Coronavirus and COVID-19 Automotive News: Toyota, AAMU,Volvo, Ford, GM & AAM

In coronavirus and COVID-19 news this week are AAMU Toyota, Volvo, Ford, GM and AAM.

AAMU & Toyota

Alabama A & M University (AAMU), Huntsville Hospital and Toyota are developing a mobile health clinic initiative to provide free COVID-19 testing to underserved communities in Madison County. Launching later this year, the mobile medical clinic program has the capacity to test up to 50 people per day for COVID-19 while deployed at neighborhood locations, serving walk-in patients.

The collaboration evolved from a partnership established in 2018 between Toyota and Alabama A&M to identify and solve mobility-related community needs. Toyota provided grant funding and Toyota Way training to support a student-led program where assessments and research were conducted to determine the need and develop a solution.

With COVID-19 testing needs on the rise, AAMU allocated $100,000 of its Toyota funding to Huntsville Hospital Foundation to support the cause, and Huntsville Hospital stepped in to offer clinical services and training for AAMU students in the field.

The mobile medical clinic, comprised of two mobile units, will work collaboratively with the City of Huntsville’s COVID-19 response plan and goals to increase local testing options that do not require doctor’s orders. In the future, the unit will have the capacity to provide preventative care and health screening services.

Volvo Buses Offer Disinfection Options-Volvo Buses Answers COVID-19 Question

Volvo Buses is offering retrofitting ways to disinfect buses and answered some questions.

What can bus operators do to minimise risks and increase safety for passengers and drivers?

“As a bus operator, we advise you to look at which product accessories and customisations are suitable for your application. For example, it could involve looking at processes for boarding, disembarking or payment, to minimize contact with the driver. You can also ensure there are decontamination solutions in place for your vehicles such as air purifiers, separation glass, hand sanitiser and other disinfecting solutions. It is also important to have clear communication with passengers about the recommendations that apply and what measures need to be taken on board the bus. It not only increases awareness, but also reduces anxiety.”

Volvo’s Suggestions Include:

General maintenance recommendations:

  • Vacuum clean the passenger area, and both the defroster and air recirculation filters every day.
  • Use disinfecting fluid to clean handrails and all surfaces that may be touched by hands, repeating frequently during the day.
  • At the end of the working day, sanitise the entire passenger area, for example with the Ozone Generator, in the Clean & Care Program.
  • Volvo offers the following:
  • Continuous disinfection – ECO3

    The ECO3 disinfector is one of the most effective ways to proactively  work against bacteria and virus. This device continuously produces ozone gas that cleans the air and reduces particles and organic substances on  all surfaces with which it comes into contact, resulting in widespread disinfection of the bus interior.

    • Retrofit kit is available
    • The ECO3 disinfector has been tested and validated by the independent SGS agency

    Driver separation

    To reduce contact with passengers and minimise the risk of virus transmission, these partitions are a good choice for making the driver’s environment safer. Choose both or only side or rear partition.

    • Retrofit kit is available
    • Transparent and clear view, easy-to-clean materials
    • Materials according to ECE 43 standards

    Disinfecting fluid dispensers

    Make it easy for drivers and passengers to maintain good hand  hygiene and increase the cleanliness of the entire bus. Easy access  for people who enter or exit the coach, or who use the lavatory.

    • Retrofit kit is available
    • Refillable and works with any type of sanitiser
    • Available as manual or automatic model

    Disinfecting box – Ozone Generator

    Start the day or a new trip with a sanitised vehicle by using the Ozone Generator, a disinfection device that performs complete disinfection  of the vehicle. This method requires an empty vehicle during cleaning  and 20 minutes afterwards, making it a good cleaning choice during  the lunch break or at the end of the working day.

    • To be activated daily for 20 minutes
    • Needs a 230 V power supply
    • Easy to transport: 29×15×23 cm
    • Lightweight: 3 kg

Kia Accelerates the Good

Kia Motors continues to “Accelerate The Good” through the donation of personal protective equipment (PPE) to hospitals and medical facilities nationwide. This week, the Kia “Telluriders” delivered face shields to Howard University Hospital in Washington, D.C. The deliveries are part of Kia’s Accelerate The Good initiatives, which includes ongoing face shield donations to medical facilities not only in the metro Washington, D.C. area, but also to facilities throughout Georgia, Illinois, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, and Southern California. The face shields are assembled at Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia in West Point and the brand will donate more than 500,000 face shields nationwide to help in the fight against COVID-19. In addition, Kia donated $1 million to non-profit partners that assist America’s homeless youth population.

