In Coronavirus COVID-19 automotive news are Volkswagen, Honda, GM, Volvo,
VW Dealers Help Out Neighbors
From organizing senior meal deliveries to leading donation drives, Volkswagen dealerships across the country are doing their part to help find new and inventive ways to support their neighbors during these difficult times. Below are three examples of dealerships driving something bigger in their local communities.
To show their appreciation to essential workers, Auburn Volkswagen in Washington decided to come up with multiple plans to help address the growing need in their community. “My wife and I really believe the purpose of having a business is to take care of our community and drive something bigger than ourselves,” says owner Matthew Welch.
Their recent efforts include buying lunch from a local restaurant for the entire Auburn police department, providing support to organizations delivering resources to families in need, and gifting 10-gallon gas vouchers to healthcare workers. “We were looking for the most beneficial ways to give back and thank our community,’” says Welch.
He says the response from the community has been immediate and overwhelming. More than a hundred hospital workers have poured in – some driving over an hour away – to stop by the dealership to claim the free voucher. Welch plans to expand his charitable efforts to the Auburn fire department in the coming days.
In Florida, Rick Case Automotive Group similarly felt compelled to action amid COVID-19. “We strongly feel that this [organization] is one to donate to, because it is getting out there, getting food to the people right now at the time it is needed the most,” Raquel Case said.
The charitable group plans to use the funds to distribute 350,000 meals to families impacted by the pandemic. “They’re a huge pillar of this community, and we appreciate everything they’re doing,” said Paco Velez, Feeding South Florida’s president and CEO.
Over in North Dakota, Volkswagen of Bismarck has raised more than $30,000 since March towards COVID-19 relief efforts in its community. The team has purchased gift cards in $500 chunks at locally owned businesses and donated them in $50 increments to local hospital workers, police officers, firefighters and emergency medical staff.
“We call them our frontline heroes,” says Volkswagen of Bismarck brand marketing manager Jenna Adam.
In addition to gift cards, the dealership has provided complimentary rental vehicles to local restaurants to use for delivery services. “A little effort can go such a long way for these small businesses,” said Adam. “Our community has always been there for us and we wanted to show we are here for them, always.”
At Tom’s River Volkswagen in New Jersey, owner Tom McMenamin received a tip from one of his employees that senior citizens were struggling with a lack of access to essential goods. He and his team developed a daily delivery service for four local retirement communities. Manned by three dedicated attendants six hours a day, the service has already helped more than 200 families.
“No matter what the situation is – bad or good – there’s always some light that can come from it,” says McMenamin. “Many of the individuals we’ve helped have loved ones that live far away and are not able to provide them with the help they need, which includes access to life-saving medicines.”
Vic Bailey Volkswagen in Spartanburg, S.C., has donated more than 500 pounds of non-perishable food items to a local disaster relief program after hearing food banks and pantries across the country were suffering from a disruption in food donations and volunteers.
The dealership launched the drive in early April and challenged their community to fill the cargo area of an Atlas with items to help support the most vulnerable members of their community affected by the pandemic.
“I honestly didn’t check [the trunk] for several days because I was nervous that people wouldn’t participate,” said Vic Bailey Volkswagen general manager Hal Foster. “But when I walked past the trunk, I was shocked. It was already filled with items.”
Within days, the dealership had to put the third row down to allow for more room. Soon after, the second had to come down. “I think there’s a lot of value in times like these … when we, as a community, focus our attention on others rather than ourselves,” Foster says.
While the drive will continue to run through April, the team has already collected triple the amount of food items they typically raise around Thanksgiving.
“Volkswagen is interested in doing more than selling cars to people,” said Foster. “Volkswagen is interested in partnering with people and doing life together, which in turn gives us the drive to do something bigger every day for our community.”
“Drive Bigger is not just a slogan,” he added. “It’s a call to action – and we are showing up.”
Honda’s Response to COVID-19 Continues
As part of its broad-ranging response to help protect frontline healthcare professionals during the COVID-19 pandemic, Honda engineers have developed new methods to use manufacturing equipment to produce critically needed face shields and have donated 70,000 face shields to healthcare workers at 305 medical facilities in 45 states to date with plans to donate another 60,000 in the coming days.
