Coronavirus, COVID-19 Response Automotive News

It’s another day filled will coronavirus COVID-19 news from automakers, suppliers and services including FCA, Shift, CARS,  CarSoup, Digital Air Strike, Clutch Technologies, Marelli and Gotcha Mobility.

GM is offering 3GB of free  Wi-Fi access for three months and OnStar Crisis Assist to compatible vehicle owners for limited time.

FCA Unmasks Mask-Making

Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) is stepping in to help those at the front line of the coronavirus pandemic by manufacturing and donating more than 1 million protective face masks per month. Production capacity is being installed this week and the company will start manufacturing face masks in the coming weeks with initial distribution across the United States, Canada and Mexico.

The face masks are to be donated by FCA to police, EMTs and firefighters, as well as to workers in hospitals and health care clinics. This action is the first of a multifaceted global program being developed by the company through applying manufacturing, supply chain and engineering expertise to support the global fight against the Coronavirus pandemic.

Commenting on this initiative, FCA CEO Mike Manley said: “We’ve marshalled the resources of the FCA Group to focus immediately on installing production capacity for making masks and supporting those most in need on the front line of this pandemic.”

FCA will be working through national, regional and city authorities to ensure that the donated face masks are being directed to the people and facilities in the most immediate need. The company will disclose further actions related to the fight against the Coronavirus in the coming days.

Shift Shifts Plans

In light of the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, Shift  launched new systems that will support public health efforts while continuing to serve customers.

In light of the state and county Shelter-In-Place orders and to follow public health guidance regarding social distancing, they are temporarily suspending customer visits to our physical facilities. However, customers can continue to schedule test drives and buy cars directly online at Shift.com and have the vehicle delivered to their home, as well as sell their car to Shift through an at-home evaluation.

While we have formally instituted a work from home policy for those whose jobs allow, employees in the field will continue to follow all CDC recommendations for reducing the spread of germs, including frequent hand-washing, maintaining social distance, use of hand sanitizer, and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces.

Furthermore, in an effort to support social distancing measures, we have launched a new no-contact test drive system whereby a Shift concierge will deliver a car to a customer’s home, wipe it down with disinfectant, and hand it over to the customer to test drive on their own.

CARS Cares

CARS is offering a robust program of immediate dealer incentives and unique digital solutions aimed at driving dealer profitability, service capabilities and sales to a growing segment of consumers who are seeking more digital car-shopping options such as home delivery, virtual appointments, chat tools and video.

  • Immediate Financial Relief to Dealers: Dealer customers will receive 50% off April and 30% off May and June bills automatically applied across Cars.com and DealerRater.
  • Virtual Retail Solutions: In addition to our existing range of digital solutions that help dealers serve car buyers from home, we have launched a collection of new, no-cost merchandising and digital solutions including Home Delivery and Virtual Appointment badging, chat and video. These products drive traffic and improve dealership digital operations.
  • CARS Cares: We are monitoring the COVID-19 situation in real time and have launched the CARS Cares website to keep our customers up to date on the retail solutions and real-time actions and decisions Cars.com is taking to best service and support them.
  • Federal Aid and Support: We are working with policymakers and industry groups to help dealerships get the local and federal support needed to manage through this time, including federal stimulus and essential business status.

CarSoup Stirs Up Connections

Due to the uncertainty of the COVID-19 outbreak has had on the automotive industry, CarSoup.com has unveiled a two-stage plan to help both its dealer partners and the customers who shop on CarSoup.com. This two-part plan includes making it easier for buyers to connect with dealers in this troubling time and helping ease the financial burden dealerships are facing.

Step 1 – CarSoup.com is waiving billing for the month of April as an act of support for its dealer community. “We recognize the value of our dealer partners who have worked together with us for the past 22 years,” says Brian Bowman, president of CarSoup.com. “Our business was founded by dealers, for dealers, and dealers will always come first. We know these are confusing times that will not be easy on our business or our employees, but we believe it is the right thing to do at this time.”

Step 2 – Effective March 23, CarSoup.com will roll out a “Shop at Home” feature that highlights dealers who are willing to sell a vehicle to someone without that customer having to come into the dealership. The selling process can be online or offline—as long as the dealer is willing to sell and deliver the car to the customer’s residence or work, they can be included in this program.

CarSoup.com plans on additional communication with dealers by April 20th to reassess the situation in regards to its May plans, and it urges its dealer partners to contact their account manager for more details.

Digital Air Strike Strikes

Digital Air Strike, the leading automotive consumer engagement technology company, today announced two free webinars to help automotive dealers during the COVID-19 pandemic. General Motors and Automotive News, two of the biggest names in the automotive industry, have invited the company to share new social distancing solutions, technology, and best practices for dealerships to offer “no contact” contracting, at-home test drives, concierge delivery for service, and more.

