Ford Stops Production and Heats Up Police Cars
Ford temporarily paused production on one line at Chicago Stamping Plant to complete enhanced cleaning and deployed employees to another part of the plant to work. Production on the affected line resumes later today. Ford is notifying people known to have been in close contact with the infected individual and asking them to self-quarantine for 14 days.
Ford has designed a new heated software enhancement to pilot with its Police Interceptor Utility – one that law enforcement agencies across the country can utilize to help reduce the footprint of the COVID-19 virus.
The latest example of smart vehicle technology, this software solution is available immediately on all 2013-19 Police Interceptor Utility vehicles in the United States, Canada and other countries around the world.
“First responders are on the front lines protecting all of us. They are exposed to the virus and are in dire need of protective measures,” said Hau Thai-Tang, Ford chief product development and purchasing officer. “We looked at what’s in our arsenal and how we could step up to help. In this case, we’ve turned the vehicle’s powertrain and heat control systems into a virus neutralizer.”
How it works
The solution is simple: Bake the vehicle’s interior until viruses inside are inactivated. Using Police Interceptor Utility’s own powertrain and climate control systems, this software solution enables vehicles to elevate passenger compartment temperatures beyond 133 degrees Fahrenheit1, hotter than Death Valley on its hottest day, for 15 minutes – long enough to help disinfect vehicle touchpoints.
Once activated, the vehicle’s powertrain and climate control systems work together automatically to elevate passenger compartment temperatures. The software warms up the engine to an elevated level, and both heat and fan settings operate on high. The software automatically monitors interior temperatures until the entire passenger compartment hits the optimal level, then that temperature is maintained for 15 minutes.
To research the effectiveness of this sanitization method, Ford worked closely with The Ohio State University to determine the temperature and time duration needed to help inactivate the COVID-19 virus.
“Our studies with Ford Motor Company indicate that exposing coronaviruses to temperatures of 56 degrees Celsius, or 132.8 degrees Fahrenheit, for 15 minutes reduces the viral concentration by greater than 99 percent on interior surfaces and materials used inside Police Interceptor Utility vehicles,” said Jeff Jahnes and Jesse Kwiek, laboratory supervisors at The Ohio State University department of microbiology.
Law enforcement will have multiple ways to monitor progress. Hazard lights and taillights will flash in a pre-set pattern to notify when the process has begun, then will change at the end to signal completion. The vehicle’s instrument cluster will also indicate progress. A cool-down process brings the temperature down from its highest points.
This heated process can be used by law enforcement regularly to help sanitize vehicles when officers are not inside. When used in conjunction with sanitization guidelines approved by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, flooding the passenger compartment with elevated air temperature can help reach areas that may be missed by manual disinfecting procedures. Heat has the ability to seep into crevices and hard-to-reach areas, helping reduce the impact of human error in applying chemical disinfectants.
Ford conducted software operational trials in vehicles owned by the New York City Police Department, Los Angeles Police Department, Michigan State Police, Massachusetts State Police, Boardman Township Police Department in Ohio and Seminole County Sheriff’s Office in Florida.
The need to move fast
The Ford engineering team initiated a project in late March to de-contaminate vehicles using heat. Shortly after, a discussion with the New York City Police Department alerted Ford to its need for a more efficient disinfecting process during the pandemic.
“Law enforcement officers are being dispatched as emergency responders in some cases where ambulances may not be available,” said Stephen Tyler, Ford police brand marketing manager. “During one trip, officers may be transporting a coronavirus patient to a hospital, while another trip may involve an occupant who may be asymptomatic.”
Used to supplement recommended cleaning methods, safely heating the passenger compartment can help ensure vehicles are properly disinfected before being deployed again.
“Officers can now use this self-cleaning mode as an extra layer of protection inside the vehicle in areas where manual cleaning is prone to be overlooked,” said Tyler. “This virus is an invisible enemy and we are proud to provide a solution to help the law enforcement community fight it.”