Honda engineers at Honda Engineering North America (EGA) in Marysville, Ohio, the in-house company that creates much of Honda’s production equipment, made the face shields by designing new uses for high-speed injection-molding technology ordinarily used in the production of vehicle components. While EGA is manufacturing face shields, a multi-company effort in Canada that includes Honda of Canada Mfg. (HCM) is making the frames, shields and headbands for additional units.
“Team Honda has really stepped up to the challenge on a tight timeframe,” said Hugo Beltran, associate chief engineer at EGA. “We make a car about every 50 seconds, and that’s the same type of approach that we’re taking for these face shields. We’re using our mass production expertise and equipment to produce a large quantity of shields to help people in our communities.”
From Auto Parts to Face Shields
Honda began making face shield frames in March, using a network of 3D printers at five manufacturing facilities. However, the company’s engineers determined that the 3D printers could not produce the volume to meet expected demand. Honda engineers began looking at other options and focused on one of the company’s in-house manufacturing capabilities: plastic injection molding.
Converting machines and processes that make plastic parts for automobiles into a production line for face shields was a complex task. Honda associates also worked with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to understand requirements and ensure that the shields were suitable for contact with skin. The single-use shields have been authorized for use during the COVID-19 pandemic by the FDA pursuant to an Emergency Use Authorization.
After studying various designs in consultation with healthcare professionals, the team of Honda engineers began building a special die to enable the plastic injection molding equipment to produce over 3,000 face shields per hour.
“It was a comprehensive effort with our Honda design and manufacturing teams working together to quickly solve this challenge,” said Eric Walli, Regional Planning Leader of Honda North America. “We were looking at materials, doing scientific work to understand if what we put in a face shield would be safe for humans to wear and all of this was occurring as we sought to rapidly begin, and then ramp up production.”
Honda of Canada Mfg. Lends Expertise to Other Manufacturers
In Canada, Honda worked with two manufacturers seeking to quickly expand their ability to produce face shields. Honda engineers and manufacturing associates from Honda of Canada Mfg. collaborated with Ontario-based Molded Precision Components (MPC) to convert a warehouse into a manufacturing center for the frame components. The Honda team helped create the plant layout, install eight new injection-molding machines and enhance the receiving and shipping infrastructure.
Once the frames were produced at MPC, Honda helped establish a supply chain to Sterling Industries in Concord, Ontario, where the headband and Mylar shields were assembled. At Sterling, Honda used its manufacturing expertise to design and develop automatic packing lines to prepare the shields for high-volume shipping. With increased production capacity, Honda will help the companies pursue Sterling’s internal goal of producing 27 million face shields to be distributed throughout Canada.
“This project has given our team the ability to help two companies to come together and find creative solutions to bring these desperately needed face shields to the market in a very short time, and ultimately to help our frontline healthcare workers,” said Dwayne Switzer, HCM production engineer and face shield project lead. “I am proud to work for Honda, a company that not only cares deeply about the safety of its associates but also cares about our community.”
Honda Dealers Help Direct Donations
Honda tapped its extensive network of automobile, powersports and power equipment dealers to identify medical facilities in local communities across the country in need of protective gear. Using their local knowledge and relationships, these independent Honda dealers contacted medical facilities and helped arrange donations.
“We are incredibly grateful for this generous and much needed donation from Honda,” said Gregory Monette, interim CEO, Community Hospital of Huntington Park, after receiving 1,600 face shields through the Helpful Honda Dealers in Southern California. “Our physicians, nurses and staff are working tirelessly to care for the community, and these face shields help to protect our workers and patients.”
Other COVID-19 Response Initiatives
In addition to producing face shields, Honda has been involved in a number of other initiatives to address issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic, including assembling components for ventilators; providing modified Honda Odyssey minivans to transport people potentially infected with COVID-19 while helping to protect the safety of the transport driver; pledging $1 million to provide the most vulnerable North American communities with food; engaging and empowering its associates in North America to help people in need in their local communities while maintaining social distancing; and donating more than 200,000 items including gloves, N95 masks, alcohol wipes, half-mask respirators and other types of protective gear. To learn more about these efforts, visit http://covid19.honda.com.
Maine Honda Dealers Donates to Schools
The Maine Honda Dealers donated $3,000 to six local schools to continue its fight against child hunger. Each dealership within the association selected a school to support with the special donation.