The webinars will focus on how today’s climate calls for a shift in strategy as well as new tactics to employ immediately. The industry has an opportunity to make a dramatic leap forward in many areas while nurturing leads to help maximize future pent-up demand.

Clutch Picks Up Delivery Slack

With an enhanced focus on social distancing, Clutch Technologies is delivering a fixed ops experience for dealers that will allow consumers to remain at home during their next vehicle service. Clutch’s Service Pickup & Delivery software, which will be complimentary for all dealerships through the end of June 2020, provides customers with a next-level service offering to help minimize human interaction and reduce the stress some consumers are feeling in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Picking up customer vehicles for service is seamless with Clutch’s Pickup & Delivery Software. Clutch’s platform enables the full workflow for the dealer, including scheduling concierge labor and messaging with the consumer.

Goodyear Stays Open

In response to the rapid spread of COVID-19, The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company announced changes it is making to meet current customer demand and to help protect the health and wellbeing of its Goodyear Auto Service and Just Tires store teams and guests. These changes will also help to ensure stores can remain open to provide tires and auto care to guests who need them, including law enforcement, first responders and others in essential roles, such as doctors, nurses and grocers.

Changes include temporarily reducing store hours to 8 a.m.5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and closing on Sundays. This will enable stores to operate in multiple shifts and limit close personal contact among the store teams and with others where possible while still meeting current customer demand.

“Because of the services we provide, many of our guests, including the law enforcement, first responders and medical workers responsible for protecting public health and safety, rely on us for tire and auto service to keep their vehicles on the road,” said Fred Thomas, vice president, Goodyear Retail. “With the continued spread of COVID-19 and the unprecedented challenges facing the community, we are reducing our operating hours to allow us to continue to serve our guests while prioritizing the health and wellbeing of our associates.”

Additionally, in states that have issued “Shelter-in-Place” or similar non-essential business closure orders, our stores are expected to remain open as auto service providers deliver essential goods and services.

The company will begin operating under reduced hours on March 25, which will continue for at least two weeks or until further notice.

Voice of the Car Summit Goes Virtual

 Voice of the Car Summit, which focuses on the intersection of voice tech, conversational AI and the modern connected car, is now a worldwide online event, taking place April 7-8. The summit – which was previously scheduled for the same dates at Club Auto Sport in San Jose, Calif. – is part of the Project Voice Series and presented by Mercedes-Benz Research & Development North America, Inc. Numerous leading companies will share insights, including Mercedes-Benz, Google, Amazon, Intel, General Motors, Ford Motor Company, iHeartMedia and more.

Marelli Suspends Production

Over the last two weeks, Marelli has closely monitored the spread of the coronavirus, followed the recommendations of country, state and local authorities, and implemented a series of precautions to protect the health and safety of its employees. In North America, the company has implemented a critical visitor only policy, virtual meetings, social distancing and work from home practices wherever possible.

Many OEM customers have announced temporary plant closures due to rising concerns over the spread of the coronavirus. These closures will have a significant impact on the business, driving down demand for product. Marelli leadership has made the difficult decision to temporarily suspend manufacturing operations in many of its North American plants. Closures will happen in a staggered fashion, with the overall duration to be evaluated every few days. In some cases, operations may continue on a reduced scale to align with customer needs.

Marelli remains in close communication with employees and customers during this fluid, ever-changing situation. The company is ready to make operational changes as needed to accommodate both the health and well-being of its employees while meeting customer requirements.

Gotcha EVs for Deliveries

Gotcha Mobility, , announced today it will be offering its electric vehicles to local restrauants and merchants in an effort to help meet the demand for delivered products such as takeout meals and groceries. The company is pivoting its business model in the face of coronavirus to support local businesses and their employees and customers. The company will maintain its core micro-mobility business in markets across the U.S. while also adding the food delivery service, beginning in Baton Rouge.

Local businesses can use e-bikes or seated scooters, based on availability, at a discounted rate of $15 per day for each vehicle (further discounts offered for more than 5 vehicles). Baton Rouge restaurants and merchants can contact the local Operations Manager to join the service.

Gotcha’s e-mobility products will be available as long as they’re allowed on the streets and deemed safe. The company will suspend operations should ordinances require it. While the general public needs to employ social distancing to help minimize the spread of COVID-19, Gotcha will continue to follow CDC guidelines to properly clean its products.

Gotcha was recently acquired by MILE (formerly OjO Electric) and MILE’s team brings expertise in food delivery through a pilot program operated by OjO.

Less for Bob More

The Bob Moore Auto Group is announcing a significant reduction in their workforce, effective March 21, 2020. The reduction is in response to the unprecedented and dramatic effect the current state and national health emergency has had on the local and regional economy.

Bob Moore Auto Group service centers will be open weekly, Monday – Saturday from 7:00 a.m.6:00 p.m. Bob Moore dealership sales hours have been adjusted to 10:00 a.m.6:00 p.m. Monday – Saturday.

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