COVID-19 Automotive Coronavirus News

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In COVID-10 Coronavirus news are Ford, Chubb, Volkswagen, Honda, Arrialist and automotiveMastermind.

Ford Expands & Helps with Respirators & More

Ford is expanding its efforts to design and produce urgently needed medical equipment and supplies for health care workers, first responders and patients fighting coronavirus.

In addition to the current production of more than 3 million face shields in Plymouth, Mich., Ford-designed powered air-purifying respirator production begins Tuesday, April 14. Ford also is now producing face masks and leading an effort to scale production of reusable gowns for health care workers. Lastly, Ford started providing manufacturing expertise to help scientific instrument provider Thermo Fisher Scientific quickly expand production of COVID-19 collection kits to test for the virus.

Since late March, Ford manufacturing, purchasing and supply chain experts have been embedded at 3M manufacturing facilities to help increase production of urgently needed products.

With this additional help, 3M and Ford were able to increase the output of PAPRs and N95 respirators at 3M’s U.S.-based manufacturing facilities.

Ford will start producing an all-new PAPR design to help protect health care professionals on the front lines fighting COVID-19. Rapidly designing components and prototyping in accordance with federal guidelines and with 3M expert support and guidance, Ford teams reduced PAPR development time to less than four weeks.

Approximately 90 paid UAW volunteers will assemble PAPRs at Ford’s Vreeland facility near Flat Rock, Mich., with the ability to make 100,000 or more.

The newly designed PAPR includes a hood and face shield to cover health care professionals’ heads and shoulders, while a high-efficiency (HEPA) filter system provides a supply of filtered air for up to 8 hours. The air blower system – similar to the fan found in F-150’s ventilated seats – is powered by a rechargeable, portable battery, helping keep the respirator in constant use by first-line defenders.

The development team has been supported by the CDC’s NIOSH National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory. NIOSH provided timely guidance to Ford and other US manufacturers to encourage the development of protective public health emergency PAPRs to respond to the COVID-19 emergency. Ford expects to achieve the temporary, limited NIOSH approval by the end of April.

Pending approval, 3M will distribute the newly designed PAPRs through its U.S. network to help bring these technologies quickly and efficiently to health care workers who urgently need them. 3M and Ford will donate any profits they earn from the sale of the PAPR to COVID-19 related nonprofit organizations.

Approximately 30 UAW paid volunteers will start making masks in the plant’s ISO Class 8 cleanroom, which is a controlled environment with extremely low levels of pollutants, enabling the safe production of face masks for medical use. Eventually, approximately 80 UAW paid volunteers will make masks as production increases.

To help further protect health care workers, Ford is leading efforts to manufacture reusable gowns with airbag supplier Joyson Safety Systems. The go-fast project has created re-usable gowns manufactured from material used to make airbags in Ford vehicles.

Production of gowns will reach 75,000 gowns a week by Sunday and scale up to 100,000 gowns for the week of April 19 and beyond. By July 4, Ford-supplier Joyson Safety Systems will cut and sew 1.3 million gowns, which are self-tested to federal standards and are washable up to 50 times.

Work at Rawsonville (Mich.) Components Plant is underway to transform a portion of the plant to manufacture a third-party ventilator, in collaboration with GE Healthcare, with production expected to start the week of April 20. Built by paid UAW volunteers, the goal is to produce 50,000 Model A-E ventilators by July 4 to help COVID-19 patients.//

Chubb Gives 35% Back

Chubb is providing its personal auto insurance clients in the U.S. with a credit on annual renewal premiums as a result of reduced driving activity.

Upon renewal, clients will receive a credit reflecting a 35% premium reduction for the months of April and May, with additional discounts for subsequent months, as the situation warrants. Across Chubb’s portfolio, the average credit is expected to be $110 per vehicle. Clients will not have to request the credit; it will be applied automatically at renewal. All premium and rate adjustments are subject to regulatory approval

VW Support by Delivering Delivery

Volkswagen is supporting its network of dealers who wish to put their service loaner fleet to use for free pickup and delivery of needed supplies and food.

As local delivery services normally relied upon are either shuttered or repurposed for essential needs due to COVID-19, Volkswagen dealerships have been looking for ways to still make an impact in their communities and answer calls to serve local needs the best way they know how.

