Our up-to-date timeline of coronavirus’ impact on the auto industry

first_imgMark Lennihan / Associated Press Races postponed, plants closed and auto shows and press launches – what do you mean I can’t drive the new Lamborghini Huracan EVO RWD because of COVID-19!? damned pangolins! – cancelled.RELATED Dave Chidley / Canadian Press December 31It’s barely a news item. Were we still in the heydays of print media, we’d be talking about back of the D section, below the fold. We’re told there’s a new type of flu with perhaps a few dozen sufferers. No one notices. [This article was first published March 13, but is regularly updated with the most recent news. The last update was June 11.]Well, that didn’t take long to snowball, now, did it? One minute the coronavirus was just a flu bug in some remote outpost of China, the next our prime minister is self-quarantined in 24 Sussex. It really is hard to imagine it’s been barely two months since the coronavirus first appeared on our radar.But in that short time, the havoc wreaked to the auto industry! Uber announces that going forward all drivers and passengers in its cars will have to wear face masks to stem the possible spread of COVID-19. The ride-hailing firm is spending US$50 million and partnering with Clorox and Unilever to acquire gloves and disinfectant for its drivers.The Petersen Automotive Museum announces it will host its own Petersen Car Week as a replacement to the largely cancelled Monterey Car Week, replete with a virtual concours and auction.An entrepreneurial restaurateur from Drummondville, Quebec is saving his diner, the Vieux Saint-Charles, by converting it into a drive-in, compete with trays hanging from the windows and Elvis music piped into customers’ cars. Goodbye, 21st century! Welcome back, 1950s kitsch.May 11Defying county orders, Elon Musk re-opened Tesla‘s assembly plant in California, asking workers to come back on a volunteer basis and noting on Twitter that he himself would be walking the line. The CEO asked Alameda County authorities that if they arrest anyone, it be him.May 9Elon Musk railed against the California county that plays home to his Tesla factory for not allowing him to re-open the facility, calling their COVID-19 shutdown “absurd and medically irrational.” The CEO said he’s launching a lawsuit against Alameda County and may move his operations to another state like Texas in retaliation.Created with Raphaël 2.1.2Created with Raphaël 2.1.2In this file photo taken on March 14, 2019, Tesla CEO Elon Musk speaks during the unveiling of the new Tesla Model Y in Hawthorne, California. Rental car giant Hertz formally filed for bankruptcy; experts worry if the firm ends up selling off its 570,000-car fleet, the resulting flood in the used-vehicle market would grenade values.Tesla let workers hesitant to return to the company’s assembly lines know they are free to take an unpaid leave until May 31.The Ontario government said it will extend the validity of expired driver’s licences indefinitely, in an effort to keep people from coming into ServiceOntario outlets unnecessarily.May 21President Trump visited a Ford plant in Michigan that had been converted to making ventilators, but flaunted the company’s policy that everyone inside the facility must wear a mask at all times.May 19Jaguar announces its I-Pace racing series will be called off due to the COVID-19 pandemic, after just two seasons running as a support series to the all-electric Formula E schedule.Several automobile assembly plants re-open across Canada, including Fiat Chrysler‘s factory in Brampton, Ontario where Dodge Chargers, Challengers and Chrysler 300s are built.In the U.S., vehicle production at several FCA, General Motors and Ford plants resumed the day before. However, Ford had to briefly halt assembly as its Chicago facilities Tuesday afternoon and then overnight after two workers tested positive for COVID-19. The two employees “had made it through Ford’s temperature scanner and daily health survey screening process,” reports Automotive News Canada. The next day, May 20, production was halted a third time after the line succumbed to a parts shortage.May 15Ford confirms the launches of its hotly anticipated new F-150, Bronco and Mustang Mach-E will be set back by roughly two months due to the pandemic.Mercedes-Benz admits its SUV plant in Alabama, one of the first automobile factories in the U.S. to reopen in the wake of the pandemic, will scale back to an idle next week after it came up against a shortage of parts from Mexico.The organizers of the famed 24 Hours of Le Mans, postponed until September due to COVID-19, announce that a virtual version of the event will take place on its originally scheduled date.May 13Created with Raphaël 2.1.2Created with Raphaël 2.1.2Taxi driver Nicolae Hent, wearing a protective mask, poses