Coronavirus and the car world: New guidance for driving lessons
Latest updates: Masks and gloves for driving instructors, SMMT issues dire jobs warning, government advisors call for car tax hike
The massive global effects of the coronavirus pandemic have had an equally seismic impact on the car industry.
As lockdowns were put in place across the globe to tackle the spread of the virus, production halted as factories were shut, while the closure of dealerships caused new cars sales to plummet. The financial values of every car firm have taken a major hit, while most major motoring and motorsport events have been cancelled.
This is Autocar’s rolling round-up of how the car world is being impacted, and its recovery as lockdown restrictions slowly ease. It will be updated regularly with information and links to more in-depth stories.
*Friday 3 July: DVSA issues guidance for driving test examiners*
*● Learner drivers** *will be allowed to resume driving lessons from Saturday (4 July) in preparation for their practical exam, which can now be booked from 22 July onwards.
New procedures for examiners and instructors have now been outlined. In order to minimise social contact, test centre waiting rooms will be out of action, appointment times will be staggered and all exterior and interior touch points will be disinfected between lessons and tests. Masks and gloves are also expected to be worn at all times while in the car, and students must declare whether they have recently demonstrated symptoms.
*Thursday 25 June: Driving lessons to resume in England in July*
*● **Driving lessons *will be allowed to resume in England from 4 July onwards, the government has confirmed. Lessons were suspended as part of the coronavirus lockdown measures introduced in March, but there had been growing concern from instructors that no timeline has been outlined for them to return as restrictions were each.
Jacob Rees-Mogg, the leader House of Commons, has said that lessons will be able to resume early next month. The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) will shortly write to driving instructors to set out plans for how to restart lessons and tests safely.
Rees-Mogg said the government wanted to assist instructors in "a return to life that is as close to normal as possible", and added there would be a "phased approach to resuming practical testing." Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland set their own rules for driving lessons and tests.
*● *The Commission on Climate Change (CCC), an independent government advisory group, has called on the UK government to increase car tax as part of steps to help reduce carbon emissions. The group believes the tax hike should be introduced shortly because the impact will be mitigated by the reduced cost of fuel due to falling demand in the recent lockdown. Read the full story here.
*Wednesday 24 June: Fiat Chrysler secures £5.7bn loan*
*●* *Fiat Chrysler Automobiles** *has secured a £5.7bn credit line backed by the Italian government to help it recover from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Read the full story here.
*Tuesday 23 June: SMMT issues bleak car industry job warning, McLaren takes legal action to secure funding*
*●* One in six jobs in the UK automotive industry are at risk due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to the *Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders *(SMMT). The industry bosy has called on the government to offer a 'restart' package to help the industry recover by boosting demand and increasing cashflow. Read the full story here.
*●* *McLaren** *has taken legal action against a group of creditors in order to allow it to go ahead with an "urgent" round of refinancing that it says is needed to overcome the "severe" financial impact of the coronavirus crisis. Read the full story here.
*Friday 19 June: BMW to cut around 6000 jobs, Welsh dealerships set to open on 22 June, US race events to allow fans back in*
*● *The *BMW Group** *has announced plans to cut around 6000 jobs as it bids to recover from the impact of the coronavirus crisis. The move has been signed off by the German Works Council.
BMW said the "planned workforce reductions" would be achieved through attrition, voluntary agreements, and not renewing temporary worker contracts. BMW says the moves "mainly" affect its workforce in Germany.
*● **Car dealerships in Wales *will be allowed to open from Monday (22 June), the Welsh government has announced – and despite a legal requirement for people to stay local remains in place. Showrooms will be allowed to trade along with other non-essential shops once they have met new health and safety criteria, but the Welsh government has maintained a rule that prohibits people from travelling more than five miles, except in certain circumstances.
*● *The *Donington Historic Festival *will not run in 2021. The event had been postponed in May, but organisers have been unable to find a suitable alternative date in 2020.
*● *The rescheduled *Pikes Peak International Hill Climb *in Colorado, USA, will run without spectators this year. The long-running event on the 14,115ft high mountain has already been postponed until 30 August. With the mountain's high elevation, unpredictable weather and limited access it only attracts a limited number of spectators – although around 30,000 fans usually attend the now-cancelled pre-event Fan Fest.
*● *Some motorsport events in the USA are opening to spectators. Around 5000 fans will be allowed to attend this Sunday's *NASCAR Cup Series* event at Talladega in Alabama. With a capacity of up to 175,000, social distancing should not be a problem. NASCAR is also planning to allow around 30,000 fans to attend this year's All-Star Race on 16 July at Bristol Motor Speedway in Tennessee - around 20% of the venue's 162,000 capacity. Alabama and Tennessee have already eased many coronavirus lockdown restrictions.
The *IndyCar Series *race at Iowa Speedway on 17/18 July will also allow around 5000-6000 fans to attend each day. The circuit has a capacity of more than 25,000. Tickets are also being offered for the races at Road America in Wisconsin on 11/12 July, a large road course where fans should be able to spread out.
*Thursday 18 June: Peugeot treats NHS like friends and family, Ferrari's hometown F1 shakedown*
*● **Car dealerships in ***S*cotland* will be allowed to open from 29 June onwards, after first minister Nicola Sturgeon announced plans to ease lockdown restrictons in the country. Showrooms, along with other shops that have outdoor entrances and exits, will be permitted to open as long as they have met new health and safety guidelines.
After dealerships in England and Northern Ireland were allowed to open in early June, Wales is the only region of the UK yet to announce plants to allow showrooms to open. Welsh government offiials have hinted they could announce tomorrow that restrictions could be eased next week.
*● **Peugeot* will extended its 'Pride' friends and family discount scheme to UK National Health Service employees, enabling them to gain discounts on all of the firm's new cars. The discounts are available through Peugeot's online home ordering system.
*● **Ferrari* staged an unusual warm-up for the rescheduled 2020 Formula 1 season, with Charles Leclerc driving the team's latest SF1000 F1 car through the streets of Maranello. The publicity run, staged 110 days after the machine last ran in pre-season testing, was undertaken as a special tribute to Ferrari's hometown.
Leclerc started his run at Ferrari's Officina Classiche. He emerged from the main factory gate, passing in front of the Gestione Sportiva where the F1 team is based, before passing the Maranello Museum and ending his run at Ferrari's Fiorano test track.
