other manufacturers with suitable equipment can start to produce them. The files can be downloaded here.

● The UK lockdown has already prompted rushes to buy pasta, UHT milk, flour, home gym equipment and, in recent days, hair clippers. Could new cars be next? Jim Holder has talked to industry insiders who think pent-up demand for new vehicles could increase new car prices once dealer showrooms begin to open up again. Read his analysis here

Monday 27 April: Bentley's community support, no fans for British GP, European car production gradually resuming

● Bentley will supply more than 30,000 3D printed face shields to the Chesire care sector, NHS and other local community care service in the region as part of its expanded 'Be Safe' support programme (see Monday 20 April, below).

The face shields have been created by Bentley's engineering team, and deliveries will be made to all 95 care homes in the region of the firm's Cheshire base. Bentley has also donated 20,000 pairs of disposable gloves, 10,000 facemarks, 1000 disposable seat covers and more than 40 pairs of safety glasses to care providers in the region.

Bentley is also expanding its 'Meals on 22-inch Wheels' programme to deliver food and other essential items to vulnerable people in the community. Volunteers has begun delivering parcels for food banks and charities, and the service is now also delivering medical supplies.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has begun to restart its production plants in Italy, with the opening of the commercial vehicle plans in Atessa that it runs as a joint venture with the PSA Group. Most of the plants 6000 employees have returned to work today, with the entire plans having been cleaned and sanitised before their arrival. A number of social distancing and safety measures, agreed by FCA, PSA and Italian unions, will be put in place.

● Volkswagen is continuing to restart its plants, with its main factory in Wolfsburg resuming production of the Golf today. The firm says that 8000 staff will return to work today, with Golf production initially running at 10 to 15 per cent of capacity, which will be increased to 40 per cent next week. Production of the Volkswagen Tiguan and Touran and the Seat Tarraco will resume at Wolfsburg on Wednesday.

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● Formula 1 bosses say they are finalising plans for a 15-18 race 2020 season that will start in Austria in early July and finish in Abu Dhabi in December. The British Grand Prix remains on the calendar as the second event in July, but if it goes ahead it will do so without fans in attendance. Read the full story here.

● National motorsport in the UK is also making plans to resume. The British Touring Car Championship has released a provisional calendar that runs from August until mid-November and features nine events and 27 races. Read the full story here

● McLaren F1 driver Lando Norris has been keeping himself busy during the sport's enforced shutdown, racing in numerous online esports competitions. Last weekend he was a guest entrant in the IndyCar Series iRacing Challenge, and beat all the series regulars to take victory on the virtual Circuit of the Americas.

Friday 24 April: Volkswagen details ID 3 production, Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance cancelled

● Production of the crucial new Volkswagen ID 3 electric car has resumed at the firm's Zwickau plant today. The site is one of the first European VW car plants to start building models since the coronavirus shutdown, and follows the resumption of work at a number of component plants.

Due to the introduction of measures to ensure the safety of staff, including social distancing and regular cleaning, production of the electric hatch will initially be significantly slower. Volkswagen is aiming to built 50 cars a day initially, around one-third of usual output.

Volkswagen has also resumed work in its Chemnitz engine plant, with Golf and e-Golf production due to resume in Zwickau and Dresden on Monday 27 April.  

Thursday 23 April: Aston Martin announces cost cuts, production plans

● Jaguar Land Rover is aiming to resume production at its factories in Solihull, Austria and Slovakia on Monday 18 May. Read the full story here.

● Good news for car buyers: the UK government has told dealers that they can sell cars again - as long as they adhere to social distancing rules. Read the full story here.

● Volvo has extended its existing online sales platform with a new 'Stay Home Store' concept, allowing customers to browse "a series of attractive pre-negotiated prices and lease rates". More flexible payment options are also available, such as payment free loan periods or no down payment offers.

● Vauxhall has also highlighted that, while its dealerships remain closed, it is offering sales of new and used cars online during the Covid-19 outbreak. Cars cen be delivered to buyers homes in line with social distancing protocols.

 Aston Martin has announced a number of cost-saving measures, including voluntary pay reductions for senior leaders, and confirmation that it has furloughed ‘the majority’ of its workforce. Meanwhile, the firm is aiming to resume production at its St Athan facility on 5 May.

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The company says that is has furloughed the bulk of its workforce under the UK government job retention scheme, which offers workers up to 80% of their base salary, and will top up the pay of those affected from 1 May onwards to their regular levels.

At the same time, chief executive officer Andy Palmer and the firm’s non-executive directors will waive 35% of their salaries, with vice-presidents taking a 20% cut and other senior managers between five and 10%. New executive chairman Lawrence Stroll has elected to receive a nominal salary of £1 per annum.

Aston’s plan to resume production at St Athan will be aligned with Public Health Wales and England guidelines on safe working, and after it has worked with suppliers to ensure a steady parts supply. It says that a date for reopening its Gaydon plant will be set based on lessons it gains from the St Athan resumption.

● Nissan has begun manufacturing thousands of protective aprons for NHS workers at its Sunderland plant. Volunteers designed a manufacturing process in just eight days, allowing initial capacity of 18,000 aprons a week but with plns to increase that to 70,000 "within weeks". 

The plant already has 47,000 orders from local NHS trusts. The project continues alongside the plant's operation to supply visors to the NHS, of which up to 100,000 are said to have been distributed each week. 

● LEVC, the makers of the TX electrified London Taxi, has been forced to pause payments to its suppliers by enacting a 'force majeure' clause during the crisis. Its Coventry production line has been closed since March, and the temporary pause on payments is planned until at least May. 

Wednesday 22 April: Nissan to start Sunderland production pilot, Seat to give staff antigen tests as it opens facilities

 Nissan will begin preparations to resume production at its Sunderland plant with a pilot scheme to test new safety protocols.

The initial activity will involve around 50 staff – less than one per cent of the total workforce – from the powertrain team, who will resume work while adopting new health and safety measures. Reviews and feedback from the pilot will help to finalise safety measures adopted when vehicle production returns at a yet-to-be-determined date when restrictions allow. Nissan suspended production at its Sunderland plant on 17 March.

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Nissan is aiming to resume European production at three Spanish factories starting from April 27, including the resumption of pickup and powertrains at its Barcelona plant on 4 May.

 More than one million automotive industry employees have been affected by coronavirus factory shutdowns across the European Union and UK, according to the European Automobile Manufacturers Association (ACEA). It has complied data showing that 1,138,536 employees have been directly impacted by closures – including 64,455 in the UK – out of a total manufacturing workforce of around 2.6 million. The figures only include those directly involved in the manufacture of cars, trucks, vans and buses, and do not involve those who produce parts or other related items.

The ACEA has also calculated that the various European shutdowns have resulted in the 'lost' production of 2,068,832 vehicles, based on usual production levels. That includes lost production of 167,144 cars in the UK.

 Seat will carry out Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) tests on its 15,000 employees in order to enable it to resume production from Monday 27 April onwards - with the results also being used for a scientific study on the coronavirus.

The Barcelona-based firm will perform more than 3000 PCR antigen tests a week, which can tell if someone has contracted Covid-19, at its various plants in Spain, along with other Volkswagen Group factories in the country. A government-accredited laboratory will analyse the tests, which Seat says will have no impact on other testing programmes in the country.