for a photograph before before starting work in New York, Monday, April 6, 2020. Matt Rourke / Associated Press Ford wants U.S. gov’t to set up ‘Cash for Clunkers’-like stimulus program Trending in Canada Richard Juilliart / Getty Patrick Semansky / Associated Press Nathan Dennette / Canadian Press May 1Premier Doug Ford says that car dealerships in Ontario will be able to re-open May 4, but by appointment only. Customers and salespeople must maintain social distancing rules.AprilApril 30NASCAR announces it will resume its racing schedule May 17, cramming seven races into 10 days in order to correct its season calendar and catch up on events it’s missed. The Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway will mark the re-start, though no fans will be allowed to spectate in-person at the track.April 29While several automakers like BMW, Hyundai and Kia have confirmed they will restart their vehicle assembly lines May 4, others are pushing back their resume-production rates, with Toyota now aiming for May 11 and Volkswagen not setting a target date at all. Ford, General Motors and Chrysler were said to be looking to re-open May 4, but are instead rumoured to now be considering May 18, though nothing’s been confirmed.Created with Raphaël 2.1.2Created with Raphaël 2.1.2The Buick Y-Job at the 2018 Cobble Beach Concours d’Elegance. COMMENTSSHARE YOUR THOUGHTS Ontario’s prestigious Cobble Beach Concours d’Elegance, hosted late September, has been cancelled due to the coronavirus, with the guests invited to show off their classic cars this year instead being asked to return for the 2021 event.General Motors confirms its new electric Hummer SUV will see its public reveal late May delayed, but says the production launch date remains the same.Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweets “FREE AMERICA NOW” and similar sentiments in regard to many states prohibiting non-essential businesses from operating during the coronavirus pandemic. Back in March, the exec seemed skeptical of the severity of the virus before gradually coming around to the fact COVID-19 is indeed proving highly contagious and rather deadly, but he’s now been promoting articles that suggest shelter-in-place orders don’t save all that many lives.April 28Lincoln confirms the EV sport-utility project it was jointly developing with partner Rivianwill be cancelled due to the coronavirus epidemic. The axed model may mark the first in the U.S. killed off by COVID-19.Imperial Oil announces it’s handing out 80,000 $25 digital vouchers for gasoline to nurses, paramedics and doctors “currently providing critical care across Canada.” The vouchers, worth a total $2 million, will be handed out September, or until all 80,000 are claimed.April 25A leaked internal email reveals Tesla is asking some employees to return to its California factory April 29, even though the local stay-at-home orders don’t lift until May 3. It’s not the only automaker itching to pull the trigger on resuming production: Ford confirmed it will call in skeleton crews April 27 to prep its factories for re-opening. Many automakers seem to be targeting a resume-work date of May 4, though auto labour union leaders in the U.S. say that may be too soon.April 24General Motors announces it plans to re-tool its closed Oshawa, Ontario assembly plant to turn out about one million face masks per month to protect front-line healthcare workers.April 22Porscheauctioned off the last 991-generation 911 it ever built for US$550,000 and donated the proceeds to the United Way Worldwide’s COVID-19 Community Response and Recovery Fund. The online sale of the rare Heritage Design-trimmed Speedster was coordinated by Chatham, Ontario-based RM Sotheby’s.General Motors says it will shut down its Maven car-sharing program permanently in the wake of the pandemic, pulling the service out of Toronto, among other cities. Zipcar announced the same day it was pulling out of B.C., but due to the province’s bureaucratic red tape, not the outbreak.Canadian Black Book announces its COVID-19 car market forecast, surmising in a best-case scenario, new car sales could drop 25 per cent in Canada this year, and used car values 17 per cent; worst case, dealers could see traffic tank 40 per cent, and prices on used cars go down by a quarter.The organizers of the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance announced their prestigious classic car event, one of the world’s most highly celebrated, will be cancelled for the first time in 60 years. The cars invited for display at the 2020 concours, originally to be held August 15, will instead be shown at the 2021 event.April 21According to Bloomberg, Ford and General Motors’ finance arms “likely face multibillion-dollar losses linked to the dramatic drop in used-vehicle prices” as a result of the coronavirus-inspired