Coronavirus COVID-19 Automotive News: Research, Rides & Growth

In coronavirus COVID-19 automotive news are ParkMobile, Ridecell, Continental, research and 5G.

The Road Less Traveled , Fewer Events & Contactless Payments

ParkMobile, the leading provider of smart parking and mobility solutions, released a new research study tshowing the impact of COVID-19 on consumer behavior. The survey, conducted with over 2,000 ParkMobile users in the month of May, reveals that people plan to make significant lifestyle changes as a result of COVID-19 over the next two years, including less travel, less commuting, and attending fewer events. Additionally, people plan to use mass transit and ride sharing less often and use their personal vehicles more often.

The survey concludes, “It is clear that COVID-19 will have a significant impact on consumer behavior for the foreseeable future. People will be commute less, travel less, and attend fewer events. When people do go out, they will use their personal vehicles more and opt for contactless payments when available. This could evolve over time as people adapt to this ‘new normal’ and we will continue to monitor these trends in the future.”

The complete survey results are posted on the ParkMobile website. Below are some key highlights.

  • People say they will work about 50% fewer hours in an office environment
  • 29% of respondents expect to use their personal vehicles more often
  • 46% of respondents will take public transportation less often and 29% of respondents expect to use ride sharing options less often
  • Over 40% of respondents plan to attend fewer concerts, sporting events and other large gatherings
  • 30% expect to do less personal travel and 34% expect to do less business travel

Additionally, survey respondents expect to increase usage of contactless payment options, allowing them to pay without needing to hand someone cash, a credit card, or touch physical payment hardware. According to the survey, 40% expect to increase their use of contactless payment options in the coming year, while only 4% expect that use to decrease.

“It is clear that COVID-19 is creating a ‘new normal’ for people everywhere,” says Jon Ziglar, CEO of ParkMobile. “This study shows that people are being extra cautious when it comes to the places they are going, how they are getting there, and the way they are making payments. These behavior shifts will most likely continue until there is a vaccine.”

Users expect their event or public gathering attendance to significantly decrease (between 35% – 45%). People are clearly not prepared to go back to events with large groups of people crowded together. One notable exception is the beach. Beaches are outside and allow for more social distancing than other public areas/events and therefore will not be as impacted – less than 20% expect to decrease their beach attendance but 11% expect to attend beaches more in the next year. Concerts and festivals, perhaps the most densely crowded of the event categories, will see a sharp decline in attendance when compared to the previous year. It’s clear a big impact of COVID-19 is that the majority of people are not ready to go to events with large crowds anytime soon.

Ridecell & Continental Partner to Support ZITY

Ridecell Inc., the leading platform provider for shared mobility operators, and technology company and automotive supplier Continental which also provides keyless entry solutions that enable sustainable and connected mobility,  announced that they are collaborating to support ZITY who is offering free services to medical workers. Ridecell is the platform that powers shared mobility customers, and Continental provides its Key as a Service (KaaS) solution that allows service providers to securely access and start vehicles using an App, and manage the vehicle status from the cloud. Together, the companies are offering discounted access to their mobility cloud products to ZITY in Paris during the pandemic to support essential workers. Shared mobility thrives on an ecosystem of partners, and during this crisis, each is doing its part to help front line workers.

“In times of plenty and in times of crisis, Ridecell helps shared mobility operators remain agile and adjust to customer need and demand,” said Aarjav Trivedi, CEO of Ridecell. “We do that through our platform’s data combined with our vast ecosystem of partners who work together to deliver exceptional customer experiences. During COVID-19, that ecosystem has come together in the service of medical teams and essential workers. We are proud to do what we can to thank these personnel for saving lives while they risk their own. This is a small gesture in comparison to the epic work they do, but we’re happy to help them move to and from work without worry.”