*Wednesday 17 June: New car sales in EU continue to struggle, Formula E to end season with six race at one circuit, All Volkswagen plants now open*
*● **New car sales in the European Union* fell by 52.3 per cent year-on-year in May - but did show a major recovery from April. A total of 581,161 cars were sold across the 27 EU countries in May as coronavirus lockdown restrictions were eased, compared to 270,682 in April. In the first five months of 2020, 3,331,715 cars have been sold in the EU, a year-on-year decline of 41.5%.
New car sales in Spain continued to struggle in May, with a 72.7% year-on-year decline. Sales in France year down 50.3%, while Italy posted a year-on-year decline of 49.6% and Germany was down 49.5%. For comparison in the UK, which is no longer in the EU, sales were down 89.0% year-on-year in May, a result of lockdown restrictions remaining in place longer.
*● **Volkswagen* has now resumed production at all 16 of its car plants worlwide, with work resuming at its Puebla plant in Mexico yesterday. The factory has been shut for 11 weeks due to the coronavirus crisis, with work resuming after officials there implemented the VW Group's 100-tiem safety plan. Volkswagen says that all of its passenger car plants are operating at different capacity due to various safety requirements and demand for new cars, with capacity at an average of 60-70 per cent of normal levels.
*● *Electric single-seater championship *Formula E* will conclude its 2019/2020 season with six races in nine days at Berlin's Tempelhof Airport. Because the series races on street circuits in large cities, organisers faced a major challenge to find venues to end the championship season. Events at the Excel centre in London and Brooklyn, New York have been cancelled. Five races had been held before the coronavirus pandemic began.
The six races will be run as three double-header events on 5/6, 8/9 and 12/13 August, with each pair of race using a different circuit layout at the old airfield venue. No spectators will be allowed.
*Tuesday 16 June: No clarity over driving lessons and tests, but PPE prioritised*
*● *The *Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency* (DVSA) is still unable to clarify when driving lessons and tests will be allowed to start again.
Lessons remain suspended, with the exception of key workers, until the government confirms a date. Industry representatives are still aiming for 6th July as a provisional date, but are calling for clarity to be given to ensure they have sufficient time to prepare themselves and students who have been off the road for nearly three months.
Driving instructors have now had guidance over rescheduling tests booked prior to the pandemic shutdown, and have been asked to put all new test bookings on hold for the foreseeable. The DVSA has also ordered PPE for all driving examiners to ensure safety.
*Friday 12 June: Singapore, Japan and Azerbaijan grand prixs cancelled, PSA's 'virtual showroom' opens*
*●* The *Formula 1 *Azerbaijan, Japanese and Singapore grand prixs have been cancelled for this year, following an agreement between the sport's bosses and race promoters. F1 bosses said that uncertainty over scheduling meant that finalising logistics for the Singapore and Azerbaijan races given that both take place on street circuits. The Japanese race has been cancelled due to "ongoing travel restrictions" in the country.
F1 chiefs are still aiming to stage a 15-18 race calendar this year, starting in Austria early next month and ending in Abu Dhabi in mid-December. The schedule for the first eight races has been released, and the final calendar is set to be published ahead of the first Austrian race.
F1 motorsport boss Rass Brawn said that there were "lots of different options", with the potential for further races to be added in Europe. Tracks including Mugello and Imola in Italy, Portimao in Portugal and Hockenheim in Germany are under consideration. Bahrain could also stage a double-header event near the end of the season, with the extra race potentially using one of the many alternative configurations of the circuit. Brawn added that Bahrain had "a nice sort of almost oval track that would be quite exciting."
*●* The *PSA Group* has launched a new 'virtual showroom' system across its Citroën, DS, Peugeot and Vauxhall brands, which will allow customers to view live online walkround vehicle tours, consult with 'brand specialists', book test drives and buy vehicles. The virtual showroom will run from 12pm to 8pm every day.
*Thursday 11 June: Fiat to restart Panda production, Motorsport UK to provide PPE to event organisers*
*●* *Fiat* is set to resume production of the Panda at its Naples plant in Italy on 16 June - a move that represents a positive sign for car sales in the country. An official for the UILM union said Fiat informed him production could resume at pre-lockdown levels, according to Reuters.
Production of the city car was originally due to restart on 8 June, but was delayed due to weak demand. The union official did hint that, while demand was improving, it was still weak and there could potentially be production stoppages. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has already resumed production of its commercial vans and Jeep Compass and Renegade models in Europe.
*●* *Motorsport UK*, the governing body of the sport in Britain, says that it will provide £50,000 worth of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to registered clubs and Rescue and Recovery units to help them meet Covid-19 safety requirments to stage events this year. It is establishing a central PPE procurement channel to assist clubs with further supplies, and will also provide individual pocket hand sanitiser to all officials working at events. Motorsport events will be allowed to resume in the UK from 4 July onwards, although events must be closed to spectators.
*●* The children of NHS workers will be given the chance to become 'virtual future F1 stars' at this year's *British Grand Prix.* Motorsport UK has launched an initiative to find children aged from seven to 10 who will be future stars and appear as part of the pre-race anthem ceremony for the 2 August event. Entry details can be found here.
*●* The organisers of the *London to Brighton Veteran Car Run *have delayed an announcement on plans for this year's event until July so that they can further monitor the development of Covid-19. The event is due to take place on 1 November. Ben Cussons, the chairman of the event organisers, said that the health and safety of participants was the chief concern, but they are looking "at a range of options" and were "determined" to stage the event in some form.
*Wednesday 10 June: Vauxhall's Ellesmere Port plant won't reopen until September, Fresh doubts over scrappage scheme, Chinese car sales continue to recover*
*●* *Vauxhall’s Ellesmere Port* plant won’t reopen until after 1 September due to “the commercial situation” of the Astra model built there, parent company PSA Group has announced. Production was suspended at the site in March.
The PSA Group, Vauxhall’s parent firm, did not offer further explanation in the release, but with European showrooms only just opening after being closed for around two months and demand for new cars set to remain low for the remainder of the year, Vauxhall/Opel is likely facing significantly reduced demand for the family car.
The bulk of PSA’s European plants have reopened, including Vauxhall’s Luton facility where the Vauxhall/Opel Vivaro, Peugeot Expert and Citroen Dispatch are built. With strong demand for the commercial models, PSA will begin a third shift at that site, with staff redeployed from Ellesmere Port to Luton for a temporary period on a voluntary basis.