Between 27 April and 4 May, Seat will resume one production shift per days on the three lines at its main Martorell facility, producing the Seat Ibiza, Seat Arona and Audi A1. To allow for social distancing and extra cleaning time, the lines will run at around one-third of usual capacity, producing about 325 cars a day. A second shift on each line is due to resume on 11 May, increasing production to around 650 cars per day, with Seat hoping to return to full production levels in June. With the reduced staffing requirements, the firm is negotiating a temporary layoff plan for workers who are not required.

 Nissan dealers are loaning out dealer demonstrator and courtesy cars for free use by NHS workers during the coronavirus outbreak. The initiative, which is being co-ordinated by Nissan UK, involves more than 30 dealers, with more than 100 Micra, Juke, Qashqai and Leaf models available.

Tuesday 21 April: PSA Group predicts European sales slump in 2020, Jaguar Land Rover confirms staff furloughs

 Jaguar Land Rover has confirmed that it has furloughed around half of its workforce under the UK government's Job Retention Scheme, with the firm's major executives also agreeing to temporary pay cuts. It comes as the firm reported its sales for the first three months of 2020 declined 30.9% compared to the same period last year, largely due to the effects of the coronavirus lockdown. Read the full story here.

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The PSA Group, which includes Citroën, DS, Peugeot and Vauxhall/Opel, is predicting that European car sales will shrink by 25% in 2020 due to the impact of the coronavirus. The firm has issued a new market outlook as part of its first quarter results. As well as falling by a quarter in Europe, PSA is anticipating that the automotive market will decline by 10% in China, 25% in Latin America and 20% in Russia this year.

PSA does note that "the outlook is currently difficult to assess and will depend on the scale, duration and geographic extent of the Covid-19 crisis."

The firm sold a total of 627,024 cars worldwide across all its brands during the first three months of the year, a fall of 29.2% compared to 2019. That included a 78.2% drop in sales in China and South East Asia, the first region to introduce major lockdown restrictions due to Covid-19. Sales in Europe, where restrictions were largely introduced in March, fell by 30.0%.

PSA’s various brands were all hit by differing amounts in Europe. Vauxhall/Opel sold 175,338 cars, a fall of 37.3%, Citroën sales dropped by 28.3% (146,288) and Peugeot by 25.7% (216,090). DS actually posted a 16.8% rise, with the far smaller brand selling 10,915 cars.

● MG is donating 30,000 facemasks, which it has sourced through its supply chain, to a number of hospitals in the UK and Ireland. It has already delivered 10,000 masks to the temporary NHS Nightingale Hospital Birmingham, and will also send 5000 each to two NHS trusts in South Wales, and 10,000 to hospitals in Dublin and Cork.

● Businesses in the Silverstone Technology Cluster, have joined forces to start production of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to aid healthcare workers in Northamptonshire. STC chair Roz Bird contacted 3000 businesses in the STC, all based at Silverstone Park or other locations close within an hour's drive of the British Grand Prix venue, to investigate ways to produce 14 iteams of PPE or help source the materials needed. More than 50 businesses are now working together to produce the PPE. The STC is still looking for more raw materials to further increase production levels.

Monday 20 April: Major European factories restart production, Bentley extends Cheshire community help

● Volkwagen has today restarted car production, initially at relatively low capacity, at its facilities in Zwickau, Germany and Bratislava, Slovakia. 

Notably, the Zwickau plant has been converted to produce electric cars on the VW Group MEB platform and is in the process of building the first ID 3 models – showing the importance to the firm of having that model on the market as close to the planned summer launch date as feasible.

● Volvo has also restarted production and opened its offices in Sweden - a country with a relatively low infection rate. Production output has been adjusted to reflect market demand. 

● Seat has announced it intends to restart production at its facilities in near Barcelona on 27th April. As with other VW Group firms restarting production, strict social distancing measures will be adhered to, while extra disinfection and cleaning of the worker areas will be put in place. 

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Bentley has extended its community support initiatives to help both its home town of Crewe and the wider Cheshire area. The firm's Meal on Wheels service is rolling out more company vehicles and vans to deliver both food and medicine. 

Seat covers are also being donated to Cheshire midwives, while 1000s of pairs of gloves have been given to the local community and Cheshire East council. Protective eyewear, normally used in the paintshop, has gone to the local hospital, while it has partnered with a company in Middlesborough to 3D print face shields. 

Friday 17 April: European sales collapse due to lockdowns, Volvo begins to resume production

 The PSA Group preparing for the eventual resumption of production at its Ellesmere Port Vauxhall facility, although it has yet to specify a date when that will happen. PSA says the factory has remained 'active' since production was halted, and a series of new protocols to reinforce health measures have been developed. PSA has invited the Unite union to review the measures before production resumes.

PSA says the measures include more than 100 steps, including checking employees for symptoms in addition to them self-monitoring. Glasses must be worn on site along with a daily supply of masks, social distancing measures will be introduced, tools will be frequently cleaned and there will be enforced waiting time when unprepared parts are exchanged. There is no indication on when production might resume at Ellesmere Port, which produces the Astra, but it is likely to be after the new three-week extension to the UK lockdown.

New car registrations across the European Union slumped by 55.1% year-on-year in March, according to data compiled by the European Automobile Manufacturers Association (EMEA). The EMEA, which represents 16 European car firms, says that 567,308 cars were sold across the 27 EU countries last month, compared to 1,264,569 in March 2019.

Italy, which suffered the first major COVID-19 outbreak in Europe and introduced tough lockdown restrictions earlier than other countries, suffered the biggest decline. The 28,326 cars sold in the country was down 85.4% year-on-year. Sales fell by 72.2% in France, 69.3% in Spain and 37.7% in Germany. That compared to a 44% decline in UK new cars sales in March.

The EMEA data shows that the Italian-US FCA Group took the biggest hit of any manufacturer. It sold 22,070 cars in March across its various brands including Fiat, Jeep and Alfa Romeo, a 76.6% year-on-year decline.

Meanwhile, the EMEA has called on car production to resume as soon as possible, and issued a series of guidelines for the re-launch of the industry in a co-ordinated fashion. They include calling on government to stimulate market demand by promoting fleet renewal schemes and streamlining type approval regulations.

● Volvo will restart production at its factories in Torslanda, near Gothenberg in Sweden, and Ghent in Belgium on Monday 20 April. It will also reopen its offices in Sweden. The firm says that both the factories and offices have been prepared to ensure staff are as safe as possible, while production output will be adjusted to reflect Volvo's current order books and market demand.

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Volvo is aiming to start production at its plant in Charleston, South Carolina on Monday 11 May.

● Ferrari is making both respirator values and fittings for protective masks at its Maranello factory. The values have been designed by diving equipment firm Mares to fit onto masks to assist patients suffering respiratory difficulties due to COVID-19. 

Ferrari is also supplying fittings to a firm called Solid Energy, which is using them to snorkel masks from sportswear store Decathlon so they can be used by healthcare workers. Distribution of the items made by Ferrari and other firms is being coordinated by the Italian Civil Protection to hospitals in Bermago, Genoa, Modena, Sassuolo and Medicina.

