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We may have a clearer picture of how coronavirus-related shutdowns are going to hit the auto industry. That and more in The Morning Shift for April 6, 2020.

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1st Gear: Brits Expect $8 Billion Per Week In Lost Value

The IMF already used the “r” word when discussing how the global economy has fallen thus far. But how bad will it be? One UK-based research group has a projection, as the Financial Times reports:

The car industry’s shutdown in Europe and North America is set to cost more than $100bn in lost revenues if factories across both continents remain closed until the end of April.

Lost European sales are forecast to rise to 2.6m cars, worth €66bn, while in North America they will hit 2m cars, worth about $52bn, if — as expected — the closures remain in force for the rest of this month.

The calculations have been made by Ian Henry, who owns research group AutoAnalysis and compiles vehicle output forecasts for Britain’s motor industry trade association, the SMMT.

Mr Henry said each further week that European sites were closed would cost the industry an additional €8bn in lost production value. In North America, the figure would be up to $7.5bn.

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The piece goes on to note that previous projections about restarting production by the end of March, well, haven’t exactly panned out. Makes you wonder about current projections, too!

2nd Gear: Coronavirus Will Not Stop What’s Important: The Nissan Rogue Redesign

People are dying, factories have ground to a halt, but at least Nissan is keeping its eye on the prize: launching a new generation of its Nissan Rogue crossover in the autumn. Apparently the Nikkei has expected a delay in sales as Nissan’s Smyrna, Tennessee factory is halted at the moment, but Nissan is plowing ahead as Automotive News reports:

Nissan has committed to the fall launch of the next-generation Rogue crossover, despite keeping all its U.S. plants offline through late April in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“At this time, our new model launch programs for the U.S. are on track. The all-new Nissan Rogue will be in U.S. showrooms this fall,” Nissan Motor Co. said in a statement Monday.

Let nothing get between us and crossover sales.

3rd Gear: VW U.S. EV Sales Somehow Down

Car sales in general are plummeting, but it’s still a bummer to see declining sales on VW’s electric vehicles, as Inside EVs reports:

Electrification of the Volkswagen brand in the U.S. is moving slowly - e-Golf is declining, while the ID.3 is not even planned.

Volkswagen reports sales of 75,075 cars in the first quarter of 2020 (down 13%) in the U.S., but only less than half a percent were actually electric.

The general sales are affected by the COVID-19 outbreak (in March sales went down by 42% year-over-year).

The only plug-in model - the all-electric e-Golf - noted just 361 sales, which is 58% less than a year ago and just 0.48% of all VW (4.7% of Golfs).

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This comes after VW announced that it’s going to have to get the ID.3 into showrooms by August, covid-19 or nah, lest it face fines.

4th Gear: U.S. Pickup Sales Somehow Up

We talked the other week about how pickup sales fell much less than the rest of the auto market in general. Either sheepish Americans just can’t imagine a life without their trucks as normal, or frightful Americans expect that the world at large will collapse and their leather-lined F-150 will help them ride out the apocalypse.

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In any case, we underestimated things, as Automotive News reports today:

In a quarter when total U.S. new-vehicle sales fell double digits, deliveries of full-size pickups rose 3 percent. General Motors posted its best first-quarter full-size pickup sales in 13 years after rolling out no-interest financing on seven-year loans, and Ram was among just three brands in the entire industry to report an increase last week.

As sales dried up at dealerships around much of the country starting in mid-March, there was far less disruption in states such as Texas, Florida and Georgia, where governors were slower to put restrictions on residents and businesses. March pickup sales were exactly in line with J.D. Power’s pre-coronavirus forecast in the Southeast and off just 1 percent in the South Central region. Meanwhile, sales in the Northeast plummeted 29 percent below expectations.

“As some states put strict social distancing orders in place, others were business as usual, and for us, that meant truck sales continued,” a GM spokeswoman said.

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As the great Connor O’Malley once prayed, one thousand years of blood, to keep you rich with money.

5th Gear: Now Was Not The Time For Aston Martin

We reported earlier that Aston Martin isn’t looking the healthiest, as production had to shut down not long after a billionaire dumped $500 million into the company. Now Aston has opened a fresh $100 million credit line, fearing it might be dead within a year, as the Financial Times reports:

Aston Martin has opened a fresh $100m credit line after warning the business will run out of money for its current spending plans within 12 months.

[...]

This is a critical year for the company, which is about to launch its first ever sport utility vehicle, the DBX, which was due to be delivered to customers in the second quarter.

Chief executive Andy Palmer said the model “will start production shortly after returning from the Covid-19 enforced shutdown, with an order book now exceeding 2,000 units and deliveries still planned for summer 2020, dependent on production and supply chain returning as currently anticipated.” 

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Every day is a new day that I weep we won’t see Aston Martin Valkyries fighting Gazoos and Mercedes Project Ones at Le Mans.

Reverse: An Early Introduction Of Video Calling

Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey debuts in theaters on April 6, in 1968.

Kubrick, whose 1964 Cold War satire Dr. Strangelove had been popular with audiences and critics alike, was intrigued by science fiction but felt the genre rarely produced interesting films. He became determined to make one, using the sci-fi story The Sentinel as source material and enlisting its author, Arthur C. Clarke, as his co-writer. The film does feature a coherent plot, involving two scientists and a highly-intelligent computer sent to investigate a mysterious event near Jupiter, but several scenes—including the film’s now-legendary opening, which seems to depict hominids learning to use tools after the appearance of a mysterious monolith—are surreal and highly open to interpretation. Filming required the construction of a giant centrifuge to serve as the spaceship’s interior and numerous expensive visual effects, including a groundbreaking psychedelic sequence near the end of the film so complex that staff referred to it as the “Manhattan Project.” Kubrick is said to have removed over 15 minutes from the final cut, which nonetheless ran well over 2 hours.

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Neutral: Who Makes It Out?

An interesting piece in Bloomberg today on the global political and economic reality of coronavirus discussed rising protectionism. It makes me wonder if we may end up with more smaller carmakers rather than fewer bigger ones, reversing the trend of the past few decades. But maybe I am dreaming more than projecting.

Raphael Orlove is features editor for Jalopnik.

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