In a statement, the PSA Group said: “The Company proposal will protect employment and support the ability to respond to significant demand for LCV production with highly trained and skilled workers for the Ellesmere Port site, while demand for Astra is building sufficiently.”
*●* The UK government is reconsidering plans to introduce a new *scrappage scheme *to boost car sales, according to the Financial Times. Key government figures have told the newspaper that the scheme is unlikely to go ahead because of concerns if will not stimulate UK production and economic growth in the way hoped. Read the full story here.
*●* The Chinese car market has continued to recover strongly since the country's coronavirus lockdown was lifted. According to date produced by the China Passenger Car Association (CPCA) overall sales in May were up 1.9% year-on-year, with 1.61 million cars sold. That backs previously research that suggests the Chinese public are increasingly turning to cars because of health concerns about using public transport since Covid-19 emerge.
While the rise in sales is encouraging for the industry, there are some reasons for caution: the CPCA does not expect the year-on-year growth to continue in June, because of strong sales in this month last year. Key industry figures have also cautioned the Chinese market growth is driven by the high number of first-time buyers in the country, suggesting that European markets are likely to undergo a slower recovery from their coronavirus lockdowns.
*●* Lexus has postponed the launch of its new IS saloon due to the 'recent global situation'. While the firm didn't specify the exact reason, it is understood to be a combination of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and the recent worldwide anti-racism protests. Read the full story here.
*Tuesday 9 June: Wales Rally GB scrapped, London Concours to go ahead*
*●* *Wales Rally GB, *Britain's round of the World Rally Championship, has been cancelled for 2020 due to ongoing uncertainty over staging mass events. Read the full story here.
*●* The *London Concours *will go ahead this year after organisers secured official approval. The event at the Honourable Artillery Company HQ in the City of London was due to take place in June, but has been postponed until 19-20 August. Organisers say they have secured extra space at the venue and devised a new operational plan, including a restricted ticket allocation. More than 100 classic cars are due to be displayed at the event.
*●* The *Alfa Romeo Museum *in Milan, Italy, will reopen on 24 June – the date of the firm's 110th anniversary. The special reopening will include access to the usually private 'backstage' area of the venue, giving access to around 150 extra vehicles. Revised operating hours will be in effect
*Monday 8 June: Nissan resumes production, UK government set to announce scrappage scheme*
*●* *Nissan *has restarted production at its Sunderland plant after almost three months of shutdown due to the pandemic. The firm claims it has spent hundreds of hours preparing the site to ensure employees can return to work safety. Additions include screens and dividers between operators, plus one way systems throughout. Nissan has also now opened up more than 95% of its showrooms across Europe, with only a small number not yet open in Portugal, Spain and the UK, and partial opening in Russia.
Also opening today is the *Jaguar Land Rover *plant in Halewood, near Liverpool. The facility, which builds the Range Rover Evoque and Land Rover Discovery Sport, has only opened on a single shift for now, with a huge number of new processes in place.
*●* The UK government is set to launch a *new scrappage scheme *that will offer buyers of new electrified vehicles up to £6000 if they trade in an older petrol or diesel model. Reports suggest the new initiative, designed to boost the economy following the coronavirus lockdown, will be unveiled in July. Click here for the full story.
*●* *Car showrooms in Northern Ireland* are allowed to open again today as the country eases coronavirus lockdown restrictions. Dealerships are allowed to open to sell new and used cars to customers, as long as health and safety measures including social distancing are in place. The opening comes a week after showrooms in England were allowed to allow customers in. There is still no news on when the Welsh and Scottish governments will ease their lockdown measures and allow dealerships or other non-essential retail outlets to open.
*●* *Renault* isn't waiting for a new scrappage scheme to offer incentives to potential electrified car buyers: it has launched a Switch incentive that offers discounts of £500 to buyers of a Clio hybrid or Kaptur plug-in hybrid, and £1000 for buyers of the electric Zoe. The firm is also offering a free wallbox charger to Zoe buyers.
*Friday 5 June: SMMT responds to automotive job cuts; Germany pushes electric vehicles in economic stimulus package*
*●* The chief executive of the *Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) *has called on the government to "double down" on efforts to help the industry recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, following the announcments that more than 2500 jobs could be cut at Bentley, Aston Martin and McLaren Group (see stories below). Leading dealership group Lookers will also cut up to 1500 jobs.
Mike Hawes called the job cuts "devastating", adding: "Whilst the industry is fundamentally strong and agile, it is not invincible. Global industries are challenged and we need to ensure the UK has in place a comprehensive strategy to support the sector and the highly skilled workforce on whom it depends. As the sector strives to weather the worst storm in a generation, measures to drive cash flow, stimulate demand and, above all, maintain our competitiveness are essential.
"Governments must double down on efforts to reboot economies, protect jobs and, internationally, work urgently to secure ambitious free trade agreements which avoid tariffs that add onerous cost and stifle global growth.”
*● *The *German government *has introduced a number of incentives to boost the uptake of electric cars as part of a €130 billion (£115 billion) coronavirus economic stimulus package. Measures include doubling subsidies offered on new electric cars, lowering VAT from 19% to 16%, and an overhaul of vehicle tax that will increase charges for vehicles that emit more than 95g/km of CO2.
Electric cars that cost below €40,000 (£35,500) will attract a €6000 (£5300) incentive. When added to a €3000 (£2600) manufacturer stipend, it the discount offered for EVs to €9000 (£8000). In addition, fuel stations in Germany will be required to provide electric vehicle charging points.
Several major German car firms have been pushing for the introduction of incentives to boost car sales to help them recover from the coronavirus crisis. But with electric cars accounting for less than 2% of the new car market in 2019, the focus on EVs has been met with scorn. In a statement the German car industry association, the VDA, said: "The VDA regrets that the stimulus plan only partially included the auto industry’s proposals for a broad and immediate economic impulse."
*●* *Bentley *is the latest British car manufacturer to announce major job cuts in the wake of the coronavirus lockdown. The Crewe manufacturer is seeking to cut up to 1000 jobs as part of a major restructuring plan. It is initially seeking voluntary redundancies. Read the full story here.
*Thursday 4 June: lockdown continues to hurt UK car sales, Aston Martin and major dealership ground announce job cuts*
*● UK new car sales* fell by 89% year-on-year in May, according to data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). While the figures are bleak, they are a considerable improvement on April, aided by the government allowing 'click-and-collect' online car sales in the second part of the month. Read the full story here.