Thursday 16 April: Bentley shutdown extended, Nissan helping UK PPE distribution, Volkswagen gears up for production resumption

● Bentley has extended the shutdown of its Crewe factory for a further three weeks. The British manufacturer had initially aimed to resume work on Monday 20 April, but is now intending to begin the ramp-up of manufacturing on 11 May, will full production resuming a week later.

Bentley says the decision was made so it can ensure the health and safety of its staff, and then families. The three-week delay will likely be in line with the anticipated extention of the UK 'lockdown' set to be announced by the government later today.

● Nissan is using its experience of supply chain management at its Sunderland plant to aid mass distribution of face masks and other Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for frontline NHS workers and other carers. The firm has been taking delivery of 3D-printed visors produced by volunteers across the country, sorting them into packs of 125 and distributing to the NHS. It will send out more than 77,000 masks by the end of the week, and will be able to process 100,000 masks a week shortly.

The Sunderland plant's distribution project was inspired by Anthony and Chris Grilli, who work at the plant. Along with their two other brothers, the Grilli's crowd funded the purchase of a number of 3D printers to produce PPE at their homes. Nissan has now provided an injection moulding tool that can increase the number of parts produced.

● Volkswagen is working on plans to restart its production operations in Europe. It will start by resuming work at its plants in Zwickau, Germany and Bratislava, Slovakia on Monday 20 April, with its remaining German plants and those in Portugal, Spain, Russia and the USA scheduled to resume on 27 April. It aims to open factories in South Africa, Argentina, Brazil and Mexico during May.

Volkswagen chief operating officer Ralf Brandstatter said the firm has spent three weeks developing a plan for the resumption of production, which includes a "comprehensive catalogue of measures" to protect the health of employees.

The firm has developed a 100-point plan, which it says it based on experience from China, where 32 of its 33 plants have now resumed production and no staff members have since reported coronavirus cases.

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How exactly are UK autmotive firms turning their skills to the production of ventilators and other medical equipment. Autocar spoke to Williams Advanced Engineering about its part in the VentilatorChallenge UK consortium to find out. Read the full story here.

● Ford is testing an innovative solution to aid the safe resumpition of production at its plants: a social distance-monitoring wristband that buzzes in warning if employees come nearer than six feet of each other. The device is being tested by Ford employees at its Plymouth, Michigan facility.

Wednesday 15 April: Audi, Renault start reopening factories, Vauxhall repair costs slashed

● Daimler and Suzuki have also announced plans to restart some manufacturing operations in Hungary. The country is particularly dependent on its various car factories, which have been shut down for weeks due to the pandemic. The facilities will be gradually brought back online to ensure the risk of spreading the virus is kept to a minimum. 

● Audi joined Hyundai in announcing plans to resume some production in Europe, even though much of the continent remains on lockdown. Bloomberg reports that the premium German brand now has around 100 workers in its Györ, Hungary engine site, working in a single shift system. A second line is expected to open up by the end of this week. 

● Renault will also restart some of its operations at its Portugal plant. The French firm also claims it wants to resume production in Romania by the end of the week. 

● Vauxhall has slashed the cost of servicing and repairs at its dealer network, while also prioritising key workers and NHS staff. Two new pricing structures are offered: Vauxhall Genuine for those who want only genuine manufacturer parts, and Vauxhall approved for those who are happy to save money and have 'approved' parts fitted with a two-year parts and labour warranty. 

Tuesday 14 April: Ford's face shield milestone, Hyundai begins production once again

● Hyundai is one of the first major carmakers in Europe to restart production at its plant in Nošovch, Czech Rublic. The facility usually produces the i30, alongside other models, and had been closed as part of a continent-wide lockdown. The country has eased lockdown restrictions as cases fall.

● Ford USA says it has already produced more than three million face shields to support health care and emergency services in the USA, and has also begun efforts to scale up production of reusable protective gowns.

The firm will also begin production today of a Powered Air-Purifying Respirator (PAPR) device that it has developed with 3M at its Plymouth, Michigan plant. It is also helping Thermo Fisher Scientific increase production of Covid-19 test collection kits.

● Ferrari has extended the shutdown of its Maranello factory until 3 May, in line with the latest instructions of the Italian government.

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Despite the delay, Ferrari will continue to ramp up its 'Back on Track' project to ensure the health and safety of its staff. It included voluntary screening of all employees, their families and the staff of suppliers. It is also offering free insurance cover for employees and, if needed, accommodation suitable for self-isolation and medical and nursing support at home.

Friday 10 April: Aston Martin and Rolls-Royce join PPE production efforts to aid NHS staff

● Aston Martin is working with engineering firm Multimatic and research organisation the Manufacturing Technology Centre to design and produce a range of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to assist NHS staff.

The firms are collaborating on a new intubation shield that can help protect medical staff who are intubating and extubating patients with COVID-19. The new device is effectively a one-piece Perspex box that is placed over the patient’s upper body, and is designed to be stacked to take up less space. The new machines are being produced at the MTC, with Aston Martin using cutting machines at its Gaydon plant normally used to craft leather to cut silicone components used for the box. The device is currently being trialled at the Royal London Hospital.

Aston Martin is also using its 3D printers to produce around 150 protective visors a week, and is working with Warwick Hospital to develop a new protective visor that meets NHS guidelines. The firm will also start to produce up to 750 gowns a week for medical staff in Warwickshire hospitals.

Technicians at Aston Martin Works in Newport Pagnell are providing emergency vehicle repairs to NHS staff at Milton Keynes University Hospital.

● Rolls-Royce is producing face visor kits at its Goodwood factory that are being provided to local NHS staff, as first reported by the Chichester Observer. The firm is also understood to have released its fleet of 30 cars to local charities and NHS services to assist in essential deliveries to those in need.

● Ferrari has provided more details of the steps it is taking to protect works ahead of the planned reopening its its Maranello factory next week. Under the 'Back on Track' scheme the firm is offering voluntary screening with blood tests to all employees, their families and the staff of suppliers, so they can see if they are carrying coronavirus.

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The firm will also use an app to offer medical support for staff to monitor virus symptoms and to help contact tracing in the case of any positive cases of COVID-19. Any employees who tests positive will be offered free insurance cover, accommodation suitable for self-isolation and medical and nursing support at home. 

● 22 staff from Vauxhall's Luton Vivaro van plant has been loaned to Smiths Medical to help the firm ramp up production of its NHS-approved ventilators. The 20 assemblers, team leader and supervisor were picked from Vauxhall's workforce for their specialist production skills. They have been seconded to Smiths Medical's Luton facility until 31 July.

Leading British engineering firm Envisage has designed and built a new portable ventilator that uses off-the-shelf medical components. The device was produced with the assistance of management consultancy Vendigital and healthcare regulatory firm Woodley BioReg, and was provided in response to the government call for assistance in the production of more ventilators for the NHS.

Thursday 9 April: Jaguar Land Rover and Ford increase support for emergency services, production to restart

● Daimler plans to restart production at some of its German plants as early as 20 April, as demand for cars from China is on the rebound. Car factories in Sindelfingen and Bremen are to resume work, alongside some van factories. However, the maker is extending shorter hours for German workers until the end of the month.