economic lock-down.What do you do if you’re an 86-year-old shut indoors because of the coronavirus? Well, if you’re Sammy Miller, British trial champion and the greatest trial rider the world has ever seen, why, you go for a training run in your back yard on a BSA.April 17After some controversy over both whether the breathing machines Tesla donated to U.S. hospitals were technically ventilators; and whether they in fact had been delivered to any hospitals at all, several health care centers come forward clarifying they had received the apparatuses gifted by Elon Musk, though many had to modify them to help COVID-19 patients.April 16Ford announces it is testing out employee wristbands that vibrate when they get too close to a co-worker, to help them maintain social distancing while on the job. A UAW official leaked that Ford wants to re-open its Kentucky truck plant May 4, the same date Fiat Chrysler, Honda, Hyundai, Volvo and Toyota are reportedly contemplating re-opening U.S. factories.As the coronavirus lockdown continues, the good people at Yippee.TV have come up with some partial salvation for exasperated parents now tending to their offspring full-time. It’s called Backseat Drivers, and it’s the first car show for kids, by kids, specifically the five- to 10-year-old demographic (the combined age of the three hosts is about 30). Plunk them down in front of the computer screen and ten episodes later – that’s the entire first season – they’ll finally appreciate why you’re always tinkering with the ’67 Impala in the garage.April 15Several European automakers, including Audi, Volvo, Renault, BMW and Daimler, resume limited production at some of their assembly plants on the Continent, or make plans to resume production, a process made difficult by criss-crossing supply chains and travel restrictions.Meanwhile, U.S. President Trumptapped the top executives of four U.S. automakers to form an industry panel to coordinate the rebooting of America’s automotive industry. GM’s Mary Barra, FCA’s Mike Manley, Tesla’s Elon Musk and Ford chairman Bill Ford represent one of several “Great American Economic Revival Industry Groups” set up by Trump’s administration.Porsche Canada expands its roadside assistance program to cover, for free, the driver of any brand of vehicle if they work for an Ontario hospital.April 14Rapper Meek Mill joins the #allinchallenge on Instagram, agreeing to auction off his 2018 Rolls-Royce Phantom to benefit charities supporting victims of the coronavirus epidemic.April 11It’s confirmed the Ford Bronco Sport‘s reveal and production start date have been delayed by the coronavirus, though Ford still plans to debut the much-anticipated mini-SUV ahead of its full-size Bronco sibling, likely still during the postponed New York auto show in the fall.April 10With most racing series’ schedules postponed for at least a few months, the Daytona International Speedway becomes the U.S.’ first drive-thru COVID-19 testing site — or, more specifically, its parking lot does. Florida hospital group AdventHealth plans to offer about 500 tests a day at the track.April 9Fiat Chrysler confirms the death of a worker at its Chelsea Proving Grounds marks the 12th employee its lost to the coronavirus pandemic, reports the Detroit Free Press. Ford has seen seven people on its payroll succumb to the respiratory illness, bringing the Detroit Three automakers’ total to 19. General Motors has yet to see an employee die from COVID-19, and says it is actively contemplating re-opening its factories after putting in place health precautions like temperature screenings and spreading assembly line work stations further apart.April 8Rivian confirms it’s pushing back the late 2020 launch of its much-anticipated electric truck and SUV, which were set to be the first to market in that segment. A few days prior, Nissan commits to putting its next-generation Rogue in Canadian dealerships in the fall of this year.General Motors becomes the first automaker to secure an official government contract to build ventilators to supply the U.S. federal stockpile. The deal will see GM and partner Ventec deliver 30,000 units by the end of August for a cost of almost US$500 million.Richard Hammond is as bored with self-quarantining as the rest of us. Unlike we mere proles, however, the ”Hamster” of Top Gear fame has an estate and lots of classic cars and motorcycles. So, in a not-quite-epic video, Hammond take us the Long Way Round his back yard. Gratuitous mentions of semi-classic cars and much hilarity ensures. So what did you do today stuck at home?April 7Formula One postpones the Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal, scheduled for June 14. Sources say the event may be rescheduled for later in the summer.April 6Ford Canada announces it will be joining the slew of Canadian auto