Large departments with their own service centers can install the software solution using their own diagnostic service tools, while other fleets can work with their local dealers to install the software for 2013-19 Police Interceptor Utility vehicles.
For 2016-19 police vehicles, the heated software process can be activated by a smart sequence of commands that involves pressing cruise control buttons in a predefined order. For 2013-15 vehicles, this mode can be activated and carried out through an external tool that connects to the onboard diagnostics port.
“Vehicles from the 2013 to 2019 model years make up the majority of Police Interceptor Utility vehicles currently in use by first responders,” said Tyler. “Delivering this new capability to these vehicles first allows us to help as many officers as possible, as quickly as possible.”
Ford will continue working on ways to bring this software capability to additional Ford police vehicles.
1When applied to factory-built Police Interceptor Utility vehicles. Ambient temperature, installation of partitions or other upfit equipment may impede temperatures from reaching the recommended threshold.
No More Free Tolls and More Public Transportation In Alameda County
In light of steadily rising traffic volumes on Bay Area freeways as shelter-in-place restrictions prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic begin to ease, the region’s three Express Lane operators — the Alameda County Transportation Commission, the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission — will resume weekday tolling on Monday, June 1 to ensure that travelers in key corridors have an option for a fast, reliable trip.
Beginning Monday at 5 a.m., Express Lanes on Interstate 580 in Alameda County; Interstate 680 in Contra Costa County; State Route 237 in Santa Clara County; and southbound I-680 over the Sunol Grade in Alameda and Santa Clara counties will reinstate the variable-rate tolling policies that were temporarily suspended March 20. On weekdays from 5 a.m. to 8 p.m., changeable electronic signs over the Express Lanes will once again display current toll rates for solo drivers who wish to travel in the Express Lane. Tolls rise or fall based on congestion in the corridor.
Along with the return of Express Lane tolling, commuters can expect several Bay Area transit agencies in the coming weeks to resume express bus services that had been temporarily suspended earlier this spring. Weekday traffic volume in most Bay Area freeway corridors is now reaching at least 60 percent of spring 2019 levels. Traffic counts in some Express Lane corridors, including I-580 through Dublin, Pleasanton and Livermore; and Highway 237 in Milpitas, San Jose and Sunnyvale this month registered close to 80 percent of last year’s levels during certain high-travel periods.
All vehicles using the I-580 Express Lanes, the State Route 237 Express Lanes and the 680 Contra Costa Express Lanes during weekday operating hours must be equipped with a FasTrak toll tag or an adjustable FasTrak Flex tag. Carpoolers and motorcyclists can use these lanes free of charge with a FasTrak Flex tag set to the “2” or “3+” position. While solo drivers must have FasTrak to use the southbound I-680 Sunol Express Lane, carpools and motorcycles can still use this lane without FasTrak.
Roll by Goodyear Donates Meals from Tire Sales
To help alleviate the pressures America’s food banks are facing to supply meals to communities impacted by COVID-19, Roll by Goodyear, an innovative new tire buying and installation provider in the greater Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. markets, will donate the cost equivalency of 100 meals to Feeding America for every tire sold. This donation will apply to all tires purchased through www.rollbygoodyear.com or at any Roll by Goodyear location through June 30, 2020.
Roll by Goodyear is dedicated to making tire buying and installation as simple as possible for the communities it serves, particularly in today’s challenging environment. While Americans continue to exercise caution to obtain the products and services they need for daily life, Roll by Goodyear is uniquely positioned to offer contact-free services throughout the entire tire buying and installation process. Tires can be purchased online or via phone, and guests can schedule the mobile tire shop to come to their home, work parking lot, or other qualifying location that doesn’t require direct contact with others and install the tires at no extra Roll by Goodyear also offers professional valet services at no additional charge that will pick up and return guests’ vehicles for tire service at their qualifying preferred location. For extra precautionary measures, valet team members wear gloves and utilize steering wheel, seat and floormat covers in order to avoid contact with the interior of the vehicle. All touch points are also disinfected upon entering and exiting the vehicle. charge.