“Taking care of our community, especially our young growing minds, is very important to the Maine Honda Dealers,” said Yegor Malinovskii, President of Maine Honda Dealers and Market President at Berlin City Auto Group. “A lot of students rely on school-provided lunches, and with schools closed because of COVID-19, many children lost the guarantee of at least one daily meal. This is a great way to ensure Maine’s children are still eating.”
During the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, food insecurity increased across Maine. One in four kids could face hunger because of the virus. Families, particularly households with young children, are in need of more resources. The Maine Honda Dealers partnered with local schools to bridge the food gap while school is not in session. Donations were made to the following local schools:
Prime Honda Saco – Fairfield School Summer Meals Program
Berlin City Honda – Gorham’s BackPack Program
Lee Honda – Auburn Public Schools
Charlie’s Honda – Marcia Buker Elementary School
Darling’s Honda – Stillwater Academy
Griffeth Honda – Presque Isle School Administrative District #1
This initiative furthers the association’s mission to be actively involved in improving the community. Previously, the association partnered with Hannaford and NEWS CENTER Maine to deliver food through food donations, financial contributions and volunteering. During 2018 and 2019 yearlong campaigns, the dealers raised $441,623. The Feed Maine Campaign proceeds benefitted the Good Shepard Food Bank and have enabled them to distribute more than 1.2 million meals throughout the state of Maine.
Volvo Sanitizes with Social Distancing at Dealers
Luxury carmaker Volvo is taking safety to a new level by helping its retailers implement a stringent set of health protections in showrooms and service centers as coronavirus restrictions ease across the U.S.
In 1927 Volvo was founded upon the idea that cars are driven by people, and therefore the guiding principle behind everything the company does is, and must remain, safety.
In 2020, having the freedom to move safely and freely is more critical than ever.
To start, Volvo Car USA has provided retailers across the U.S. with a unique playbook based on information from the Centers for Disease Control and local and industry guidance, which outlines cleaning, hygiene and social distancing protocols, as well as access to the tools they need to safely restart operations,
Highly visible Point-of-Sale materials include:
- A-frame and countertop signage to educate customers about being safe and following process
- Directional and location signage like Footprint Stickers and Floor Distance Strips to help building occupants maintain safe distances
- Key bags to minimize contamination
- A specialized, nine-point vehicle sanitization and disinfection process around service, test drives and walk arounds protect consumers and employees with minimal disruption
In addition, Volvo Car USA is facilitating critical upgrades its retailers can implement to help prevent the spread of disease. Retailers have the opportunity to invest in pre-designed plexiglass hygiene barriers, hands-free door openers, steering wheel and seat coverings, specialized cleaning and sanitizing materials, and of course disposable masks and gloves, through a centralized sourcing process.
“First and foremost, Volvo is about safety,” said Anders Gustafsson, Senior Vice President Americas and President and CEO Volvo Car USA. “The ability to move safely and freely about the world will always be critical. We have partnered with our retailers to create spaces that aim to make everyone feel safe and comfortable, whether they’re looking for a new car, getting their Volvo serviced, or are in their workplace.”
In-store preparations and precautions are in addition to remote services that enable consumers to engage with the brand from the comfort of their homes. These include the Volvo Virtual Showroom, where shoppers can take a digital walkaround of new Volvo cars; new-car home delivery; and Volvo Valet pickup and delivery for service appointments. Consumers can visit www.volvocars.com to learn more.
GM Launches YouTube Learning about EVs
Schools may be winding down the remote-learning programs put into place during the COVID-19 pandemic, but parents, teachers and students everywhere are seeking new ways to keep minds active and inspired outside the classroom during the summer months. General Motors is lending support by releasing Electrifying Engineering, a free educational video series designed to foster ingenuity through hands-on activities, while educating kids about electric vehicle technology.
Electrifying Engineering episodes will be released on YouTube every Sunday through July 2020. Episodes are hosted by different members of the GM team and touch on a wide range of topics, including electric car charging, electric car motors, autonomous vehicle sensors and more. Episodes will feature an interactive engineering project designed for viewers to conduct in the comfort of their own homes, with everyday household items.
When the project is complete, viewers are encouraged to share a picture on social media using the hashtag #ElectrifyingEngineering.