parts suppliers who are switching gears to build face shields for hospital staff and first responders; the automaker will specifically re-purpose its factories in Windsor, Ontario for the effort.April 5Tesla releases a video on YouTube showing off a prototype for a ventilator made partly with components from its cars. Days earlier, CEO Elon Musk was being pelted by critics for delivering U.S. hospitals B-PAP machines from China when he’d promised them ventilators.April 3General Motors asked President Donald Trump to remove the 25-per-cent import tariff on parts the company needed to produce the ventilators the federal government had ordered it to. The duty will make the devices more expensive and time-consuming to build, GM said.April 2Ford confirms its having internal meetings regarding a “Cash for Clunkers”-type stimulus program it hopes to push the U.S. government to consider in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.MarchMarch 31Several Formula One teams partner together to help produce ventilators and CPAP machines via “Project Pitlane” while Lamborghini announces its upholstery department will sew face masks for Italian hospitals.Ford pushes back its North American plant re-openings from their planned mid-April relaunch. The factories will now be closed “indefinitely.” Two Ford employees have died from coronavirus so far, one in its Dearborn stamping facility, the other at its Dearborn Data Center.The automaker also said it would reopen its Ypsilanti, Michigan parts plant April 20 to build ventilators in conjunction with GE Healthcare.A report suggests General Motors will delay the launch of several new models, including its refreshed large SUVs and a performance trim of the new Corvette, over the coronavirus.March 30Roger Penske has decided to forgo his entire salary, as his recent purchase of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the IndyCar racing series comes under pressure from the coronavirus crisis.The organizers of the Paris auto show announce their event, scheduled for early October, will be cancelled “in its current format,” suggesting some new car debuts there could instead be livestreamed online.March 29The North American International Auto Show in Detroit, having two years ago decided to move from its typical January slot, sees what was supposed to be its first June event cancelled by COVID-19. The venue it was to be held in will instead become a field hospital.March 27Just as General Motors worked out how to get production started on thousands of ventilators it wanted to build to relieve demand for the devices at hospitals, President Trump nixed the government deal with the automaker via a bizarre Twitter tirade, citing costs issues. Later in the day, he officially invoked the wartime Defense Production Act that would legally compel GM to build ventilators, even though the company had already joined the effort willingly.Ferrari said it plans to re-open its plant April 14, assuming suppliers have resumed operation at that time and it’s safe to do so; on March 26, Fiat Chrysler and Ford announce production at their U.S. and Canadian plants will resume April 14 as well. VW says its U.S. plants should re-open April 5, and Honda aims for April 7 for its U.S. and Canadian plants.In the absence of real racing, the stars of motorsport – from Valentino Rossi of MotoGP fame to F1’s Nicholas Latifi – are taking to esports to maintain their edge in what’s been an extended off-season. In fact, with 903,000 viewers, Sunday’s virtual NASCAR Pro Invitational Series might have become the most-viewed esports event in U.S. TV history.March 26Two more major motorsports events are postponed: the 2020 Indy 500 gets pushed back from May 24 to August 23; and the Goodwood Festival of Speed in the U.K. sees its dates moved from July 9 to an undetermined time late summer or early autumn.After weeks of downplaying the severity of the coronavirus epidemic, Elon Musk gradually begins to come around, especially after two Tesla employees have been found to have contracted the disease.General Motors tells its entire salaried workforce of 69,000 it will reduce their pay 20 per cent, but says the difference will be repaid in a lump sum with interest no later than next March 15. Ford says it will make similar moves, but also that its top 300 executives will defer 20 to 50 per cent of their salaries for at least five months, with executive chairman Bill Ford Jr. deferring 100 per cent.March 25Fiat Chrysler confirms two of its factory workers have died from coronavirus – one from its Sterling Heights, Michigan plant; the other at its Indiana transmission plant – but did not say when. They are among the first COVID-19-related deaths in the industry, preceded only by the death of another FCA employee Sunday, a dyno tech at Chrysler’s Auburn Hill HQ.The