*● **Aston Martin* is planning to cut 500 jobs as part of a raft of cost saving measures that will include reduced output on its sports car lines. The British firm recently announced heavy losses due to coronavirus disruption. Read the full story here.
*● *Car dealership group *Lookers* will cut up to 1500 jobs with the closure of 12 sites, a move that chief executive Mark Raban said was to "position the business for a sustainable future". Like all dealership groups, Lookers has been badly hit by the closure of showrooms due to the lockdown. The firm announced last November that it would close 15 dealerships. It currently employs 8000 staff, and the announced closures will leave it with 136 dealerships across the UK.
*● **Rally New Zealand*, which was due to be the next round of this year's World Rally Championship on 3-6 September, has been cancelled. The announcement came the day after Rally Finland was also cancelled. The next scheduled event is Rally Turkey on 24-27 September.
*Wednesday 3 June: LEVC to resume electric taxi production; Volvo's encouraging sales signals; Beaulieu to reopen... although not the museum*
*● *London taxi manufacturer *LEVC*, will begin a phased return to production at its Coventry factory starting from Monday 8 June. The Geely-owned firm, which produced more than 100,000 marks for local NHS hospitals during lockdown, has introduced more than 100 coronavirus-related safety measures to protect start working on its electric TX taxi and VN5 electric vans.
*● *The *PSA Group, *which comprises Citroën, DS, Peugeot and Vauxhall/Opel, has donated more than 50,000 protective face masks to the NHS. The PPE is being given to hospitals and care homes close to the firm's Luton and Ellesmere Port plants and Coventry offices.
*● Volvo *has released its global sales figures for May, which show some encouraging trends that the industry can recover from the impact of Covid-19. The firm sold 44,830 cars in May, and while that was down 25.5 per cent year-on-year, the decline was substantially reduced from April's 43.8 per cent decline.
The firm's sales were down 49.6% year-on-year in Europe, a strong recovery from April as certain countries began to ease lockdown restrictions. In the US Volvo's were only down 2.5% year-on-year, while in China – which has already lifted lockdown restrictions – sales actually role 21.8% compared to May 2019.
*● Rally Finland, *one of the marquee rounds of the World Rally Championship, has been cancelled for 2020. The organisers took the decision to can the rally, due to run on 6-9 August, because of uncertainty over whether travel restrictions would be eased for visitors to enter Finland in the coming months.
WRC organisers are still working on plans for the 2020 season, but the nature of rallies that run over multiple stage across large regions, makes that far more complicated than a circuit race where access can be tightly controlled. The Portuguese and Safari rallies have also been cancelled for 2020, and there are serious doubts over the events in New Zealand – the next secheduled event on the calendar on Septembr 3-6 and Japan.
*● Beaulieu, *which is home to the National Motor Museum, will begin to open its ground from Saturday 6 June. 500 visitors a day will be allowed to tour the grounds of the stateley home – although the motor museum itself will remain closed under current government restrictions.
*Tuesday 2 June: F1 bosses reveal first eight 2020 races; Coronavirus and the UK car industry special report*
*● Formula 1* chiefs have released the calendar for the first eight rounds of the scheduled 2020 season, including a pair of races at Silverstone: the British Grand Prix and the one-off Formula 1 70th Anniversary Grand Prix. Neither event will be open to spectators. Read the full story here.
*● *How will the *UK car industry* be impacted by the coronavirus pandemic in the future? Autocar has been investigating for a huge special report that will run on autocar.co.uk across the coming weeks. It will look at the challenges for making and selling cars in Britain, both in the immediate aftermath of the lockdown and the longer-term, investigate which firms will survive, whether sales will recover and the global trends shaping the UK market. Read the first part here.
*Monday 1 June: Car showrooms in England re-open, F1 secures quarantine exemption from British government*
*● Car showrooms* in England are allowed to open for the first time since mid-March today, after the UK government eased the lockdown restrictions on a number of 'non-essential' retail units. All dealerships are required to put a number of Covid-19 health and safety measures in place. Read the full story here.
*● *The UK government has agreed exemptions to its planned quarantine on all arrivals from outside the UK for *Formula 1** *teams and officials, ensuring that Silverstone will be able to host two races in July and August (see Saturday 30 May). According to reports, professional sports teams will be exempt from the quarantine, but must submit detailed movement plans for all members for approval by the government. They will also be required to stay in a 'safe environment' and have minimal contact with others.
*Saturday 30 May: Formula 1 and other competitive sport cleared to return in UK*
*● Formula 1* has been given the go-ahead to stage races at Silverstone, with the UK government approving the return of professional competitive sport. Events can run without spectators behind closed doors from 1 June. Culture secretary Oliver Dowden said: "Football, tennis, horse racing, Formula 1, cricket, golf, rugby, snooker and others are all set to return to our screens shortly."
While the decision clears the way for the British GP to run, there is still no official word on whether F1 team members will be exampt from the planned 14-day quarantine period when entering the UK - which could prevent the races going ahead.
Silverstone has been pencilled in to host two races as part of the rescheduled 2020 season, although the events are now set to take place in late July and early August, a few weeks later than originally planned. Meanwhile, the Austrian government has reportedly approved plans to host two F1 races at the Red Bull Ring on 5 and 12 July. The double-header will start the delayed 2020 season, with F1 bosses currently working to finalise a calendar.
The UK government approval for competitive sport is also good news for UK motorsport series such as the* British Touring Car Championship*, which is scheduled to start its delayed 2020 season in August.
*Friday 29 May: Northern Irish dealerships set for 8 June opening, UK car manufacturing plummets*
*● Car dealershi**ps* *in Northern Ireland* will be allowed to open from 8 June onwards, the country's devolved government has confirmed. New and used car retailers are among 'large non-food retailers' allowed to operate from that date, provided new Covid-19 health and safety steps are in place. They will follow dealerships in England, which are able to open from 1 June onwards.
Sue Robinson, the direction of the National Franchised Dealer Association, said: “The franchised retail automotive sector accounts for well over 11,000 jobs in Northern Ireland. It is important that dealerships reopen to safeguard the people employed and serve all those that need cars to travel to work."
There is no date yet for when dealerships in Wales and Scotland will be allowed to open. The Welsh First Minister has said he hopes to allow 'non-essential' shops to oopen around 19 June.
*● UK car manufacturing* fell by 99.7% in April due to the virtual shutdown of the country's car plants caused by coronavirus lockdown measures. Just 197 cars were built during the month, virtually all of which were premium or luxury machines that had been assembled prior to the lockdown. Read the full story here.