While ridehailing and carsharing services have taken a hit during the COVID-19 outbreak as fewer people commute, essential workers and delivery services have experienced an increased need for vehicles. Shared mobility operators are offering free rides and rentals to front-line service workers. ZITY is offering free week-long rentals to healthcare and Red Cross workers in Paris to help them get to and from work without worry or costs. Ridecell and Continental have adjusted their pricing for ZITY in solidarity with their commitment to essential workers.

“While every company is facing their own hardships during this crisis, it is still important to work together to get through these challenging times,” said Ms. Jennifer Wahnschaff, head of Intelligent Transportation Systems business segment at Continental. “We salute our customers for going above and beyond to service their communities right now. Ridecell and Continental were inspired to discount our joint cloud offerings and bolster ZITY’s efforts.

Safety Back-to-Work Shuttles

CharterUP  unveiled a first-of-its-kind service to help companies seamlessly charter buses that can bring their employees back to work safely. Building on CharterUP’s foundational bus reservation platform, this new offering allows organizations to request and book private shuttles that support a variety of safety parameters, including social distancing requirements, face masks and temperature checks. Unlike public transit or traditional ridesharing services, this model fosters controlled commuting environments so employees can get to work as safely as possible as the economy re-opens and the country adjusts to a post-COVID-19 era.

Credit is Resilient Post COVID-19

-Auto market participants are expecting subprime auto loan performance to deteriorate, and many predict COVID-19 will have a long-term impact on the sector. However, participants also show signs of resiliency, according to the second annual market study released  by Davis & Gilbert LLP’s Credit Chronometer.

  • There remains a consensus in the market regarding the importance of securitization performance and the negative trajectory of loan performance.
  • Participants have expressed significant concern regarding the impact of COVID-19 on their desire to participate in securitizations.
  • Only one group of participants believes credit extensions will be the main cause of credit rating downgrades.
  • There are warning signs reflected in participants’ expectations regarding the efficacy of government programs and their views on how the pandemic may impact their future participation.


Fuel Consumption Down and Up

Gas consumption in the United States has just hit a big milestone; it is now more than halfway back to pre-COVID-19 levels as motorists get back on the road amid at least a partial recovery of the U.S. economy, according to OPIS, an IHS Markit (NYSE: INFO) company.


Fill-ups at the pump hit the rock bottom in the second week of April, down 49 percent from 2019 volumes, as spiking COVID-19 cases led to the shutdown of the economy and stay-at-home orders across the nation. That was also the week that oil exporting countries hammered out the OPEC+ deal—with the direct involvement of the United States—to reduce production in a greatly oversupplied market experiencing record-low crude prices.

The most recent OPIS survey shows that in the second week of June demand was down 22%, compared to the same week in 2019, but regional disparities are still prevalent.

“Although people talk about ‘demand destruction’, it’s actually been ‘demand contraction’ in response to the economic shutdown,” said Daniel Yergin, vice chairman, IHS Markit. “And now we’re seeing demand ‘uncontracting’ as people get back into their cars.”

OPIS DemandPro tracks actual weekly same-store gasoline volumes at over 15,000 stations, aggregated on a national, regional and state level. This allows users to track and benchmark industry trends for overall retail gasoline sales.

“The most timely insight into market trends comes from the market itself—actual retail gasoline sales,” said Fred Rozell, president, OPIS. “Gasoline sales have been rising at an average of 6.4% per week since the low point in April when demand was sliced in half. There is still more ground to cover, but the positive trends are a sign of recovery.”

Whether gasoline demand can fully retrace the route back to 2019 levels remains challenging, however.

“We can see a new preference for driving your car instead of public transportation or a short-range flight, and people do want to get out,” said Tom Kloza, global head of energy analysis, OPIS. “But that will be offset by less commuting and more working from home, the cancellation of sporting events, still-high unemployment levels and possibly a second wave of the virus in the autumn.”

“The gap in consumption between this year and last year will continue to narrow, but at this point we don’t see demand reaching the record levels of last year,” Kloza continued. “Still, the continuing recovery at the pump is good news for a battered U.S. economy that needs a fill-up with some good news.”