company also confirms it is laying off a large part of its contract labour; insider reports suggest all contractors, or roughly 30 per cent of FCA’s workforce, will see their work “paused.”March 24Amid the chaos that is coronavirus, production of Polestar’s first all-electric vehicle, the Polestar 2, began in Luqiao, China. “The world is facing enormous upheaval in the face of the coronavirus pandemic,” said Polestar CEO Thomas Ingenlath. “We start production now under these challenging circumstances with a strong focus on the health and safety of our people.”March 22U.S. President Donald Trump gave Ford and General Motors the “go-ahead” to begin building ventilators, though the automakers are not quite sure what that’s supposed to mean as they are still trying to figure out exactly how to go about switching their assembly lines to the manufacturing of medical equipment.Created with Raphaël 2.1.2Created with Raphaël 2.1.2President Donald Trump speaks during a coronavirus task force briefing at the White House, Sunday, March 22, 2020, in Washington. ‹ Previous Next › Supplied / Getty Images February 26Moody’s downgrades worldwide auto sales, noting we’ll buy 2.5 per cent fewer cars in 2020 instead of the previously estimated pre-coronavirus decline of just 0.9 per cent. This follows a fall of 4.6 per cent last year.February 18BBC reports that parts shortages are so acute and automakers so desperate for supply that Jaguar Land Rover had flown parts in private suitcases from China to the U.K.Early FebruaryAuto sales in China are down as much as 92 per cent for the first half of February. For the entire first week of February, only 811 cars are sold in China — this from a nation that churns out more than 20 millions cars annually.JanuaryJanuary 29Tesla announces Chinese authorities have ordered the closing of its new plant in Shanghai, scheduled to produce the Model 3. In fact, all across China, automobile and parts plants are being temporarily shuttered.January 24The death toll hits 26, but, again, since everyone thinks the disease is restricted to China – though it’s now spread throughout the Hubei province – the world largely ignores the news.January 11The first fatality of what is identified as a new type of coronavirus occurs in the Wuhan province of China. The victim is a 61-year-old man who was a frequent visitor to the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market where the virus is thought to have originated.January 7Chinese officials announce they have identified a new virus, initially identified as 2019-nCoV and belonging to the coronavirus family, which includes SARS and the common cold. Trending Videos Ferrari advertisement Union leaders are asking General Motors shut its CAMI plant in Ingersoll, Ontario early. The London Free Press reports Unifor Local 88 expects a coronavirus-driven sales slump will cause layoffs by May and suggests it might be better to shut down operations sooner to better stop the spread of the disease.In response, GM Canada says it will follow the lead of its U.S. parent company.On Sunday, the automaker joined rivals Ford and FCA, along with the United Auto Workers union executive, to form a COVID-19 task force. The automakers announced they will be immediately implementing enhanced visitor screening, increased cleaning and sanitization of common areas.March 14The coronavirus might force Aston Martin to tap Canadian billionaire Lawrence Stroll for another 20 million pounds ($34 million), says The Guardian.More races were either delayed or cancelled this day as well. Indycar recently announced all races through the end of April will be cancelled. Meanwhile, NASCAR postpones its next two races until further notice.March 13Formula 1 finally cancels its Melbourne opener just two days before the race. Race organizers had waited until McLaren withdrew from the race because one of its team members had contracted the virus. F1 teams had already been pleading to have the event cancelled or postponed. Now added to the list of nixed events is the Bahrain GP, as well as the first-ever Vietnam Grand Prix.Created with Raphaël 2.1.2Created with Raphaël 2.1.2Williams’ Canadian driver Nicholas Latifi takes part in the tests for the new Formula One Grand Prix season at the Circuit de Catalunya in Montmelo in the outskirts of Barcelona on February 27, 2020. GM ventilator effort goes haywire with Trump slamming automaker CEOWhether you chalk this up to an abundance of caution (cue politicians needing to look like they’re “doing something”) or just plain ol’ panic (cue the growing number of critics questioning the numbers behind the so-called crisis) what can’t be denied is how devastating this “novel” – that means previously unidentified and therefore without vaccine – coronavirus has been.To give you, our readers, just a smidgen of the