● Audi also plans to resume production at its factories in Neckarsulm, Germany and Brussels, Belgium on 20 April. The former produces the A4, A5, A6, A7 and A8, while the latter builds the E-tron electric SUV. 

● Fiat Chrysler (FCA) has begun discussions with unions on restarting production in Italy as soon as the national shutdown is ended. The current shutdown expires on 13 April, and some reports indicate it may not be renewed as the country is over the peak of cases. FCA is discussing stringent health measures to put in place if it restarts production at that time.

● Jaguar Land Rover has expanded its support for emergency response organisations around the world by increasing the number of vehicles it is loaning to support services and commencing deliveries of 3D-printed protective visors.

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The firm had already loaned more than 160 vehicles from its press fleet to organisations including the British Red Cross and National Health Service (see Tuesday 31 March below) and has now deployed 312 vehicles globally. They include a total of 210 in the UK, 14 of which are being used by the West Midlands Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust to help test staff isolating with coronavirus symptoms. The firm has also loaned vehicles to Red Cross branches and other organisations in Spain, Australia, South Africa, Brazil, Canada, Italy, the Netherlands, Russia, Germany and Belgium.

Jaguar Land Rover has also started delivering to NHS staff 3D-printed protective visors that it designed (see Friday 3 April below) and is producing at its Gayden base. It's aiming to produce around 5000 masks per week in the UK. It has also made the files open-source so other firms can produce the visors. Jaguar Land Rover Brazil has also started producing the visors at its facility in Rio de Janeiro.

● Ford UK has loaned around 200 vehicles from its marketing and sales fleet to the NHS and other organisations. It has provided 203 cars to 40 different organisations, including 10 NHS ambulance trusts, the British Red Cross and St John Ambulance.

It has also loaned vehicles to care homes, police forces and local councils, among other groups. Ford is also working with service partner DHL to provide logistical support to the East of England Ambulance Service's fleet team.

● Nissan has become the latest car firm to offer free roadside assistance to NHS and key workers driving any of its vehicles, regardless of its age or warranty coverage. It has also confirmed that vehicle warranties will be honoured if UK customers miss a scheduled service or repair work due to the ongoing lockdown.

● The Volkswagen Group has donated 1 million (£860,000) to provide emergency relief for refugees in Syria, Turkey and Greece who are threatened by the coronavirus pandemic. The fund will be distributed via the German Red Cross and will be used to buy and distribute food and medical supplies, as well as providing training and equipment for volunteers.

 General Motors and partner Ventec Life Systems have secured a $489.4m (£389m) contract with the US government to produce 30,000 ventilators by the end of August. The units will be based on a Ventec design and produced at GM's Indiana plant. A fifth of the order is due to delivered by 1 June.

GM had previously attracted the ire of president Donald Trump, who had accused it of not responding to the coronavirus outbreak and threatened to invoke the Defence Production Act to compel it to make ventilators. However, Bloomberg reports that GM and Ventec had already been working on the ventilator project for more than a week at the time of Trump's statements.

● Toyota has extended the production shutdown at all its North American factories until at least 1 May.

Wednesday 8 April: F1 season delayed further as Canadian GP postponed, Dacia deliveries

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● The Canadian Grand Prix scheduled for 14 June has been postponed, further pushing back the earliest start date for the 2020 Formula 1 season. The French GP at Paul Ricard, due to run on28 June, is now the provisional season-opener, although F1 bosses are working on a revised timetable with a plan to hold 15-18 races.

British GP bosses have previously said they will decide by the end of April whether the event can go ahead at Silverstone as scheduled on 19 July. Circuit officials have also said they are open to holding multiple races in 2020 if needed. Full story here.

● Meanwhile, F1 bosses have extended the current factory shutdown period by a further two weeks. They had brought forward the traditional 14-day summer factory shutdown to allow races to potentially be held in August. That shutdown has now been extended twice, meaning teams must have shut their design, research and development, production and similar departments for 35 consecutive days between March and May this year.

A number of UK-based F1 teams, including McLaren, Williams and Racing Point, have placed a number of staff on the government's furlough scheme, while senior staff and drivers have taken temporary pay cuts.

● Dacia has scrapped the £250 home delivery cost for customers using its online shopping platform. Anyone who orders a car on the service now will receive priority when the firm's dealerships are allowed to open.

Tuesday 7 April: UCL and Mercedes-AMG F1 make breathing aid design freely available

 The designs for a new breathing aid developed by UCL and Mercedes-AMG High Performance Powertrains, which makes the power units used by the F1 team, have been made freely available so that they can be produced elsewhere in the world. Mercedes-AMG HPP has now dedicated its entire factory in Brixworth, Northants to production of the unit. Full story here.

Monday 6 April: Former McLaren boss to aid NHS workers with food, new Beijing motor show date

 Former McLaren boss Ron Dennis has launched an initiative to supply a million free meals to NHS front-line staff treating coronavirus patients. The SalutetheNHS.org scheme was launched with £1 million of funding from Dennis's Dreamchasing charity fund, and is headed by Dennis and Nigel Harris, the boss of catering firm Absolute Taste (which Dennis co-founded).

Meals will be made by ingredients supplied by Tesco and Absolute Taste, and delivered to hospitals nationwide, starting with the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford and Great Ormond Street.

 UK new car sales slumped by 44.4 per cent year-on-year in March as a result of the coronavirus lockdown that was in place for much of the month. Full story here. With the restrictions remaining in place, those involved in the UK industry can look to China for examples on how to spark a recover post-lockdown. Read our analysis here. Meanwhile, new car sales didn't just fall sharply in March in the UK: in Germany they dropped by 38% year-on-year, according to the registrations authority there.

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 The BMW Group sold 477,111 cars worldwide in the first three months of this year across the BMW, Mini and Rolls-Royce brands, a drop of 20.6% on the first three months of 2019. That drop included a 30.9% slump in China, where the impact of coronavirus was felt earlier, but the firm said sales there recovered in March. European sales were down 18.3%.

 The postponed Beijing motor show, originallay due to run later this month, has been rescheduled until September this year. Full story here.

 Hyundai UK has extended warranties by 1500 miles/three months for customers whose coverage was set to expire in March, April or May 2020. A spokesperson said the offer could be extended, depending on how long the lockdown lasts. 

Friday 3 April: Jaguar Land Rover's visors, more help for NHS workers

 Jaguar Land Rover has begun production of reusable NHS-approved protective visors, with the goal of eventually producing 5000 of the units a week.

The new visor has been designed at the Advanced Production Creation Centre in Gayden in consultation with NHS staff, with Jaguar Land Rover initially aiming to produce 1300 units per week using its prototype build operations. It will then work with other companies, including Pro2Pro in Telford to further increase production.

The visors has been tested by staff at the Great Western Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and South Warwickshire NHS Foundation Trust. The device is designed to be easily dismantled and cleaned so that it can be used again, helping to combat equipment shortages.

Jaguar Land Rover intends to make the open source CAD design files available to other manufacturers, so they can print further visors.

 Toyota and Lexus are offering free roadside assistance to all key workers who drive one of their cars or vans, regardless of its age. The firms have teamed with the AA for the initiative, which will be available until further notice. 