Ford Helps Testing with Ford Transits for Mobile Testing

Ford and its in-house incubator Ford X have provided four Ford Transits – each fully equipped for mobile COVID-19 testing – as mobile screening units to conduct and support testing for symptomatic and asymptomatic patients. This includes a Transit that’s been upfitted to provide a better environment for health care workers, with built-in features such as drop-down tables, additional power sources, centrifuges for blood draws, refrigeration and more protective equipment.

Additionally, each vehicle is equipped with tents, sanitation, power and Wi-Fi to support mobile testing. Two Lincoln Personal Driver vehicles previously provided by Ford continue to be used to run medical equipment and supplies to the testing sites and lab facilities, and the company continues to consider other ways to expand the fleet.
While priority access continues to be given to first responders and others on the front lines of the pandemic, this effort is also providing testing services to local communities at large, serving those who are high risk, those who may have had exposure to the virus, and those who may be asymptomatic. Health care workers are providing tests at locations such as nursing homes, substance abuse centers, homeless/community shelters and more.

In addition to active virus and antibody testing related to COVID-19, the service has been expanded to include HIV testing and blood pressure screenings. These services have been added to support those who may have high risk for disease in general, underlying conditions, or who may not have access to more traditional health care services.

As part of this program, clinicians and professionals from Wayne State University, the Wayne State University Physician Group and ACCESS are providing free testing that does not require a prescription from a physician. Test results are typically returned within 24 hours.

“Our recent research found that drivers are worried about the safety of their own and other peoples’ cars. One in ten (10%) said that they are worried about the safety of their vehicle after this period of little or no car usage, while one in four (25%) are worried about the safety of other cars on the road. Despite drivers’ nervousness about the safety of their vehicle, one in three (33%) people who own or have access to a car have not checked any aspect of their car since lockdown began. Only a quarter (25%) have checked their brakes during this time, 32% have checked the battery and the most commonly checked item on people’s cars were the tyres (51%).”

Honda & GM Fuel Cells of Hand Sanitizer

As part of an industry-wide effort to help alleviate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, Honda and General Motors (GM) are producing nearly 12,000 gallons of hand sanitizer through their Fuel Cell System Manufacturing (FCSM) partnership. The hand sanitizer will be used by both companies at their facilities throughout the region and Honda is donating 3,750 bottles to health care facilities in Ohio and Michigan this week.

The hand sanitizer is being made at the Brownstown, Michigan facility where the FCSM team has been working on the development of fuel-cell fuel stacks for the next generation of hydrogen-powered cars. Using an apparatus designed to manufacture the electrodes used in the fuel cells, the team developed a process to re-purpose the equipment to produce a hand sanitizer that would allow employees and health care professionals to work more safely.

Honda will donate nearly 75 percent of its allocation of the hand sanitizer, packaging the product in easy-to-use nine-ounce bottles for health care facilities. On Monday, June 22, Honda made the first such donation of 1,250 bottles each to ProMedica Toledo Hospital in Toledo, Ohio, Memorial Health in Marysville, Ohio, and the DMC Children’s Hospital of Michigan in Detroit, Mich.

Packaging Corporation of America donated the packaging needed to ship the product, and the FCSM team worked with other companies to handle the bottling. In addition to donating hand sanitizer to health care facilities, Honda will provide 1,500 gallons of the product for use in its manufacturing plants, as part of the effort to provide a clean and safe environment for its associates.

AAM Feeds & Protectively Clothes Detroit Frontline Workers

When the COVID-19 crisis hit the Detroit area, AAM wanted to help local heroes who were on the frontlines serving the community. The company also wanted to assist local businesses impacted by area shutdowns and closures.

Working with several local organizations, #TeamAAM provided thousands of meals for hospital workers, fire fighters and police officers from local family- or independently owned restaurants. The company also provided personal protective equipment (PPE) to the City of Detroit for use by frontline workers.

“We wanted to support our local frontline heroes while helping local businesses suddenly impacted by the pandemic,” said Chris Son, AAM Vice President, Marketing and Communications. “We are incredibly grateful for frontline workers who dedicated so much during the pandemic. We were all in this together and we couldn’t have done it without them.”

Over a two-week period, AAM worked with Frontline Appreciation Group (FLAG) and Feed the Frontlines Detroit to provide more than 2,700 meals to area hospitals to feed doctors, nurses and support teams during the pandemic. The meals were sourced from smaller restaurants, many of which were affected by in-dining closures.