A “Dealer Response Team” will consist of a dealership employee as a driver and a vehicle. The team can be called upon for tasks such as delivering food to a local food bank, transporting masks and gowns to an area of critical need, or even dropping off necessary items to someone unable to leave their home – all at no cost to the group or person making the request. Only dealership employees will be permitted to drive the vehicles. Volkswagen corporate will offer dealers a daily stipend per vehicle to cover fuel and lease costs. All transport requests are subject to dealership approval and availability.

“Since this pandemic began, our dealers have been quick to react to support those in need within their local communities,” said Saad Chehab, Volkswagen Senior Vice President of Marketing. “Some dealers already decided to “drive bigger” and start their own pickup and delivery service programs. Today, we are announcing our brand’s financial contribution to those efforts across the entire dealer network and giving them the support to do even more. So if you happen to see a Volkswagen Atlas driving by marked with “Community Driven” on its side, know it’s driving for a great cause.”

Nationwide, Volkswagen’s network of more than 600 dealers maintain a loaner fleet of nearly 7,000 vehicles, though some dealerships may be closed or working with reduced personnel due to state and local guidelines. All dealers are advised to adhere to local, state and federal health directions and recommendations to ensure the safety of their employees and program participants.

Those looking to enlist the services of the Community-Driven Atlas initiative should contact their local dealer to inquire about availability and assistance.

Honda Helps Heathcare Workers and Community

During this period of unprecedented challenge related to the COVID-19 pandemic, Honda is working to support its customers, associates, and business partners throughout North America, and, just as critically, to assist communities throughout the region where people are suffering the devastating effects of this health crisis.

Following is a summary of the actions Honda has taken, thus far, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic regarding its customers, associates and business operations:

Support of Healthcare Providers

  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): 10 Honda facilities in North America combined to donate over 200,000 items to healthcare providers and first responders, including gloves, face shields, N95 protective masks, alcohol wipes, half-mask respirators and other types of protective gear.
  • Honda associates at five different Honda facilities are using 3D printers to manufacture parts for face shields being donated to healthcare facilities and first responders.
  • Honda continues investigating the ability to meet critical manufacturing needs related to medical equipment such as compressors for ventilators, by partnering with other companies.

Community Support

Honda has initiated a significant and comprehensive new effort to harness the spirit of community in responding to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • Honda has pledged $1.0 million to address the immediate needs of communities across the U.S., Canada and Mexico, providing the most vulnerable with access to food. The pledge is part of a range of efforts Honda is undertaking to support community and government actions aimed at helping people combat the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The donations to food bank and meal programs are being distributed to nonprofit organizations that address food insecurity across the region.
  • Building on the commitment of Honda associates to community volunteerism, Honda has initiated a COVID-19 Special Matching Gift Program that enables associates to make monetary donations to food programs in their local communities, matching up to $1,000 for each individual associate. The matching fund is in addition to our $1.0 million pledge to address food insecurity.
  • The Honda Center, a Honda-sponsored entertainment venue in Southern California, has been used as a social-distant distribution center by the Second Harvest Food Bank to distribute food to those in need in Orange County.
  • “Virtual Volunteers”: Honda is empowering Honda associates in North America to help people in need in their local communities while maintaining social distancing. Some of the activities include making non-medical grade masks for neighbors and the community, neighbor wellness checks and use of social media and other efforts that can be completed from home.
  • Honda has launched the #ThankaHealthCareHero social media campaign to encourage people to offer gratitude to doctors, nurses, paramedics, fire, police and other frontline professionals who place themselves at risk in support of the public’s health and safety.

Customer Support

For our customers experiencing financial stress due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we have established a number of emergency relief measures.

  • The Honda and Acura brands have offered to help customers who financed their vehicles through Honda Financial Services or Acura Financial Services with payment extensions and deferrals, as well as available late fee waivers.
  • 90 Days to First Payment Program: 90-day deferred payment is available to qualified customers for new vehicle sales that are financed by Honda and Acura Financial Services.*
  • Effective April 1, we’re offering select and eligible first responders and healthcare professionals a $500 (Honda) or $750 (Acura) discount on new vehicles financed or leased through Honda Financial Services or Acura Financial Services.
  • To learn more about these and other programs, please visit our website at [https://automobiles.honda.com/covid-19]
  • If a vehicle requires repair or maintenance, pending state and local government recognition of transportation as an essential need, a local Honda/Acura dealer service operation should be open and able to provide service.