*Thursday 28 May: Ford's hot pursuit car, firms preparing to reopen UK showrooms, 2020 Dutch GP canned, F1 approves major cost-cutting measures*
*● Ford *is introducing a software update for its Police Interceptor Utility models in the USA that can temporarily raise the temperature of the car's cabin to more than 56C for 15 minutes to help reduce the risk of coronavirus infection. The update is available for all of the machines built for law enforcement officials between 2013 and 2019, and was developed with the help of The Ohio State University.
Research suggests that exposing coronavirus to temperatures of 56C – hotter than Death Valley – for 15 minutes or more can reduce the viral concentration on interior surfaces by around 99 per cent. The new system is designed to be used alongside increased cleaning efforts.
*● Kia *has said that all its English showrooms, service centres and MOT centres will open on 1 June, when they are allowed to do so by the government. All dealerships have introduced new health and safety measures in line with UK government requirements.
*● Seat *says it will begin a 'phased' opening of its English showrooms from 1 June onwards. As well as introducing the government's required health and safety measures, Seat is also offering new and returning customers the chance to book appointments in order to limit the number of customers on site. Seat will also continue to offer its Live Showcase 'virtual' vehicle tour service, along with enhanced online services and 'click-and-collect' car handovers.
*● *The *Dutch Grand Prix, *which was originally due to be held in April, has been officially cancelled for the 2020 season. The Zandvoort race would have been F1's return to Max Verstappen's homeland for the first time since 1985, and organisers have said they would rather wait until 2021 than stage an event without fans present. Anyone who bought a ticket for the 2020 race can either attend next year, or have a refund.
*●* *Formula 1 bosses *have officially approved major changes to the sport's technical regulations, including the introduction of a tought new cost cap. F1 teams will now be limited to spending $145 million (£116 million) in 2021, $140m (£112m) in 2022 and $135m (£109m) in each of 2023-2025 under the new cost cap, which has been tightened up to help reduce costs following the coronavirus crisis. Several exclusions to the rules will apply.
The rule changes approved by the FIA World Motor Sport Council to help cut immediate costs also include freezing development of a large number of components including chassis and gearbox until the end of 2021 and limits to powertrain upgrades. The new budget cap was cited by McLaren Group as a contributing factor to its decison to cut a substantial number of jobs in its F1 team recently.
*Wednesday 27 May: Motorsport UK's plan to restart, French government considers massive car industry bailout*
*● Motorsport UK* is aiming to allow motorsport events to run from 4 July onwards. The sanctioning body suspended all event permits in mid-March due to Covid-19, but will now start to process new permit applications from 1 June onwards. The number of event permits will be limited, and will not be open to spectators, while organisers will need to meet several new coronavirus-related health and safety criteria.
*● *The *Renault-Nissan-Mutsubishi Allaiance *has announced a major restructuring of the agreement between the three car firms, with each focusing on key regions and technologies. The moves come as both Nissan and Renault are set to post heavy losses, in part due to the coronavirus outbreak. Read the full story here.
*● *The *French government *has pledged €8 billion (£7.1 billion) to help the country's automotive industry recover from the coronavirus crisis, including the introduction of €7000 (£6230) grants for electric car buyers. Read the full story here.
*Tuesday 26 May: McLaren custs 1200 staff, British GP chiefs hopeful despite quarantine rules, English dealerships to re-open on 1 June *
*● *The *McLaren Group *will cut around 1200 staff across its automotive, racing and technology divisions, as part of a major restructure due to the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Read the full story here.
*● *The chances of Silverstone staging a pair of *Formula 1 *races, including the British Grand Prix, have been boosted, with reports that Prime Minister Boris Johnson is keen to introduce an exemption to the UK's new quarantine rules to allow the event to go ahead. The government will shortly introduce a mandatory 14-day quarantine period for all overseas arrivals into the country, which could prevent teams from being able to attend Silverstone. The circuit is due to host a pair of races in mid-July, with the first just seven days after the season of two events at the Red Bull Ring in Austria.
The Times has now reported that Johnson raised the issue at a cabinet meeting last week, and is keen to create an exemption to allow sporting events such as the grand prix to go ahead. F1 bosses have talked to officials at Germany's Hockenheim circuit about potentially holding races in place of Silverstone.
*● Car dealerships *in England will be able to re-open on 1 June, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced. All dealerships will need to introduce a number of social distancing and safety measures before customers are allowed to visit. Read the full story here.
*● *This year's* Silverstone Classic *motoring festival has been cancelled due to the coronavirus crisis. The three-day classic race meeting had been due to run on 31 July-2 August, and would have been the event's 30th anniversary. Organisers said that holding the meeting with social distancing measures in place would have been "a huge challenge" due to the large number of competitors, and that it wasn't viable to run behind closed doors. Around 100,000 spectators usually attend the event, which organisers have vowed will return in 2021.
*Monday 25 May: Jaguar Land Rover seeking government loan*
*● Jaguar Land Rover *is said to be seeking a substantial government loan to support it as the effect of the coronavirus pandemic continues to impact the automotive industry.
First reported by Sky News, Britain's biggest car maker is said to be asking the Treasury for temporary state funding of over £1bn. JLR has refused to confirm reports beyond stating it is "constantly in discussion with the government on a number of matters", but a spokesperson called suggestions that the loan amount could be as high as £2bn as "inaccurate and speculative".
The company has furloughed around 18,000 of its 38,000 UK employees under the government's Job Retention Scheme. It does not qualify for the Treasury's Corporate Financing Facility, aimed at large businesses, because its credit rating is not strong enough.
JLR's most recent results, for the January to March period, claimed it had £3.6bn in cash and investments alongside an undrawn credit facility of £1.9bn. Credit rating agency Standard and Poor reckoned it has burned through £1bn a month during the crisis, while the initial spread of the virus across Asia saw sales drop by nearly a third between January and March.
*Friday 22 May: SMMT calls for dealerships to re-open to boost economy*
*●** **British car retailers* are “ready to get back to business” and end the £61 million daily cost to the Treasury of keeping dealerships closed, says the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).
The UK industry body claims the daily cost is through lost tax income, with automotive retail contributing £36bn a year to the Treasury, and the cost of furloughing the retail sector’s 590,000 employees. It calls for the country’s 4,900-strong network of new car showrooms to be reopened “as a matter of urgency” to allow the market to restart and provide a boost to the economy.