“A special thank you special thank you to AAM who provided a very generous donation to FLAG which will allow us to serve almost 2,000 meals from 8 restaurants to 4 hospitals over two weeks!! The deliveries each day help support not only our local frontline heroes but help provide much needed business to many local restaurants struggling to stay afloat,” said the FLAG team.

#TeamAAM also helped provide more 2,400 meals to the Detroit and Hamtramck Police Departments and 800 meals to the Detroit Fire Department through a grassroots effort led by Matt Shepard, the play-by-play announcer for the Detroit Tigers.

AAM Associates visited several precincts to deliver meals and extend AAM’s thanks to officers working near the company’s headquarters in Detroit.

AAM also provided much-needed PPE including face masks, hand sanitizer and protective items to the City of Detroit to be used as needed by hospitals, first responders and emergency workers.

Additionally, AAM made a sizable donation to the Pope Francis Center’s COVID-19 relief effort. Located in the heart of downtown Detroit, the Pope Francis Center provides services to the city’s homeless population, which include meals, hot showers, laundry facilities and access to doctors, dentists, lawyers and housing providers.

Car Shopping Goes Online

 

New research from Comscore, a trusted partner for planning, transacting and evaluating media across platforms, finds a modest recovery in the automotive industry is ongoing, as market shoppers and sales continue to rise and automakers launch fully digital vehicle shopping and delivery services.

According to information from Comscore Automotive Data Mart and Wards Automotive, both in-market new vehicle shoppers and sales began to bounce back in May 2020, with market-wide shoppers rising 24 percent and sales rising 57 percent from the record lows of April 2020. However, market-wide shoppers and sales remain lower than is typically expected in a month that perennially sees elevated incentives, shopper interest and sales. The recovery was likely driven by the preliminary easing of lockdowns coupled with the successful rollout of near record-level incentives and customer support programs across automotive brands and dealers.

“As automakers try to reach consumers with adequate incentives and respond to concerns over in-person contact during the coronavirus pandemic, many are beginning to launch efforts to adopt fully online purchase and home delivery capabilities across their brands and dealer networks,” said Dennis Bulgarelli, Vice President, Automotive, Comscore. “The question remains – is there an appetite for online vehicle shopping and at-home delivery?”

Early figures suggest there is some consumer interest in at least considering online purchase and home delivery options. Looking at the General Motors and Fiat Chrysler groups, buy.gm.com and DriveFCA, respectively, both have initiatives aimed at online delivery options. Buy.gm.com is reached through their “Shop. Click. Drive.” program upon initiating the “buying process” – which includes calculating loans, finalizing details, and contacting dealers for further discussions and delivery set up. While the program itself is not new, additional functionality, such as low-contact delivery options, and end-to-end coverage is a novel response to changing behavior today. DriveFCA is similar, albeit a more recent domain launch, offering an all-in-one site for its various brands’ shoppers to search inventory, explore financing, and get connected to dealers for delivery. According to information from Comscore’s Desktop Panel, GM’s site saw a 28 percent month-over-month boost in unique visitation in May 2020. Likewise, DriveFCA saw a 14 percent increase month over month since its first month online in April 2020.

Visitation to Ford’s online shopping domain, shop.ford.com, is another example of this emerging interest in fully digital vehicle shopping and delivery services. Shop.ford.com is several years old, but with the onset of COVID-19, the brand deployed new efforts to expand the service to cover home delivery and has incentivized dealers who joined in the program. Though the visitation to the site overall has waned year over year (down 13 percent), it did see some recovery from April 2020 as well. By contrast, visitation to inventory search pages on the site, shop.ford.com/inventory, – an important key indicator indicating more serious shopping – was up 17 percent from April 2020 and up 29 percent from May 2019.

Comscore will continue to monitor these trends and provide ongoing insights on its Coronavirus Insights Hub.

NACTOY Helps Feed America

The North American Car, Utility and Truck of the Year Awards (NACTOY) announced today that it has awarded $40,000 in scholarships and charitable donations to the College for Creative Studies (CCS) and Feeding America.

The charitable donations were made through a partnership between NACTOY and the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS). NACTOY jurors selected the recipients of these awards through a voting process that began with a list of respected charities and college scholarships and was narrowed down to the two recipients.

CCS and Feeding America will each receive a total of $20,000 from NACTOY and NAIAS.

The College for Creative Studies has created NACTOY Automotive Design Scholarships that will award $10,000 scholarships to two students over a two-year period. The recipients will be selected by the Transportation Design Department Chair, Paul Snyder.

Feeding America® is the largest hunger-relief organization in the United States. It provides meals to more than 40 million people each year through a network of 200 food banks and 60,000 food pantries and meal programs.

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