Honda Associate Support

  • Honda’s utmost concern is the health and wellbeing of our associates.
  • Honda has temporarily suspended production at all of our North American auto and powersports plants due to the decline in market demand caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.  Honda has utilized this time to continue deep cleaning of its production facilities and common areas to further protect associates upon their return to the plants.
  • Honda created a call center of Honda HR professionals to help associates navigate their benefits, income replacement opportunities and changes to 401(k) plan rules related to the CARES Act.
  • The vast majority of Honda associates are working remotely from home or place of residence.  In-office activity is limited to essential activities.
  • For those essential associates working in Honda facilities, the company is taking additional steps to support social distancing and other health and safety guidelines.  These measures may vary by location, but include staggering lunch times to reduce congestion in the cafeterias, limiting physical gathering, maintaining social distancing to the extent feasible, and adhering to the government recommendations for cleaning and disinfecting our sites based on CDC guidelines.
  • A new temporary paid personal leave of absence program is available for associates who are impacted by COVID-19 circumstances and not eligible for remote work. This leave of up to 14-calendar days (10 business days) is for associates who qualify under the following criteria:
    • Associates who cannot come to work due to being quarantined or a household member is quarantined; and/or
    • Associates who are experiencing childcare issues due to COVID-19 school or daycare closings for children 12 years old or younger, and dependents with special needs.
  • Associates who have COVID-19 or are being evaluated for COVID-19 are also entitled to this temporary paid personal leave of absence program to insure they are receiving full pay for the first 14 days of their illness (with disability leave available thereafter, if needed).
  • Travel restrictions:
  • Honda is prohibiting all international travel due to the latest advisories from the U.S. Department of State, with exceptions for critical need.
  • Honda is prohibiting all non-essential domestic travel within each country in North America.

Only business essential visitors are allowed to access each Honda facility with pre-approval from management.

Marketing/Social Media

  • Honda and Acura have adjusted marketing and social media efforts reflective of the challenges facing its customers.
  • Honda has a new marketing campaign that builds on the company’s pledge to communities and customers in response to the COVID-19 pandemic by adding meaning to The Power of Dreams during these unprecedented times. Titled “The Power of Something Greater,” the new advertising and social media campaign focuses on how the strength of coming together as a community can help people get through challenging times, and emerge even stronger: honda.us/PowerofSomethingGreater.
  • The visual elements of the campaign focus on the core ways that Honda is dedicated to supporting those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes highlighting the support Honda is providing to the community in the form of contributions to food banks and meal programs, support for healthcare providers and the virtual volunteer efforts of Honda associates. The campaign also will be featured across social media, where Honda continues its focus on connecting the community.
  • Acura is reminding customers how the brand is here to help during these challenging times in a new television spot. View Acura’s “Everything” spot here: acura.us/Everything
  • On social media, Acura is encouraging people to practice social distancing whenever possible through its #LessDriveMorePark campaign – suggesting to park vehicles except for essential travel, while offering useful information concerning driving during this unprecedented situation.

Arrivalist Arrives with New Data

Arrivalist, the leading location intelligence platform in the travel industry, today unveiled a day-by-day index measuring the volume of vehicle trips taken by U.S. travelers. Dubbed the Daily Travel Index, it is a free, publicly available tool on the company’s website designed to give travel industry leaders the most up-to-date data possible to make informed decisions in this challenging and uncertain environment. Leading industry associations such as the U.S. Travel Association and Destinations International have already begun leveraging the tool among their members to provide a daily pulse on current travel trends around the country.

“The Daily Travel Index not only allows the industry to monitor the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on travel, it has the potential to serve as an early indicator of when travel demand begins to return,” said Cree Lawson, Founder & CEO of Arrivalist.