SMMT chief Mike Hawes said “Government measures to support the critical automotive industry during the crisis have provided an essential lifeline, and the sector is now ready to return to work to help the UK rebuild.
“Car showrooms, just like garden centres, are spacious and can accommodate social distancing easily, making them some of the UK’s safest retail premises. Allowing dealers to get back to business will help stimulate consumer confidence and unlock recovery of the wider industry, boosting tax revenue and reducing the burden on government spending”
Earlier this month the British government tentatively gave a date of 1 June for showrooms to re-open as part of the next phase of easing lockdown restrictions. However, this has yet to be confirmed, and depends on the progress of the pandemic.
The SMMT has partnered with the National Franchised Retailers Association (NFDA) to publish best practice guidance for showrooms to ensure social distancing and a safe buying process.
*Thursday 21 May: Jaguar Land Rover completes first models under new social distancing measures, PSA Group launches new anti-bac air con service*
*●** Jaguar Land Rover *yesterday completed production of the first Range Rover made under new social distancing measures at its Solihull factory. As with other cars firms, the British manufacturer has introduced a range of safety measures for production staff to prevent the spread of Covid-19, including social distancing, hygiene and health monitoring and the use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) where appropriate.
JLR's factories in Graz, Austria and Nitra, Slovakia also resumed production this week, with the Halewood plant due to resume on 8 June. The firm has resumed "small pockets of business critical activity" at Castle Bromwich in preparation for new model year launches.
*●* The PSA Group, which owns *Citroën*, *DS*, *Peugeot* and *Vauxhall*, has introduced a new 'Complete Anti-Bacterial Refresh' service. The £99 service includes a comprehensive cleaning of a car's air conditioning system, replacement of the car's pollen filers, internal and external disinfection of the vehicle and a 29-point inspection of key parts.
*Wednesday 20 May: Fresh doubts for British Grand Prix*
*●* *Formula 1 *bosses have said that plans to host a pair of races at Silverstone in July will be abandoned unless the UK government grants F1 personnel an exemption from a planned 14-day quarantine restriction for anyone entering the country. The Northamptonshire circuit, the long-time host of the British Grand Prix, has agreed to hold two races as part of the rescheduled 2020 calendar, but the first is due to take place a week after the second of two races at the Red Bull Ring in Austria.
Bosses of Hockenheim Circuit in Germany, which was not originally on the 2020 schedule, have confirmed they are in talks with F1 officials about hosting two races in place of Silverstone.
*Tuesday 19 May: Record fall for European car sales, Ferrari museums reopen in Italy, Motorsport UK sets out guidelines for sport to resume*
*●* *New car sales *in the European Union fell by 76.3% year-on-year in April, the biggest drop since records began, according to data from the European Automobile Manufacturers Association (ACEA). With lockdowns in effect across most of the EU's 27 member states (which no longer includes the UK) just 270,682 cars were sold, compared to 1,143,046 in April last year. In total, car sales in 2020 are down 38.5% across the EU in the first four months of the year compared to 2019. Italy and Spain were the worst-hit EU countries, with tighter lockdowns in both prompting sales to fall by 97.6% and 96.5% respectively. Sales in France fell 88.8%, with Germany down 61.1%.
Across Europe, which includes the EU, UK and countries in the European Free Trade Area (EFTA), sales totalled 292,182 in April, down 78.3% year-on-year. The 3,008,426 cars sold in the region so far in 2020 is down 39.9% year-on-year. In the UK, which is no longer part of the EU, sales fell by 97.3% in April.
Jaguar Land Rover was the worst-hit car firm across Europe (the EU, UK and EFTA) in April, with its 1852 models sold an 88.6% drop on 2019. Honda's sales were down 88.5% year-on year, to 1067 cars. The FCA Group, whose firms include Alfa Romeo, Fiat and Jeep, sold 10,952 cars, a fall of 87.7%. Other major European firms also posted sharp losses, with the PSA Group down 82.4%, Daimler down 80.1%, Group Renault down 79.5%, the VW Group down 75% and the BMW Group down 69.7%.
*● **Ferrari* has reopened its museums in Maranello and Modena, in line with Italian government advice. Various safety measures, including temperature checks, will be in place, with entry numbers limited. Time slots can be booked in advance. Ferrari has also given healthcare workers free access to the museums for the remainder of 2020, with discounts for their family.
*● **British motorsport *bosses have outlined plans for the phase restart of the sport in the UK. Motorsport UK has suspended all event permits until at least 30 June, but has proposed a series of measures to allow the sport to resume in line with government rules. Among the measures, competitors, crews and other attending events will be required to complete pre-event declarations that they are free of Covid-19 symptoms, and team personnel will be required to wear PPE.
The measures will allow most forms of motorsport to resume, although they will not include categories with more than one person in the car at any time. As a result, the only rallies initially permitted to take place will be 'single-venue' time trial-style events, with drivers competing without a navigator.
*Monday 18 May: Ford resumes UK engine production*
*● **Ford* has resumed production at its UK engine plants in Dagenham and Bridgend, with new social distancing and safety measures in place. Everyone on the site will be required to wear a Ford-supplied face mask, with plastic face shields used in certain manufacturing areas where social distancing cannot be maintained. Everyone on site will also be required to undergo temperature checks, and be provided with a personal 'care kit'.
*Friday 15 May: Bentley set to expand production plans, England road upgrades, London Congestion Charge increase, major motorsport set to resume*
*● **McLaren* is considering mortgaging its Woking factory and collection of historic racing cars in a bid to raise cash, according to reports. Sources told Sky News that McLaren Group – which encompasses both the road car division and Formula 1 team – was considering the plan in a bid to raise up to £275 million to help cashflow during the coronavirus pandemic. A request for a £150 million loan from the government was recently rejected, according to reports.
In a statement, a McLaren spokesperson said: “Like many other British businesses McLaren has been severely affected by the current pandemic and we are therefore exploring a variety of different funding options to help navigate these short-term business interruptions.
*● **Bentley* has published its Covid-19 risk assessment, as it prepares to further ramp up production at its Crewe factory. The British firm resume production this week, with more than 1700 staff working on the Bentayga and Mulsanne production lines. Bentley will restart the Continental GT and Flying Spur lines next week, with all of its lines initially running at around 50 per cent capacity.