Meanwhile, the Japanese firms have given owners of their new or recently bought vehicles three extra months of roadside assistance cover free.

 Peugeot, Citroën and DS will join fellow PSA Group brand Vauxhall (see below) in offering its roadside assistance programme to all NHS workers who drive one of their vehicles, regardless of age. The brands say they have also increased goodwill payments to NHS workers whose vehicles are no longer within warranty.

 Ford UK has taken several steps to aid healthcare workers, local authorities, charities and volunteers, including loaning around 170 of its vehicles to support transport efforts.

It has also donated personal protective equipment (PPE) from its plants to local healthcare authorities, with its Bridgend engine plant donating 13,500 pairs of gloves, 150 disposable safety suit and a large stock of protective glasses. Meanwhile, Ford's Dunton plant is currently trialling the fabrication of protective face shields.

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Ford has also confimed it will extend the suspension of vehicle and engine production at most of its European manufacturing sites until at least 4 May. The firm initially halted work at the plants on 17 March.

Thursday 2 April: Vauxhall supports NHS workers

 Nissan has extended the production halt at its Sunderland plant "throughout April". Production has been suspended at the factory since 17 March, and Nissan says the majority of employees have been furloughed under the UK government scheme.

The Japanese firm has also suspended production at its Spanish plants, introducing 'Force Majeure' temporary lay off measures at its sites in Cataluny and Cantabria.

In a statement, Nissan said it was "grateful for the financial assistance offered by national governments to support our 15,000 direct employees in Europe, our partner companies and suppliers." 

 Vauxhall has extended its Roadside Assistance programme, usually reserved for owners of new cars, to all Vauxhall-driving NHS workers.

The move means NHS staff can call the manufacturer in the event of a breakdown, be it at home or on the road, and have their car repaired or recovered to an approved Vauxhall workshop. The offer is extended to all Vauxhalls, regardless of age, mileage and service history.

 Williams Advanced Engineering is one of a number of car firms part of a consortium helping to re-engineer an existing ventilator design in response to the Ventilator Challenge UK project.

The firm, which was formed by the Williams F1 team to apply technology it had developed in other industries, is working with firms including McLaren, Airbus, Rolls-Royce, Siemens and BAR Systems to re-engineer a Smiths Group ParaPAC300 ventilator design in order to rapidly manufacture 5000 units for the NHS. More than 50 WAE staff members have been involved in the project, with the firm developing 3D CAD modelling, re-engineering test equipment and working on rapid prototype development.

 Skoda is helping charities and volunteers in the Czech Republic by giving them free access to more than 200 vehicles and 150 electric scooters used by its HoppyGo car sharing platform. The firm is also working with the Czech Technical University in Prague to develop a 3D printing process to produce ventilators.

 This weekend should have been the inaugural Vietnam Grand Prix, so the sport's bosses are staging a second F1 Esport Virtual Grand Prix. Five current F1 drivers have signed up so far: Charles Leclerc, Lando Norris, Alex Albon, George Russell and Nicholas Latifi. 

Those five will be joined by an assortment of random guest stars including F1 race winner Johnny Herbert (who led the first Virtual GP after massively cutting the first turn) and cricket star Ben Stokes. With the new Hanoi circuit not featured in the F1 2019 game, this weekend's event will be staged on the Albert Park circuit used for the Australian GP. The event starts at 2000hrs on Sunday, with coverage on Sky Sports F1.

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 If you're looking for distractions to fill your new-found time at home, why not configure your dream Bentley? Autocar has set up a competition for those who do, and you could win a tour of the British firm's Crewe factory. Click here for full details.

Wednesday 1 April: Seat's windscreen wiper-powered ventilator

 Seat is the latest car brand to start producing ventilators, having started producing units at its Martorell factory near Barcelona for local healthcare authorities.

The automated ventilators were designed by a team of engineers, and are now undergoing final testing before approval is given for mass production. The ventilators use a number of parts adapted from Seat cars, including windscreen wiper motors, gearbox shafts and printed gears. 150 employees will produce them.

 Volkswagen has extended the production suspension at its German factories by five days, saying the decision is primarily due to the sharp fall in demand for new cars and supply chain issues.

The firm is now intending to resume production at its car and components plants on 19 April, and says it is working on a number of measures to ensure the health and safety of staff.

Tuesday 31 March: Jaguar Land Rover lends out press fleet, Lamborghini makes masks, PSA helping ventilators

 Jaguar Land Rover is lending more than 160 vehicles to organisiations including the British Red Cross and National Health Service to help deliver essential supplies to vulnerable people. The vehicles are taken from the firm's press fleet, and include 27 examples of the new Defender. Full story here.

● Lamborghini is helping the health service in Italy by producing surgical masks and plexiglass shields at its Sant-Agata factory. The Italian firm's in-house saddlery is currently producing 1000 masks a day, which are being donated to the Sant'Orsola-Malpighi Hospital in Bologna.

The plexiglass shields are being produced at a rate of 200 units a day using 3D printers in Lamborghini's carbon fibre production plant and research and development centre.

● In the United States, GM is also temporarily moving into face mask production, having developed a new production line for them in seven days. It expects to deliver 20,000 masks by 8 April and says that, when up to speed, it will be able to produce 1.5 million masks a month.

● The PSA Group is part of a consortium that is aiming to produce 10,000 ventilators in response to requests by the French government. PSA, whose brands include Citroen, DS, Peugeot and Vauxhall/Opel, is working with Schneider Electric and Valet to help ventilator firm Air Liquide dramatically scale up its production capabilities.

PSA has been working on the project sine 22 March, and will produce components for the ventilators that will be assembled at Air Liquide's base, where a number of PSA employee volunteers will be working.

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 Ford has provided an update on its efforts to work with GE Healthcare to produce a third-party ventilator. The firm will begin production of a ventilator design licensed from medical firm Airon at its Rawsonville Components Plant in Michigan, with the target of producing 50,000 within 100 days – and 30,000 a month from then on, if needed.

Meanwhile, Ford has delayed plans to resume car production at its other North America plants. It has initially planned on resuming production at various dates between 6 and 14 April, but these will now be pushed back.

Monday 30 March: Car and motorsport industries ramp up efforts to help NHS, Detroit show postponed

● The Paris motor show due to be held in September has cancelled, although event organisers are still planning to run a number of smaller 'festival' and business-to-business events. Full story here.

The Mercedes F1 team's Brixworth-based powertrain division has helped UCL to develop a new breathing aid that can help keep COVID-19 patients out of intensive care. The device took around 100 hours to develop, and is set to begin clinical trials soon.

Meanwhile, a consortium that included Ford and the seven UK-based Formula 1 teams has received more than 10,000 orders for ventilators from the UK government, after the rapid development of a version that it can produce quickly to scale. Read the full story on both initiatives here.

● The Detroit motor show is the latest major automotive event to be axed due to the coronavirus outbreak. America's longest running motor show was due to switch to a new June date this year, but organisers anticipate the exhibition centre in which it is due to be held being turned into a temporary hospital by the US Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). It is one of more than 100 convention centres and similar facilities across the USA earmarked for such use.