scope of how dramatically the world has changed in the last two months, we at Driving have put together a timeline of all the ways the coronavirus has change the auto and motorsports industries since that fateful day in the beginning of the year, in reverse order so you can stay on top of the latest developments.JuneJune 11Ford is among several automakers to see production at its plants resume successfully and hit self-set targets in the wake of the pandemic. However, some assembly line workers still feel the re-opening of these facilities may have been rushed.MayMay 28Organizers of the massive Hershey classic car swap meet, held every fall for the past 65 years, announced the event had been cancelled due to limits on crowd sizes. The show that caps off the week-long event may still go ahead, however.May 27Ford announces its developed a software update for its police-spec SUVs that lets the car cook the coronavirus off of its interior surfaces.May 26The Canadian federal government has contracted General Motors Canada to manufacture 10 million face masks to help combat the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. The automaker will make the masks in the Oshawa factories that, until last year, turned out GM vehicles, and will sell the PPE to the government at cost.May 25Production of the C8-gen Chevrolet Corvette is expected to resume tomorrow, reportedly with the assembly of 2020-model-year cars. The start date on 2021-model-year Corvette production has apparently been pushed back to ensure the factory shutdown forced by the pandemic doesn’t impact this generation’s debut model year sales numbers.May 22After initially moving it back from April to August, organizers of the New York auto show have cancelled the event altogether since the venue that’d host it is still being used as a COVID-19 field hospital. The next New York International Auto Show is now scheduled for April 2021.Created with Raphaël 2.1.2Created with Raphaël 2.1.2People walk through the BMW showroom Wednesday, March 28, 2018, at the New York Auto Show. The Rolls-Royce Boat Tail may be the most expensive new car ever Josep Lago / Getty Handout / Cobble Beach Concours d’Elegance Buy It! Princess Diana’s humble little 1981 Ford Escort is up for auction An engagement gift from Prince Charles, the car is being sold by a Princess Di “superfan” Fiat Chrysler the same night announced it would be converting one of its plants in China to focus on the production of medical-grade face masks, which it will donate at a rate of one million per month to health-care workers and first responders in the U.S. and Canada.Fiat Chrysler also confirmed March 22 that a dyno tech working at its Auburn Hills, Michigan headquarters had contracted and died from coronavirus, prompting FCA to close its test laboratories and expand its work-from-home policy at its HQ.March 20Volkswagen, Volvo and Subaru are the next three automakers to close down their North American assembly plants, at least temporarily. VW will shutter its Chattanooga, Tennessee plant from March 21 through at least March 29; while Volvo will close three plants in Sweden and its one U.S. plant from March 26 until April 14. Subaru of Indiana will close from March 23 for one week.Later in the day, Mercedes-Benz, one of the last holdouts when it came to U.S. plant closures, said it would idle its Alabama plant and its South Carolina van plant for at least two weeks starting March 23, said Automotive News. The same report noted Kia plans to re-open its Georgia plant on March 23 after production was suspended due to supplier issues March 19; it does, but then says it will have to re-close the plant March 30 after all.Finally, both Jaguar Land Rover and Bentley said they would shutter their U.K. assembly plants until at least April 20.March 19After GM and Ford hinted the day before that they were in talks with the U.S. federal government to reconfigure their production lines to turn out ventilators for hospitals treating COVID-19-afflicted patients, Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who thinks the severity of the situation is being overblown, agreed to similarly consider such measures, “if” there was a need for ventilators.Musk also finally caved to authorities and agreed late Thursday to shut down his Fremont, California assembly plant on March 23. However, deliveries of already-built new Model Ys and other cars will continue using a “touchless delivery” system, Musk said.Created with Raphaël 2.1.2Created with Raphaël 2.1.2Elon Musk with Shanghai mayor Ying Yong at the groundbreaking of Tesla’s first Chinese plant May 7Ford joins General Motors and Fiat Chrysler in announcing it will re-open most of its U.S. factories May 18. A handful of plants in Canada will see production resume a little later, since May 18 marks Victoria Day.May 6Ford