Data for the Daily Travel Index comes from the trillions of location data points that Arrivalist aggregates from multiple data sources, including smartphones and other location data sensors. The tool uses a panel of GPS signals representing road trips explicitly taken in automobiles. A trip is measured when a consumer has traveled a minimum of 50 miles and spent at least two hours at their destination. Commuter, freight, delivery, and other types of frequently repeated trips are excluded from the Daily Travel Index. The Daily Travel Index includes travel for all dates from February 1, 2020 to the current day.

“Every day, travel leaders need the latest data on the rapidly evolving environment for travel,” said Roger Dow, President and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association. “We appreciate Arrivalist making this tool available as a critical source of intelligence for the industry.”

Prior to the launch of the Daily Travel Index, industry markers of travel intent primarily came from surveys, hotel bookings, and other data sources that are typically delayed by 10-14 days, compared to 48 hours or less for the Daily Travel Index.

“We are thankful that our strategic partner, Arrivalist, has created this complimentary industry tool for destination organizations to use to check the latest data on the industry’s daily travel activity,” said Don Welsh, CEO of Destinations International. “We are inspired by the work our members and partners are doing in response to COVID-19 and how our industry is coming together to help each other as we go through these challenging times together.”

Beyond the travel industry, other businesses like restaurants and retailers can use this tool to predict when they should restock inventory, reinstate advertisements, and get consumer-ready once more. This tool is free and available to the public on the company’s website here. Additionally, companies can request more information about the ability to create custom applications.

automotiveMastermind Goes Viral with BirDog

automotiveMastermind, part of IHS Markit (NYSE: INFO) and a leading provider of predictive analytics and marketing automation solutions for dealerships and manufacturers, is re-deploying sales and business development managers to prospect on behalf of dealer partners, demonstrating the company’s support and commitment to dealerships during COVID-19 disruptions. The virtual Business Development Center (BDC) program is currently piloting with 215 stores across the U.S.

So far, the program has generated the following results:

  • 339 hours worked on behalf of dealer partners
  • 283 sales follow-ups and virtual appointments booked

The combination of Mastermind’s industry experience and the integrated nature of the company’s Market EyeQ sales platform helped inspire the idea of creating a virtual BDC program. With Market EyeQ, each of Mastermind’s remote team members have access to the same data-driven customer insights as their dealer partners, making the process of prospecting and handoff seamless even from afar.

Small, local businesses have been hit particularly hard by the COVID-19 crisis and the precipitous drop in business due to “stay-at-home” directives. OEMs are faced with an urgent need to reconnect with their customers and rebuild their business. Rebuilding these businesses and communities when the “stay-at-home” directive is lifted will be a top priority. BirdDog is uniquely able to connect major automotive brands with these establishments to create partnerships that help reinvigorate business and celebrate the lifeblood of local communities.

BirdDog is a sophisticated, proprietary platform utilizing the latest in artificial intelligence, social listening, as well as geo and demographic targeting.  It more quickly identifies potential partners at a hyper-local level and connects OEMs with businesses that share their ethos and like-minded clientele.  All this more effectively, and at a fraction of the cost of traditional experiential approaches including sponsorships, pop-ups and tours.

With the vastly altered national landscape, BirdDog can play a key role as the economy begins to rebuild.  Automotive brands are now able to do far more than merely stage events at these establishments but can rally communities and raise funds to speed their recovery.

BirdDog CEO Kevin Killip said, “While brands are often drawn towards large events and sponsorships, BirdDog was created around the premise that more meaning and value can be found for all parties at a truly local level.  A brand taking the time to find and curate relationships with a consumer’s favorite local business, place of interest, or meeting place — that truly fits in their day-to-day lives — resonates at a much deeper and actionable level.”

As car companies plan their own comeback, BirdDog offers significant benefits as well.  Informed by data, designed to be nimble and activated at a local level, much of the waste of traditional experiential marketing is eliminated.  On average, BirdDog offers an investment level 40% lower than traditional approaches. Its unique pay-for-performance model was designed to eliminate risk, of even greater importance in the current environment.

James E. Press, board member of AVC Capital Group, an investor in car industry solutions for a disrupted industry said, “Marketing and retailing solutions today need to be more consumer-centric than ever; yet must clearly benefit the dealers and OEMs as well.  BirdDog looks to be constructed with that very premise in mind.”

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