That means the first summer Detroit show will be delayed until 2021, when it is planned to run on 14-26 June. The cornavirus pandemic has already led to the cancellation of this year's Geneva motor show, with the Beijing and New York shows both postponed.

● The PSA Group initially suspended production at all its plants, including the Vauxhall factories in Luton and Ellesmere Port, until 27 March, but it has moved this back to a new, unspecified date due to the continued impact of the coronavirus.

PSA says it is developing a new health protocol to reinforce preventive measures for when production does resume. Steps will include regularly taking temperatures, wearing of masks on site, hourly cleaning of tools and work surfaces, and a three-hour waiting time during exchanges of parts.

● Volkswagen will release all of its employees in Germany with medical qualifications who volunteer to work in the country's public health service with full pay for up to 15 days. 

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The firm has also arranged for around £35 million worth of medical equipment to be shipped from China to Germany, where it will be distributed to medical facilities in the Lower Saxony region.

Friday 27 March: Ferrari plots return to production

● Some positive news from Italy: Ferrari is planning to resume production at its Maranello plant on 14 April. Full story here.

● Seven UK-based Formula 1 teams – Red Bull, Racing Point, Haas, McLaren, Mercedes-AMG, Renault and Williams – have put their rivalry on hold to form the Project Pitlane initiative, responding to the UK government's call for help producing medical equipment. The teams claim to have made "significant progress" in three areas: reverse engineering existing medical devices so they can be used to treat COVID-19 patients; support in scaling production of existing ventilator designs; and the rapid design and prototyping of a new ventilator design.

In a statement, the teams said they would "pool the resources and capabilities of its member teams to greatest effect, focusing on the core skills of the F1 industry: rapid design, prototype manufacture, test and skilled assembly." They added that they "remain ready to support in other areas requiring rapid, innovative technology responses to the unique challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic."

Thursday 26 March: MG loans EVs to NHS, Goodwood Festival of Speed delayed

● MG will supply up to 100 electric ZS models to National Health Service agencies, to support the fight against coronavirus by adding transport capacity. The machines will be loaned free-of-charge for up to six month, with distribution done by MG dealers. The first six models have been supplied to Lancashire and South Cumbria NHS Trust.

One of the biggest events on the UK motoring calendar, the Goodwood Festival of Speed, has been postponed. The event was due to be held in July, but organisers are now looking at dates in late summer or early autumn. Full story here.

Meanwhile, one of the biggest events of the US motorsport calendar, the Indianapolis 500, has also been postponed. The 104th running of the flagship event of the IndyCar Series has been switched from 24 May to 23 August. It will be the first time in the events history that it has taken place outside of May. The event has only previously not been held during the First and Second World Wars.

The Indy 500 is the culmination of a month-long build-up, which traditionally kicks off with an IndyCar race on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway's road course. That event has now moved to the weekend of 4 July, where it will be held as part of a double-header with the Nascar stock car race on the oval. It will be the first time America's top two motorsport championships have run at the same circuit.

Tuesday 24 March: Aston Martin, McLaren and Morgan close plants

● Aston Martin, McLaren and Morgan have all suspended production at their UK plants following the latest government advice thar people should minimise travel and only leave their homes for essential work. Read the full story here.

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● Trying to work out exactly what the coronavirus outbreak means for motorists? Click here to read our essential advice for drivers during the Covid-19 pandemic.

● Around the world, the car industry is stepping in to help with production of ventilators and other medical apparatus in a bid to combat the coronavirus. The UK government continues to work with a number of firms, and in the USA Ford has teamed up with 3M to start manufacturing Powered Air-Purifying Respirators, using off-the-shelf parts used, in part for the seat-cooling systems of the F-150 pick-up.

Ford is also working with GE Healthcare to produce a simplified version of GE's ventilator. It is also starting to assemble more than 100,000 face masks for healthcare workers.

Meanwhile, Tesla's Elon Musk says he bought 1255 ventilators from China and donated them to medical staff in Los Angeles. Musk says China had an oversupply of the ventilators. Tesla, along with GM and Ford, is believed to be in talks with the US government about ventilator production.

The Azerbaijan Grand Prix, which had been due to take place on 7 June, is the latest Formula 1 race to be postponed. That means the Canadian GP on 14 June is the first scheduled event, although it also seems likely to be postponed. F1 bosses say they are still aiming to hold a 15-18 race season, both by racing during the usual August summer break and extending the season past late November.

● The UK motorsport calendar is also continuing to be hit by the coronavirus pandemic. Motorsport UK, which governs the sport in the country, has said it will extend the suspension of permits for motorsport events until at least 30 June. Motorsport UK chairman David Richards said the body "has a vital role to play with its community in reinforcing that, at this time of national emergency, we must all stay at home to play our part in protecting the NHS and ultimately saving lives."

He added: "The government have required that we effectively lock-down for a period of three weeks, however given that the most vulnerable in our society are required to isolate for three months, it is evident that the most responsible course of action was to propose a longer suspension of our sport.  When we reflect back on this time, it will be a brief, but vital, hiatus from our everyday motorsport life and we must put this in perspective."

● In line with Motorsport UK's decision, the British Touring Car Championship has now postponed the first five events of its season, with the events at Thruxton on 17 May and Oulton Park on 14 June now delayed.

Monday 23 March: More plant closures, US car firms to start ventilator production

● Driving tests and MOTs for heavy vehicles have been suspended for up to three months in England, Scotland and Wales. The move mirrors a separate decision made by the government in Northern Ireland. The UK government says people scheduled to take a test that has now been cancelled will be given first priority when they resume. But tests will still run for workers who have a critical need, including NHS staff and goods delivery drivers.

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The MOT suspension applies only to heavy vehicles, such as buses, lorries and trailers. Any vehicles with a test due in this period will be issued with a Certificate of Temporary Extension (CTE). MOTs for cars remain running but "under review" with the Department for Transport promising "an update in due course."

● Ford's Dagenham engine plant will be closed from today onwards, with the Bridgend engine plant in Wales following suit on Wednesday. The break in operations is currently scheduled for a four-week period, with the firm bringing forward its regular summer closure. The shutdown will be extended across non-business critical Ford UK operations, and workers will receive "payments at least equivalent to their base pay."

Transport for London is suspending all road charging schemes in the capital from today, to ensure critical workers – especially those in the NHS – and supply deliveries can travel more freely. The move means drivers will no longer have to pay the Congestion Charge, Low Emission Zone or Ultra Low Emission Zone fees. TFL noted that it was key to keep the roads clear for emergency services and critical workers, urging people to travel as little as possible.

● In similar fashion to efforts seen in the UK, leading American car firms are set to step in to assist with ventilator production in the United States. In a tweet, US President Donald Trump said that Ford, GM and Tesla "are being given the go ahead" to make ventilators and other metal products. Few further specifics of what role the cars firms will play have yet to be announced. 

Friday 20 March: Jaguar Land Rover and Bentley close plants, China's lesson for the industry

● Jaguar Land Rover and Bentley have both closed their UK plants, effectively halting mainstream car production in the UK. Both firms are aiming to reopen their facilities on 20 April. Full story here.