All companies with more than 50 employees are now required to conduct an online Covid-19 risk assessment from the Health and Safety Executive, and to display the resulting certificate. Bentley says it has introduced 250 new health and safety measures to protect workers.
*● **Honda* is set to resume production at its Swindon factory in June, with new safety measures in place. The Honda Civic is currently produced at the plant, which is due to close in July 2021.
*● **Silverstone* has agreed a deal to host two *Formula 1* races behind closed doors – if UK government restrictions allow. The home of the British Grand Prix was part of initial plans by F1 bosses to restart the season in July, but there have been reports of a dispute over the finances of hosting events without fans.
The 2020 season is now due to start with back-to-back races at the Red Bull Ring in Austria, followed by back-to-back races at Silverstone. But plenty of questions remain, including whether UK restrictions will be in place. The plans could also require F1 to receive dispensation for team members to avoid a 14-day lockdown period when travelling from Austria to the UK.
F1 bosses are still working on a 15 to 18 race calendar, with Hockenheim in Germany and Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium both in line to host races.
*● *If you can't wait until July for your fix of major motorsport events, the *NASCAR Cup Series* is due to resume in the USA this weekend. The stock car series will kick off with races at Darlington in South Carolina on Sunday and next Wednesday, following by races at Charlotte Motor Speedway on 24 and 27 May.
The circuits were chosen because they are located near Charlotte, North Carolina, where the vast majority of NASCAR teams are based, reducing travel times. Both are in states that have also loosened lockdown restrictions. Teams will only be allowed to bring limited staff members to each event, and no practice will be held to reduce time at the venue and any risks.
*● Motorsport Vision *will resume trackdays and testing at Brands Hatch, Donington Park, Oulton Park, Snetterton, Cadwell Park and Bedford Autodrome from Monday 18 May onwards. The circuits will initially open to professional teams for semi-exclusive testing, with track days set to resume from 26 May, with new Covid-19 safety measures and guidance in place.
*● *Transport secretary Grant Shapps has said the government is using the reduction in traffic during the lockdown to accelerate *major infrastructure projects* on England's roads. He also laid out further details of plans to boost the nation's EV charging infrastructure. Read the full story here.
*● *The *London Congestion Charge *will come back into force on Monday, having been suspended for the duration of the lockdown – and the price will rise. Read the full story here.
*Thursday 14 May: McLaren and Morgan staff return to factory, Ford's new production line, Ferrari F1 team's ventilator*
*● **McLaren* has confirmed that it has begun a phased resumption of production at its Woking plant, initially on its range-topping Ultimate Series line.
In a statement, the firm said: "While vehicle production was suspended in March due to the pandemic, a small team has been supporting efforts to provide much-needed ventilator equipment to the NHS. This vital work has been carried out with stringent health and safety measures in place to protect our key workers and many of those learnings have helped us to recommence limited activity on our Ultimate Series line with a view to gradually ramping-up production.”
*● **Morgan* has also resumed limited production at its factory. Around 20 staff returned to work on Monday 12 May, with their initial aim to finish vehicles in the second half of production.
The firm added: "This very small scale reintroduction provides us a good opportunity to prove some of the new social distancing measures we have put in place throughout the factory alongside government guidelines. The welfare of our employees and compliance with social distancing measures remains the number one priority when we’re considering any of our business operations. We will reintroduce more staff back to the factory only when we feel it is safe to do so."
*● **Ford* has converted an empty warehouse at its Dagenham plant into a temporary production facility for ventilators to help treat coronavirus patients. The car giant is producing 15,000 Penlon Prima ES02 ventilators as part of the VentilatorChallenge UK consortium, and created the new production facility in three weeks. Ford estimates it would usually take a year to construct a production line. When full production is reached, more than 650 people will work in three shifts on the line.
Ford will resume engine production at Dagenham on 18 May (see below), although the ventilator production area will be kept separate from the car facilities.
*● *The* Scuderia Ferrari *Formula 1 team has partnered with the Italian Institute of Technology (IIT) to develop a ventilator to help hospitals treat Covid-19 patients. The team says the new device uses easily available materials, with the design published on an open source platform so that anyone can produce it. The ventilator even has its own F1 chassis-style codename: FI5, representing the initials of Ferrari and the IIT and the number of weeks it took to design and produce the first prototype.
The FI5 is one of a number of joint projects between Ferrari and the IIT, with the supercar firm backing healthcare projects in the Modena region, producing respirators and protective mask parts.
*Wednesday 13 May: Car dealers given guidance for reopening, Aston Martin losses increase, Volkswagen suspends production due to low demand*
*● *New industry guidance on the safe reopening of *car showrooms* has been published by the National Franchised Dealers Association (NFDA) and Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). The best-practice guidance covers the whole customer journey, including booking appointments, showroom visits, test drives, 'click-and-collect' services, part-exchanges and after sales. It includes advice on staff training, signage, sanitation measures and the use of personal protective equipment (PPE).
While car dealers will be unable to open showrooms until 1 June at the earliest, those based in England will be allowed to conduct 'click-and-collect' deliveries for models ordered online or over the phone, according to the latest UK government guidelines. Read the full story here.
*● **Vauxhall* will being a "gradual and secured" resumption of production at its Luton van plant on Monday 18 May, following the implementation of "reinforced health protocols" developed by the PSA Group. The measures include temperature checks at the entrance to the facility, the provision of facemarks and sanitiser, social distancing protocols and enhanced tool cleaning measures. Yann Vincent, PSA's manufacturing chief, said that protecting the health of employees and commercial demand "will guide our decisions" on the resumption of production at its plants.
*● **Ford* will resume production at its UK plants in Dagenham and Bridgend on 18 May. With the firm's engine plant in Valencia, Spain due to open next week, the opening of the two UK factories will mean all of Ford's European sites will be operational. The firm will provide all employees with facemasks and equipment in a special care kit, and check the temperature of all staff on arrival.
The firm will also continue to produce ventilators through its role in the VentilatorChallenge UK consortium.
*● **Volkswagen* has paused production of the seventh and eigth generation Golf, Tiguan and Seat Tarraco at its Wolfsburg factory due to a lack of demand for new cars in Europe, according to The Financial Times. The newspaper cites an interview by VW manager Arne Meiswinkel with an internal publication saying the firm had to “align production to the expected market fluctuations”.
Production resumed at Wolfsburg in recent weeks with a limited number of staff following new health protocols, but with most dealerships in Europe still shut, sales and deliveries of new cars on the continent have virtually dried up.