Frost & Sullivan Predictions Post COVID-19
Frost & Sullivan’s recent analysis, COVID-19 Growth Impact Assessment for the Automotive Industry, 2020, presents the impact of the pandemic on the automotive sector under three scenarios—gradual containment, severe pandemic, and global emergency—resulting in outcomes ranging from steady recovery to recession. Under the severe pandemic scenario, original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) will try to capitalize on China’s early recovery from the pandemic, while overall economic relief measures in the U.S., Germany, France, and the U.K. will provide the necessary boost to the market in the post-recovery period.
“Major Asian vehicle manufacturing countries such as China, Japan, and South Korea, which accounted for 40% of global vehicle production in 2019, are on the recovery curve. The other two major automotive manufacturing powerhouses, the U.S. and Germany, are expected to resume production partially by mid-June,” said Vigneshwaran Ramesh, Automotive & Transportation Senior Research Analyst at Frost & Sullivan. “Additionally, risk mitigation strategies such as offering financial flexibility and support to the entire ecosystem, including to dealers, suppliers and customers, will help OEMs of the world to revive.”
Vignesh added: “The impact of the pandemic on the automotive sector will unlock new opportunities for other mobility verticals such as electric vehicles (EV), vehicle leasing, and connectivity solutions. EV sales will experience a medium impact as China will revive fastest from the pandemic with manufacturing plants returning to normal. Further, new vehicle leasing for the corporate segment is expected to sustain moderate growth, owing to the demand for greater flexibility and short-term contracts, whereas OEMs will emphasize connectivity services to enhance their revenue stream.”
To tap into opportunities in this COVID-19 recovery era, consider the following growth prospects:
- OEMs and dealers should focus on digital retailing and empower customers on their online journeys.
- With the rise of eCommerce, light commercial vehicle (LCV) leasing and rental solutions are gaining traction, especially during the pandemic.
- With increasing epidemic outbreaks (SARS, MERS, and COVID), OEMs can ramp up connectivity services, emphasizing the need for health, wellness and wellbeing services within the vehicle.
- Contactless and touchless business concepts will leverage aftermarket opportunities, helping on-demand service models gain further momentum.
Parking Makes a Comeback
ParkMobile, the leading provider of smart parking and mobility solutions, revealed new data that shows increasing parking transactions in cities across the U.S. In early to mid-March, as fears of COVID-19 spread and more cases were diagnosed, cities and states shut down and people stayed at home. This caused a significant drop in the number of daily parking transactions in cities. The ParkMobile app is available in over 400 cities in the U.S., so the company’s data presents a clear view of the impact of the pandemic on consumer mobility.
There was a severe drop in parking transactions as COVID-19 cases increased in March and states started to shut down. Compared to the previous month, parking transactions were down almost 95% across the country. This indicates that most non-essential workers were following the stay at home orders to help prevent spread of the virus.
In recent weeks, ParkMobile data reveals that activity is starting to gradually pick up. Cities and states are lifting some restrictions and parking transaction volume is slowly increasing on a week-to-week basis. This is a clear sign that people are going out more often. In Chart 2 in the infographic, you can see the week-over-week growth in parking volumes. It is still not clear from the data if and when things will get back to pre-COVID-19 levels.
The top 10 cities in the U.S. saw a slower rate of decline in early-to-mid March than smaller cities overall. Chart 3 in the infographic shows that the big cities hit their bottom about a week after the smaller markets. The rate of recovery for big cities has also been flatter than smaller cities because they did not initially decline as much.
Beach communities are seeing the biggest increase in parking volume as people are looking for activities where they can be outdoors while social distancing.
Parking transactions in beach communities are outpacing those in cities. As summer approaches and the weather gets warmer, beach parking transactions should continue to increase. ParkMobile recently introduced service to the Borough of Belmar at the Jersey Shore. According to Belmar Mayor Mark Walsifer, “The Borough of Belmar wants to ensure the safety of visitors and residents. By partnering with ParkMobile to offer contactless parking payments, we are working to provide our community with a smart mobility option for anyone looking to spend time at the beach.”
