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Automotive News Publisher Jason Stein Speaks with MICHauto Investors in Town Hall Meeting

MICHauto hosted a virtual town hall meeting with investors featuring guest speaker Jason Stein, publisher of Automotive News. Stein discussed the automotive industry’s economic outlook and global recovery amid the COVID-19 crisis with Detroit Regional Chamber President and CEO Sandy K. Baruah and MICHauto Executive Director Glenn Stevens Jr

OEMs were able to use countries like China hit with COVID-19 earlier as a playbook to prepare for the U.S. to do the same months later, explained Stein. Now that factories are beginning to reopen, Michigan is looking to other parts of the world that already went through this process to guide best practices. 

“Just this week, suppliers and automakers could consult a playbook that was formulated in other regions of the world,” said Stein.  

North America, while more of a patchwork of decision making with state and local governments when it came to their COVID-19 response, companies could implement those actions quickly. Aside from a couple of minor cases, the transition has for the most part been problem-free from a manufacturing standpoint, said Stein. 

While ridesharing and mobility as a service were gaining popularity before the pandemic hit, Stein said he predicts a return to the personal car – as it was 10 or 20 years ago. People are uncomfortable in enclosed spaces, with many reluctant to even step onto a plane. 

Stein noted that vehicle sales in May are already higher than anticipated. This demonstrates pent-up demand due to social distancing. Although, only a quarter of car buyers planning to purchase a vehicle before the pandemic hit are still planning to purchase immediately. Currently 15% have canceled their plans, and the rest are delaying indefinitely.  

If there is not a roaring comeback, the biggest threat is the prolonged effect of COVID-19.”