*● **Aston Martin *Lagonda Ltd posted losses of nearly £119 million in the first three months of 2019 due to the onset of the Covid-19 crisis. But the firm says that deliveries of the DBX SUV are on track to begin this summer, with its St Athan facility now operational again. Read the full story here.
*● **Tesla* has been given permission by local authorities to resume production at its Fremont, California plant next week. The firm has sued Alameda County after it refused to give it permission to resume operations, and began to open the plant earlier this week.
In a statement, the Alameda County Public Health Department said that it had received an updated safety plan from Tesla, and said that: "If Tesla's Prevention and Control Plan includes these updates, and the public health indicators remain stable or improve" the firm can resume minimum operations this week, and resume car production next week.
County officials said they would work with the Fremont Police Department "to verify Tesla is adhering to physical distancing and that agreed upon health and safety measures are in place for the safety of their workers."
The extraordinary dispute between Tesla and Alameda County was joined earlier yesterday by US President Donald Trump, who tweeted: "California should let Tesla and Elon Musk open the plant, NOW. It can be done Fast and Safely!"
*Tuesday 12 May: Toyota expects sharp falls in profits, UK government sets guidelines for shops to open; Tesla opens California factory despite local orders*
*● **Toyota* expects its profits to fall by 80 per cent this year as demand for new cars is hit by the coronavirus outbreak. The firm made 2.4 trillion yen (£18.4 billion) in the financial year that ended in March, with the 8,958,000 cars it sold down just 0.8% on 2019.
With worldwide lockdown measures in place for April and the impact of Covid-19 likely to be felt long-term, Toyota is expecting car sales to fall by 1.95 million in the financial year that ends in March 2021, with profits falling to 500 billion yen (£3.8 billion).
Speaking at the firm’s annual results presentation, company boss Akio Toyoda said the Covid-19 pandemic “has dealt us a bigger shock than the 2008 global financial crisis.”
Toyoda added that making PPE and ventilators to support medical services in Japan demonstrated Toyota’s determination to help society overcome the virus. He added: “There is no crisis that humankind cannot overcome. For us to overcome the Covid-19 crisis together, Toyota is ready to do whatever it can to make itself of use.”
*● *The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has published guidance for how businesses can safely resume work during the coronavirus outbreak. The measures include guidelines that shops – including *car showrooms* – will be required to follow when they are allowed to open. At present, non-essential shops will open in "phases" from 1 June onwards, with car firms expecting to be told of a clearer timeline today.
Before shops can open they will need to have performed an online Health and Safety Executive (HSE) risk assessment and inspection - with random spot checks in the future to ensure they comply. Shops must also follow a series a number of health and safety measures, including the provision of cleaning, handwashing and hygiene procedures, the enforcement of two-metre social distancing where possible, and steps to mitigate any risk of transmission as much as possible.
*● **Tesla* has reopened its Fremont, California factory - in defiance of local regulations. While the state has eased its stay-at-home restrictions to allow manufacturing to resume, officials in Alameda County, where the plant is located, have so far not given permission for it to reopen. That prompted Tesla to file a lawsuit against county officials over the weekend.
Staff have now return to work at the site, with production resuming yesterday (Monday). On Twitter, company boss Elon Musk said: "Tesla is restarting production today against Alameda County rules. I will be on the line with everyone else. If anyone is arrested, I ask that it only be me." Read the full story here.
*● **McLaren* has reopened its factory in Woking, but company boss Mike Flewitt has said that it won't reach previous levels of activity until July. Speaking in an online Financial Times Global Boardroom interview, Flewitt said that 90 of the firm's more than 200 suppliers were forced to close due to coronavirua lockdowns, but all were now preparing to reopen. He added that new social distancing measures meant the plant can't run at "peak" capacity.
Speaking about sales, Flewitt said he expects "a good proportion of demand" to return "very quickly" when showrooms can reopen, but expected it would take a couple of years to return to 2019 levels.
*Monday 11 May: Ferrari back to full production, Tesla in legal row over plant reopening plans*
*● UK car dealerships* are unlikely to reopen until 1 June at the earliest following new government guideance on coronavirus restrictions. All non-essential shops and businesses, including dealerships, have been forced to close retail sites since late March as part of lockdown measures to slow the spread of Covid-19.
There had been hopes that Prime Minister Boris Johnson would allow car dealers and some other retail businesses to reopen with social distancing measures in place. But a guidance document entitled 'Staying alert and safe' that has been published by the government today make no mention of car dealerships, with only garden centres (from Wednesday onwards) added to the list of retailers now allowed to open.
The government has said that "the intention" is for non-essential retail businesses to begin opening "in phases from 1 June", and says it will shortly issue guidance on which businesses will be involved in those phases, and the likely timelines.
While dealerships will seemingly not be able to open showrooms until then, they are currently able to sell cars either online or over the phone, and arrange remote deliveries. It is understood that more 'sector specific' guidance will follow in the coming days, which should provide some clarity.
The National Franchised Dealer Association told Autocar: "The NFDA is currently requesting further clarification from Government. We expect sector specific guidance to be published tomorrow, this is likely to provide us with a clearer picture of the next steps."
However, manufacturing firms in the UK – which will include car plants – are being encouraged to resume work, with the government saying that "sectors of the economy that are allowed to be open should be open." Rolls-Royce, Bentley, Aston Martin and Jaguar Land Rover are among the car firms to have already resumed limited production in line with the new 'Covid-19 secure guidelines' on health and safety.
*● Bentley* has restarted production in a limited capacity at its headquarters in Crewe, Cheshire. 1,700 employees are now at the site to start a "phased production ramp-up", which for now means running at 50% capacity with double 'takt time' (the time it takes cars to move from each manufacturing stage to the next).
The 50% capacity will run for 'a number of weeks', with the remaining 500 staff due to return in mid-June. Initially the Mulsanne and Bentayga lines will begin to roll, with Flying Spur and Continental GT lines restarting next week. The whole facility, including areas such as bathrooms, has been restructured around social distancing measures to ensure two-metre distancing between colleagues.
*● *The UK government has also made it easier for cities and other local authorities to close roads to cars in order to encourage cycling and walking. Read the full story on that here.
*● **Ferrari* says its Maranello and Modena factories have now returned to full production after the gradual reopening under its "Back on Track" programme. The first car to be finished on the Special Series production line was a black and grey Monza