announced that it’d begun shipping the powered air-purifying respirators (PAPR) it was working on manufacturing with 3M. The design for the personal protective equipment was drafted mid-April, and Ford says the total time from ideation to first deliveries was about 40 days. Ford is also making medical gowns out of airbag material.Uber reveals it plans to cut about 3,700 full-time positions due to the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic; the past quarter marked the company’s first where it saw a decline in ridership.May 4Premium automakers Bugatti and Ferrari both restarted production this week, with the latter calling its ramping up and worker training process an “installation lap” ahead of fully resuming car-building May 8.Created with Raphaël 2.1.2Created with Raphaël 2.1.2Ferrari workers in masks and gloves roll a car out of the assembly facility in May 2020. Created with Raphaël 2.1.2Created with Raphaël 2.1.2 Regular production of the 2020 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray coupe begins February 3, 2020 at General Motors Bowling Green Assembly in Bowling Green, Kentucky. Initial vehicle shipments to dealers are expected to begin in late February or early March.  Miranda Pederson / General Motors See More Videos Dan Janisse / Windsor Star PlayThe Rolls-Royce Boat Tail may be the most expensive new car everPlay3 common new car problems (and how to prevent them) | Maintenance Advice | Driving.caPlayFinal 5 Minivan Contenders | Driving.caPlay2021 Volvo XC90 Recharge | Ministry of Interior Affairs | Driving.caPlayThe 2022 Ford F-150 Lightning is a new take on Canada’s fave truck | Driving.caPlayBuying a used Toyota Tundra? 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The Windsor Assembly Plant in southern Ontario idles its Chrysler Pacifica minivan production line for roughly 24 hours starting late March 12 after workers walk off the job following the lead of one who self-quarantined as a precaution.Another Fiat-Chrysler worker at a transmission plant in Indiana tested positive for coronavirus, becoming the first Detroit Three automaker employee in the United States to test positive for COVID-19. Production continues as normal.March 11President Trump announces a ban for all non-essential travel from Europe to the United States (the U.K. is excluded, more than a few reports say, because Trump has golf courses there).Lamborghini, Porsche and BMW all cancel or postpone press preview events in March and April. Sadly, that means we won’t be driving – and you won’t be reading about – the new Huracan EVO RWD, 911 Turbo S and the M8 Gran Coupe any time soon.March 10The New York International Auto Show, which has taken over as the springtime domestic auto show from Detroit, is postponed until August after Governor Andrew Cuomo bans large gatherings.March 4Ford is one of the first major automakers to ban international business travel for its employees. The company confirms two of its employees in China have contracted the disease.FebruaryFebruary 28Switzerland is one of the first countries to pre-emptively ban large events, with Switzerland’s Federal Office of Public Health looking to prevent gatherings larger than 1,000 people. The Geneva Motor Show is the first major automotive industry gathering to be shelved outside of China.Created with Raphaël 2.1.2Created with Raphaël 2.1.2Workers are seen at the stand of German carmaker Audi on February 28, 2020 at the Geneva International Motor Show which has been cancelled after Switzerland banned large gatherings amid the new coronavirus epidemic. Ford informs automotive writers its media reveal for the much-anticipated 2021 Ford Bronco SUV is being cancelled over COVID-19 concerns. It does not confirm whether the public reveal or on-sale dates have been similarly affected.Lamborghini announces it is shuttering its Sant’Agata Bolognese, Italy assembly plant until at least March 25 as a country-wide lockdown there makes continued production almost impossible.Jeep confirms it will be withdrawing from the annual Easter Jeep Safari in Moab, Utah. The automaker confirms the concepts slated to debut at this year’s Safari will still be revealed, though it’s unsure where or when. Five days later, the local organizers call off the event altogether.Genesis announces its Genesis Cares Job Loss Protection program, which sees the automaker make up to six months of payments in the cases of customers (who bought their car after March 14) involuntarily losing work this year.March 12CNBC reports Michigan, home of the American industry, sees its first two cases of COVID-19.The Vancouver auto show, set to celebrate its 100th anniversary with a massive event years in the making, is postponed.The ninth installment in the Fast & Furious film franchise, F9: The Fast Saga, sees its debut postponed nearly