Much of the country is getting ready for the gradual re-open process after COVID-19 lockdowns. Take a look at how these preparations are affecting various areas of the automotive industry.  

U.S. suppliers balancing customer pressure to restart with state stay-at-home orders. 

Like many other industries, auto suppliers are working to balance customer needs with on-going stay at home orders. French manufacturer Faurecia plans to resume work at the Michigan plant on May 4 to keep up with automakers’ plans to ramp up in the midst of COVID-19. In some states, such as Michigan, this may blur the line around essential functions while stay at home orders are still at play. The Michigan Manufacturers Association has asked Governor Whitmer to amend her at home order to allow this production to resume.  

Manufacturers are making it clear, they are expecting suppliers to be ramped back up and ready to fulfill orders beginning in May. However, suppliers are also faced with the challenge of convincing employees that they will be safe in returning to work. Faurecia distributed a memo to employees, informing them of safety measures that would be in place, including temperature checks and distribution of masks. However, the six-foot distance rule would only apply to employees without masks. All other workers would be expected to operate within three feet of each other.  

“This is going to be a very slow process in terms of everyone getting back to production. So much is going to be new and different within the plant facilities as well as for employees themselves. My sense is the first few days, if not, even weeks of production, will be much slower,” said Julie Fream, CEO of the Original Equipment Suppliers Association. 

Read the full details here to see how employees are feeling about being the first back in the workforce and what other automakers are planning.  

Honda’s Odysseys are patient movers. 

Honda is getting creative with how they are adapting around the coronavirus. The automaker has retrofitted 50 of their Odyssey minivans to have an airtight divider between the driver and passenger areas. This will allow the vans to safely be used to transport COVID-19 patients to the hospitals in Japan. A one-way airway system will keep drivers safe from possible contamination during the transport. The vehicles are being distributed to healthcare authorities in Tokyo. While Honda clarifies these vehicles are not meant to take the place of ambulances, they will consider making additional vehicle modifications if the demand calls for it. 

Jeep urges public to stay off the road in new campaign. 

The Jeep brand has always been known for its adventurous spirit. But during the coronavirus, the company’s new ad campaign is encouraging consumers to stay at home for the time being. The ad slot is part of a larger initiative from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles to encourage individuals to practice responsible social behavior during this time. The initial video slot brings a light-hearted tone and plays off the company’s Super Bowl theme from earlier this year.  

Additional portions of the campaign will have other focuses, such as thanking essential workers during this time. All ads will be united by the common hashtag #StayOffTheRoad and shared across the brand’s social media platforms. 

“There is only one relevant thing left, which is health and inspiring people to stay safe and stay healthy,” FCA marketing chief Olivier Francois said. “There’s no way we can tell people go buy a car because this is really not what it’s about.” 

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