Coronavirus Rampage Continues: 2020 Detroit Auto Show Nixed

Rimmi Singhi

The 2020 Detroit Auto Show has been postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic that is endangering lives and wreaking havoc on the global economy. In a bid to contain the spread of the pandemic, social distancing has been advised, leading to cancelation and postponement of various high profile events. Automotive industry event schedules have also been disrupted.

Detroit auto show is the fourth big-ticket auto show to be cancelled in view of the health hazard. The noteworthy auto show in Beijing, which was scheduled to begin on Apr 21, had been postponed as well. The 2020 Geneva Motor Show, which was supposed to be held in March, was cancelled after the Swiss government banned gathering of more than 1,000 people to prevent further spread of the virus. Early this month, New York Auto Show, one of the biggest events in the auto industry's annual event calendar, was rescheduled to late August. The Detroit show, officially known as the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS), has been nixed as well and will now be held in June 2021.

The cancellation of the shows comes at a time when the auto industry is reeling under pressure, with shutdown of factories, less customer traffic at dealerships and supply-chain issues amid virus outbreak. Moreover, the appeal of auto shows has somewhat started to fade due to logistics and cost issues. With automakers trying to connect with buyers through online advertising and social media campaigns, they have been scaling down their presence at auto shows.

Notably, the 2020 Detroit Show was pushed back from January to June to avoid clashing with other events. It was expected that the show, to be held during summer, would witness more vehicle debuts and draw more attention and footfall. NAIAS has long been an important event for Detroit 3 carmakers, Ford F, General Motors GM and Fiat Chrysler FCAU along with other foreign auto biggies like Toyota Motor TM, Volkswagen VWAGY et al. Each of the Detroit 3 auto giants carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

It is to be noted that NAIAS’s venue, TCF Center, will be repurposed as a temporary field hospital for the Federal Emergency Management Administration. Notably, Michigan is at the risk of becoming the next COVID-19 hotspot in the United States. Per Bloomberg, the state is registering new cases at more than triple the national rate.

Amid the uncertainty associated with the unprecedented health crisis and the resulting economic impact, the Paris Motor Show—expected to begin on Sep 29— has also been called off. The news followed the cancellation of the Detroit Auto Show.

Notably, many auto biggies that have temporarily shut down auto plants are now lending a hand in the fight against COVID-19 to tackle supply shortage of necessary medical gear and equipment. Ford is collaborating with GE Healthcare and targets to produce 50,000 ventilators within the next 100 days.Additionally, the company aims to manufacture more than 100,000 face masks each week and leverage its in-house 3D printing technology to create disposable respirators for healthcare workers.

General Motors is teaming up with Ventec Life Systems, and is poised to produce the first ventilators next month and ramp up to a production capacity of more than 10,000 critical care ventilators each month. The company plans to ramp up production to 50,000 masks per day for two weeks, with the potential to increase to 100,000 per day.

EV maker Tesla TSLA has joined forces with medical device maker Medtronic and Italy-based automakers Ferrari and Fiat Chrysler are in talks with Siare Engineering to help boost the production of medical equipments for treating the fast-spreading virus. Germany-based auto giants Volkswagen, BMW AG and Daimler AG are also exploring options to use 3D printers to produce ventilators. Indeed, automakers are heeding the call of government authorities and are coming forward to do their best in the face of the global health crisis.

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