a year, going from a May 22 release date to April 2, 2021.Created with Raphaël 2.1.2Created with Raphaël 2.1.2A FCA transport truck is shown at the Windsor Assembly Plant in Windsor on Feb. 19, 2020. March 18Honda becomes the first automaker to idle its North American assembly plants, from March 23 to March 31, to curb output ahead of an anticipated drop in demand. Workers at those facilities – including its two car factories in Alliston, Ontario – will still be paid.The Detroit Three, feeling pressure from the United Auto Workers and from Honda’s closure decision, by mid-day had reversed course from their decision the night prior, when they’d said they’d stage “rotating partial shutdowns.” Instead, they committed to idle all production in their North American plants until the end of the month.Ford joined those European automakers announcing it was closing down assembly operations throughout Europe. Nissan, meanwhile, said it is closing its Sunderland plant — the largest auto assembly plant in the U.K., employing some 6,000 people.Rolls-Royce announced its plant in Goodwood, U.K. would suspend operations for two weeks beginning March 23; and German automaker Porsche said it would idle production at its facilities following the same timeline, except for its Zuffenhausen and Leipzig factories.BMW also shut down its European operations, with the interruption in production expected to last until April 19.Toyota’s San Antonio Truck plant, on the other hand, struck a rather defiant tone Monday, with execs there saying “We have no plans for layoffs as a result of the COVID-19 situation.” Luisa Casso, a spokesperson for Toyota, went on to add “Toyota has a history of retaining our workforce through challenging times.”March 17The Detroit Three reached an agreement with the U.S. United Auto Workers union late in the evening to continue car production while staging “rotating partial shutdowns.” However, Fiat Chrysler says it was forced to close a Ram truck plant in Michigan after a worker there tested positive for COVID-19; and Ford idled its Explorer and Lincoln Aviator plant in Chicago after a supplier disruption.Even as the San Francisco Bay area sees the number of coronavirus cases swell, Tesla CEO Elon Musk insists he’ll keep the company’s Fremont factory open to all willing employees so production of its new Model Y and other lines can continue.Meanwhile, Volkswagen, PSA Group and Renault announced the closure of dozens of manufacturing facilities across Europe. Volkswagen would suspend operations at plants in Italy, Portugal, Slovakia and Spain, it said. PSA said it was closing 15 plants in France, Spain, Germany and the United Kingdom until the end of March; while Renault announced it would shut 12 of its plants in France.Uber suspends shared rides in the U.S. and Canada to reduce the spread of coronavirus, Reuters reports.March 16The Federation Internationale de l’Automobile, which regulates Formula 1, suggests the season will now start around the beginning of May, which the Dutch round (May 1 to 3).A day after Ferrari shuttered its factories, Ford and FCA announced the shutdown of several European assembly plants, including Ford’s “mega-plant” in Valencia, Spain, which was shuttered for at least a week after three workers there were diagnosed with COVID-19. Several other European automakers announced plant stoppages or preparations to that effect.Finally, another Italian icon, Ducati, is temporarily suspending manufacturing to “to reorganize production lines.”March 15Ferrari suspends production at its Maranello and Modena plants. As a result, both production car and Formula 1 facilities will be closed for two weeks.Created with Raphaël 2.1.2Created with Raphaël 2.1.2Doors and window openings line up on the Trim line, where window regulators, trim panels and window glass is installed at the CAMI Automotive facility in Ingersoll, Ontario, Thursday, Dec. 21, 2006. Nissan and Toyota follow the lead of the Detroit Three and Honda and confirm they will be idling production at their North American factories as a precautionary measure meant to stem the spread of COVID-19. However, Toyota later confirms a worker at its Cambridge, Ontario plant did indeed test positive for coronavirus, though it kept the facility running until the scheduled closure March 23. Hyundai also says it will shut down its plants, though in its case that’s partly because it found a worker in Alabama tested positive for the disease.Harley-Davidson announces it’s suspending production at its U.S. manufacturing facilities through March 29 as a result of one of its employees testing positive for COVID-19.Created with Raphaël 2.1.2Created with Raphaël 2.1.2Workers inspect vehicles and work on the assembly line at Honda of Canada Mfg. Plant 2 in Alliston, Ont., on Monday, March 30, 2015.last_img read more