While parking volumes are picking up across the country, the way people are paying for parking is also changing. Cities are actively promoting contactless payments through apps like ParkMobile in an effort to stop people from touching the meters. Many cities are reporting that utilization of the app versus the meter has shifted heavily towards the app over the past three months. One large city reported that utilization of the app versus the meter jumped from 60% up to 80%.
In a recent move, New York City Department of Transportation launched the ParkMobile app in addition to the current ParkNYC app, also powered by ParkMobile, to give people more mobile payment options in the city. According to a recent statement from NYC DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg, “DOT is asking all New Yorkers who can to switch to Pay-By-Cell, which will reduce the need for physical cash transactions at our 14,000 parking meters. Contactless Pay-By-Cell reduces exposure risk for the public and our workforce. Please help us reduce the need to physically service parking mete/rs and collect, sanitize, and securely store cash during this crisis.”
“It’s very clear that one of the lasting impacts of COVID-19 will be that people want more contactless payment options,” says Jon Ziglar, CEO of ParkMobile. “We’re proud that we can partner with cities to promote use of the app in order to keep people safe and protect city workers.”
ParkMobile continues to encourage people to do everything they can to prevent the spread of the virus including wearing masks, washing hands, and social distancing. The company’s headquarters in Atlanta, GA, has been closed since March 12th, and all 200 employees have been working from home since that time. The company hopes to reopen in the near future but will only do so when it is safe for employees to return.
ParkHub and SpotHero, leaders in digital parking solutions, have joined forces to promote a contactless, frictionless parking experience for fans and guests. The companies’ integrated technology solution allows venues to sell parking in advance of events, swiftly authenticate digital passes onsite, and manage parking demand during operations. As part of the promotion, SpotHero is offering ParkHub clients up to 50% off their standard rate for a limited time.
Over a year before the COVID-19 crisis took hold, ParkHub and SpotHero executed a long-term partnership to improve the parking experience for consumers across the United States. By integrating platforms, the companies established a seamless, end-to-end parking experience that has been adopted by Major League Baseball’s Washington Nationals, Major League Basketball’s Chicago Bulls and Milwaukee Bucks; National Hockey League’s Chicago Blackhawks, and National Football League’s Ravens, through SP+ Baltimore.
Semiconductor Growth Will Return Post COVID-19
The full impact of COVID-19 in economic and supply chain disruption terms, remains a dynamic variable that will dictate automotive semiconductor demand in the near term. The Strategy Analytics Powertrain Body Chassis and Safety (PBCS) service report, “Automotive Semiconductor Demand Forecast 2018 – 2027,” predicts that the automotive semiconductor market will contract by almost 7% in 2020 in a baseline scenario.
Electrified powertrains and safety systems will underpin a return to growth as well as longer term opportunities, collectively growing at a CAAGR (compound annual average growth rate) of over 13 percent over the 2019 – 2024 timeframe and accounting for over 50 percent of the automotive semiconductor market in 2024.
“COVID-19 will significantly impact automotive semiconductor demand in 2020, with recovery hampered by a staggered return to normal vehicle production across the major vehicle production regions”, notes Asif Anwar, report author and PBCS Service Director.
Mr. Anwar continued, “On a positive note, the automotive semiconductor industry was already riding a wave of demand from electrification and ADAS (Advanced Driver Assistance Systems) technologies pre-COVID-19. This will support the industry in its return to a normalcy, albeit at a lower baseline, as well as drive up the average semiconductor content per vehicle through 2027.”
Automotive Semiconductor Demand Forecast 2018 – 2027 provides detailed analysis of global semiconductor unit and revenue opportunities in Powertrain, Chassis, Safety, Body and Driver Info domains for the key regional markets, as well as detailing demand major product component categories.