● With the UK and wider European car production effectively shut down, automotive companies are facing huge financial challenges. So how can they cope? Some answers could be found in China, where the industry is slowly recovering as the country begins to get back to business as the number of coronavirus cases in the country declines. Jim Holder spoke to some car industry sources to pick up some tips. Read his in-depth analysis here.

● Volvo will close its plants in its home country of Sweden and Charleston, South Carolina from 26 March until 14 April to protect its workforce. It has already closed its Belgium factory, which will not reopen until at least 5 April. Volvo's Chinese plant reopened earlier this month.

New Formula 1 technical rules due to be introduced next season have been delayed until 2022, to enable the tean teams to better soften the financial hit from the disrupted 2020 season. This year's championship won't begin until at least June after the first seven races of the year were either cancelled or postponed. Full story on the new rules delay here.

● If you're missing out on your Formula 1 fix, championship bosses have launched a Virtual Grand Prix esports series. Races will be held in place of every postponed or cancelled 2020 race, starting with the Bahrain Grand Prix this Sunday. Run using the PC version of F1 2019, this weekend's event will run on the Bahrain circuit and last 28 laps, half the F1 race distance. Races held on circuits not featured in F1 2019 will be replaced with alternative venues.

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Oh, and the performance of all the cars in the game will be equalised, so Mercedes will be unable to run a virtual version of its controversial Dual Axis Steering system...

Thursday 19 March: Honda closes UK plant, driving tests postponed and more F1 races delayed

● Honda has suspended production at its UK plant, where the Civic hatch is built, "in light of increasing difficulties with supply chains and considering the wellbeing" or staff. The firm says it intends to restart production on 6 April, dependent on government advice and market conditions.

● Formula 1 bosses have officially postponed the Dutch, Spanish and Monaco grand prix. The expected postponement of the events, due to be held on the 3, 10 and 24 May respectively, means the season is now scheduled to start with the Azerbaijan Grand Prix on 7 June. F1 bosses are "studying the viability of potential alternative dates" for the races, having previously said they still hope to run a calendar or 17 or 18 races this year.

The Driving Vehicle Standards Agency has postponed all driving tests in the UK due to take place today and tomorrow. In Northern Ireland, driving tests have been suspended for three months.

Both Ford and GM will suspend production at their North American factories until at least 30 March. The two firms say they will take the time to clean and sanitise their plants in the USA, Canada and Mexico, and both are in talks with unions about keeping workers safe when production resumes. Audi has also suspended production in its Mexico plant due to supply chain issues.

● Hyundai has suspended production at its US factory in Alabama after a worker tested positive for Covid-19. The firm is working with local officials to sanitise the site and determining when it it safe for production to resume. 

● With the motorsport world on hold, several race organisers are working with 'virtual' Esports series to help fill the gap. After a successful event last weekend featuring drivers such as Max Verstappen, Torque Esports will run a second All-Star Esports Battle at 1700hrs on Saturday 21 March.

Meanwhile Nascar, which already sanctions an official iRacing championship, has set up a new eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series. It says the new series will be contested by a mix of current drivers from its various series, along with 'Nascar dignitaries'. The first event will be held on the virtual Homestead-Miami Speedway at 1730hrs UK time on Sunday 22 March.

● The Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles has closed due to Covid-19, but will offer entertainment to anyone stuck at home by streaming hour-long virtual tours of its Vault. The 'tours' will cost $3 each, with the proceeds going to support staff. For a look at the Petersen exhibits in the main museum, check out Autocar's slideshow here.

Wednesday 18 March: Rolls-Royce and Toyota close UK plants as European industry shuts down

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The Le Mans 24 Hours has been moved back from its planned 13/14 June date until 19/20 September. The organisers say the delay will involve rescheduling several of rounds of the FIA World Endurance Championship.

The world's most prestigious endurance race was first held in May 1923, but has since been run in June, with two exceptions. In 1956 the event was held in July, while in 1968 civil unrest in France caused the event to be delayed until September. The race has been cancelled ten times: in 1936 due to a labour strike, and between 1940 and 1948 due to World War Two. 

● Rolls-Royce has confirmed it will suspend production at its Goodwood manufacturing plant from Monda 23 March. The suspension is currently planned for two weeks, and leads into the already scheduled two-week Easter maintenance shutdown. It added that day-to-day operations will be assured by non-production staff at the company's head office, or working remotely.

Company boss Torsten Müller-Ötvös said: “This action has not been taken lightly, but the health and well-being of our exceptional workforce is first and foremost in our minds.  We are a tight-knit community at the Home of Rolls‑Royce and I have no doubt that our resilience will shine through during this extraordinary time.

"As a deeply customer-focused company we are aware that this decision to pause our production will possibly cause some discomfort or inconvenience to a few of our esteemed patrons, for which we apologise while seeking their understanding at this difficult time.”

● Porsche has announced that it will stop production for an initial period of two weeks. The decision will affects its Zuffenhausen and Leipzig plants in Germany, with the suspension starting from Saturday 21 March. The firm cited the protection of its personnel due to coronavirus, but added that bottlenecks in its supply chain no longer enabled "orderly production". The firm also said it is anticipating a decline in demand.

● Toyota is suspending production at all of its European plants, including its two UK facilities in Burnaston, Derbyshire and Deeside, Flintshire. Full story here.

 The BMW Group is also in the process of halting production at all of its European factories, along with its site in South Africa. They will all be closed by the end of the week, and is currently scheduled to last until 19 April.

 Honda will suspend production at all of its North American plants for six days from 23 March, due to an "anticipated decline in market demand". It said it will continue to pay staff fully during the suspension, and will also utilise the period to enhance deep cleaning measures. The move will affect plants in the USA, Canada and Mexico.

 The Tesla factory in Fremont, California is set to be forced to close, with officials in Alameda County having reportedly determined it is a "non-essential" business. The plant was originally set to stay open despite a "stay at home" order in the county, but county spokesperson Sargeant Ray Kelly told The Mercury News: "If Tesla was a hospital, if Tesla was a laundromat, if Tesla was a mechanic shop, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. But Tesla makes cars, and that’s not essential for us to get through this health crisis.”

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Tuesday 17 March: Ford and VW Group announce plant closures

● Ford will suspend production at its factories in continental Europe from Thursday 19 March. The decision, which the firm expects "will continue for a number of weeks" will affect two plants in Germany and one in Romania. The firm has already suspended production at its Valencia factory after three workers were confirmed with coronavirus. The firm's two UK engine plants are not affected.

The firm added that while dealerships in some countries have temporarily closed their sales operations, its dealers are committed to "provide essential maintenance and service across the continent".

● The Volkswagen Group is shutting down most of its factories in Europe, with boss Herbert Diess saying that it's “almost impossible” to forecast the company's 2020 financial performance. Full story here.

● The first three rounds of this year's British Touring Car Championship have been postponed following the lastest UK government advice on limiting mass gatherings. The season was due to begin at Donington Park this weekend. Governing body Motorsport UK is suspending all event permits until at lease April 30. Full story here.

● The Tesla factory in Fremont, California, US is remaining open, despite a "shelter in place" lockdown being issued for the area in which it's located. The plant, where the Model 3 is produced, has been deemed an essential business by Alameda County.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Tesla boss Elon Musk has emailed the plant's 10,000 workers saying they can stay at home if they feel unwell or uncomfortable.