Regional-specific findings:

  • Volumes were the most challenged in the Northeast, off 27% from this point last year. Massachusetts was down most at 33%. Connecticut, which is a little further along in opening than other New England states, was off 28%.
  • The Western region was 25% below prior-year levels. California, the largest gasoline market in the nation, is down 26, while Colorado has had the biggest recovery in the region and is now down 20 percent compared to pre-crisis levels.
  • Other states that are seeing a stronger revival include Indiana, with year-on-year consumption off by just 15% and Florida, down 19%. Texas was off by just 18%.

OPIS DemandPro updates gasoline retail sales every week.

5G Grows Despite Pandemic

– 5G progress in connections and deployments continues despite the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting economic downturn according to 5G Americas, the wireless industry trade association and voice of 5G and LTE for the Americas. According to data from Omdia, there are now over 63.6 million 5G connections globally as of Q1 2020, which represents 308.66% growth over Q4 2019.

Chris Pearson, President, 5G Americas said, “Globally, 5G remains the fast-growing generation of wireless cellular technology ever, even as the world is gripped with a pandemic. In North America, we are seeing consistent, strong uptake of new 5G subscribers as new devices have been released that can take advantage of low-band and millimeter wave frequencies. At the same time, new network capabilities are being added.”

Globally, there are now 82 5G commercial networks, a number which is expected to more than double to 206 by the end of 2020, according to data from TeleGeography. In addition, there are now over 100 commercial 5G device models available globally, according to the Ericsson Mobility June 2020 Report, with increasing support for low-band, mid-band and millimeter (mmWave) frequency bands.

Despite global strength in the number of 5G network rollouts, regional differences are beginning to emerge due to the localized impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to Jose Otero, Vice President of Latin America and Caribbean, 5G Americas, “The impact of COVID-19 is finally being felt Latin America’s and Caribbean’s telecom industry. The decrease in remittances arriving from Europe and North America together with the mandatory lockdowns imposed by many regional governments decreased the purchasing power of a large percentage of the population.”

Regionally by the end of Q1 2020, North America had 1.18 million 5G connections and 494 million LTE connections. This amounted to 100% growth in 5G, a gain of 591 thousand 5G connections over the quarter and 2.34% growth in LTE, a gain of 11.3 million LTE connections over the quarter. For Latin America and the Caribbean, Q1 2020 saw 3004 5G subscriptions (142.85% Q4 2019 to Q1 2020 growth) and 372 million LTE subscriptions (3% Q4 2019 to Q1 2020 growth), respectively.

Looking ahead, Omdia projects 5G connections will reach 238 million globally by the end of 2020, of which North America will account for 10 million connections. According to Kristin Paulin, Senior Analyst at Omdia, “We expect growth to pick up in the second half of the year, following the easing of lockdowns as well as continued 5G network expansion and the availability of more 5G devices.” Latin America and the Caribbean will account for an additional 270 thousand connections by the end of the year. Global 4G LTE connections remain strong and are expected to reach 5.7 billion, of which 506 million (4.8% annual growth) will come from North America and 404 million (11.8% annual growth) will come from Latin America and the Caribbean.

To minimize the impact of the pandemic, some governments in Latin America and the Caribbean have made adjustments to communications services taxes and terms. In addition, Otero says “The lack of devices due to global logistic obstacles has resulted in negative subscriber growth and slower uptake of newer technologies. It is expected that until the situation normalizes all spectrum assignment processes would be delayed and that no new networks would be launched during this period.”

Overall, the following number of networks using wireless technologies have been deployed as of June 15, 2020, according to TeleGeography:

5G: 82
LTE Advanced: 328
LTE: 677

North America:
5G: 7
LTE Advanced: 9
LTE: 20

Latin America & Caribbean:
5G: 5*
LTE Advanced: 50
LTE: 127

*Source: TeleGeography and 5G Americas.