● The Goodwood Members' Meeting, which was due to take place at the Sussex race circuit this weekend, has been postponed due to UK government restrictions on public gatherings. Organisers say they're “exploring a range of alternative dates” for the event and will continue planning for July’s Festival of Speed and September’s Revival meeting “in the hope that both events will be able to go ahead as planned”.

Monday 16 March: Automotive industry race to produce ventilators, Vauxhall's UK plant closed

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● The UK government is in talks with major automotive manufacturers, including Ford and Honda, about producing ventilators for the NHS in their UK production facilities. Full story here.

The idea has precedent: in China, the car industry is already helping to battle the spread of coronavirus. Chinese car maker BYD has created production lines at its Shenzen facility to produce face-masks and disinfectants. It says that it's producing 300,000 bottls of disinfectant and five million masks per day, making it the world's largest producer of the latter product. 

● The PSA Group will stage phased closures of all of its factories across Europe, including the Vauxhall plants at Ellesmere Port and Luton. Full story here.

Ford has closed its factory in Valencia, Spain after three worked tested positive for Covid-19. The site was due to shut for from Wednesday to Friday anyway. 

In a statement, Ford said: “We have had three positive cases for Covid-19 on the Valencia site in a 24-hour period, two of which involved more isolated workers that did not enter the assembly operations. We are taking quick action to follow the established protocol, including the identification and self-isolation of all employees who had close contact with the affected workers. We will take all other appropriate steps to ensure that risk from this situation is minimised.”

Sunday 15 March: Ferrari shutters Maranello factory

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Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is closing the majority of its European plans until 27 March, including six in Italy and those in Serbia and Poland. Ferrari will also close its Maranello factory, while Italian brake manufacturer Brembo is also shutting down. Full story here.

● The World Rally Championship event in Mexico was halted early so that the competing teams would have extra time to get home, given the increase in travel restrictions. The next event, Rally Argentina, has been postponed. 

The impact so far

The 2020 Geneva motor show scheduled for early March was cancelled after the rapid outbreak of the coronavirus in Northern Italy. The New York and Beijing motor shows, both scheduled for April, have been postponed.

The Australian Grand Prix was cancelled hours before first practice was due to begin, following the withdrawal of the McLaren team after one of its staff tested positive for Covid-19. The subsequent Bahrain, Vietnam and Chinese grands prix have also been cancelled or postponed. Formula 1 bosses are now looking to start the season in late May or June.

READ MORE

PSA Group closes European factories to prevent coronavirus spread 

Fiat Chrysler, Ferrari close factories amid coronavirus outbreak 

Volkswagen braces for “very difficult year” as pandemic shuts factories

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Comments
42

17 March 2020

So how come JLR are still going? Have they just planned better than anyone else? Or are others shutting down because they can't sell the cars they make? 

18 March 2020
TStag wrote:

So how come JLR are still going? Have they just planned better than anyone else? Or are others shutting down because they can't sell the cars they make? 

JLR has announced temporary closures at various sites. Often it can make more sense to slow production line speed to improve quality rather than continue to run flat out and then have days with the plant idle and staff still being paid.

Noting that Toyota is keeping open to produce service parts shows how this is a good time to build up stocks of spares which may be in short supply due to limited capacity fully used for vehicle build.

 

18 March 2020

With constantly increasing prices, and small hatchbacks now costing well into the mid twenty thousands, their collective greed has caused a huge decline in sales that this Coronavirus threat has brought home even quicker. 

I suspect, under the smokescreen of finance packages and 'increased safety and tech', that they were hoping to close the gap between ICE cars and EVs by dramatically increasing the prices of ICE cars rather than making EVs cheaper.

Now a lot of people will lose their jobs over this obscene profitering that has completely backfired.

18 March 2020
gavsmit wrote:

With constantly increasing prices, and small hatchbacks now costing well into the mid twenty thousands, their collective greed has caused a huge decline in sales that this Coronavirus threat has brought home even quicker. 

I suspect, under the smokescreen of finance packages and 'increased safety and tech', that they were hoping to close the gap between ICE cars and EVs by dramatically increasing the prices of ICE cars rather than making EVs cheaper.

Now a lot of people will lose their jobs over this obscene profitering that has completely backfired.

I agree that the costs of extra safety and tech have had a disproportionate effect at the bottom end of the market but cars also continue to get bigger and the tanking of £ exchange rates and reduced customer confidence post 2016 must also have an effect.

11 June 2020

1978 Ford Fiesta 1.3 Ghia listed at £3460 adjusted for inflation that steel wheeled pushrod engined 4 speed car with manual everything and no passive or active safety devices cost £20K. New Fiesta Titanium comes in at about £20K as well. Looks conspicuously good value to me

18 March 2020

In 2 years time when we've got rid of COVID-19, there will also be fewer car companies around, not all will survive. After the collapse of the worldwide car market, only those that were making money in 2019 will be able to dig into their cash resrves and carry on. So that means the VW group will survive, also BMW & Toyota. The rest are gonna have to rely on Government bail outs or just go bust. Even the future of companies like Mercedes Benz, & Ford will be in doubt. GM will go bankrupt again, JLR become extinct & the French firms Renault & PSA forced into a merger by the French government. Some of the Japanese firms will also be forced into takeovers, Honda being the most venerable.

18 March 2020
jagdavey wrote:

In 2 years time when we've got rid of COVID-19, there will also be fewer car companies around, not all will survive. After the collapse of the worldwide car market, only those that were making money in 2019 will be able to dig into their cash resrves and carry on. So that means the VW group will survive, also BMW & Toyota. The rest are gonna have to rely on Government bail outs or just go bust. Even the future of companies like Mercedes Benz, & Ford will be in doubt. GM will go bankrupt again, JLR become extinct & the French firms Renault & PSA forced into a merger by the French government. Some of the Japanese firms will also be forced into takeovers, Honda being the most venerable.

 

it will just lead to merger mania. I doubt JLR as they are owned by Tata which has a strong balance sheet.

26 May 2020

Tata may have a strong balance sheet but that hasn't prevented JLR earning a junk rating. Why hasn't Tata invested in JLR ?

I think it is because for years Tata have milked JLR and the U.K. government and now because in order to survive Tata knows that JLR will need billions to be invested to develop new vehicles.  

U.K. government supported JLR financially to develop the Ingenium engine plant, now not needed for Diesel engines, and support for the the announced electric XJ, which if a report I read recently was accurate  is not now proceeding. 

 

 

17 April 2020
jagdavey wrote:

In 2 years time when we've got rid of COVID-19, there will also be fewer car companies around, not all will survive. After the collapse of the worldwide car market, only those that were making money in 2019 will be able to dig into their cash resrves and carry on. So that means the VW group will survive, also BMW & Toyota. The rest are gonna have to rely on Government bail outs or just go bust. Even the future of companies like Mercedes Benz, & Ford will be in doubt. GM will go bankrupt again, JLR become extinct & the French firms Renault & PSA forced into a merger by the French government. Some of the Japanese firms will also be forced into takeovers, Honda being the most venerable.

well, your a ray of sunshine we all need, aren't you?

11 June 2020

Why do those most clueless always talk with such conviction?

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