While some companies in the automotive industry already had work-from-home policies in place prior to the COVID-19 crisis, others have been caught off-guard by the sudden influx of employees working remotely and handling sensitive data during the pandemic. “Working from home isn’t cultural when it comes to the auto sector,” Colin Dhillon, chief technical officer for the Automotive Parts Manufacturers’ Association, said in an April 15 webinar on cybersecurity for remote workers hosted by the APMA.
In the short term, cloud-based tools such as Slack, Zoom, and Google apps mean that controlling sensitive data is suddenly far more challenging than when its movement is contained within a company’s brick-and-mortar walls. “We say allow the users to use the apps they want, but we can prevent risky behaviour and start dictating behaviour on what you want the user to do in [each] specific application,” said Michael Micone, Netskope regional director for Canada.
According to cybersecurity experts, these are the questions that organizations without a remote working plan should address immediately:
How is your data moving?
“Data is king. That’s where all your trade secrets are,” says Micone, who recommends the approach of securing user workflow first and foremost. “We now need to make sure that we secure those users because the direct-to-cloud model is the way every organization in the world is going.”
Is security sufficient where you can control it?
In certain situations, such as logging into a server housing sensitive information, companies can do more to contain risks, according to AJ Khan, founder of cybersecurity consultancy Cloud-GRC. “Many organizations do not have multi-factor authentication for remote connectivity,” Khan said, referring to an extra level of identify verification such as sending a time-sensitive numeric code to a mobile phone.
Does your organization have an incident response plan?
Khan said that clear communication of who is responsible for responding to an incident – who should be C-Suite, not the IT department – is key both for speed and for clarity. “Let’s say there’s a breach. Does the employee know who to call?”
How aware are your employees of cybersecurity risk?
Ongoing training on how to identify phishing, ransomware, and other scams is critical while employees are working off-site. “There's got to be constant training,” Micone said. “These hackers will take advantage of the worst of times.”
Source: Automotive News Canada
Volkswagen says it intends to resume production April 20 at car plants in Zwickau, Germany; and Bratislava, Slovakia; followed April 27 by its U.S. factory and facilities in Portugal, Spain, Russia and elsewhere in Germany. While VW sets firm dates for reopening its plants, Nissan, Honda and Bentley extend production suspensions at factories in the U.S., Mexico and U.K., respectively, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Automakers are offering more deals to counter a downturn in sales brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, but most of those deals do not apply to hybrids, plug-in hybrids, and electric cars. Lots of deals are available for other kinds of vehicles, but oddly not for green cars—perhaps indicating that automakers finally grasp the idea that cheap gas won't change minds especially in the plug-in realm. Nissan, for example, is offering 0% APR financing for 84 months, but only on the Frontier and Titan pickup trucks.
In contrast, discounts for the Chevrolet Bolt EV are now less than the previous General Motors Supplier Pricing offer, which was quietly withdrawn for April. GM previously offered a lease deal that lopped $10,000 off the Bolt EV's $37,495 base price, but this was to compensate for the end of GM's EV tax credit, which disappeared April 1. GM was the second automaker, after to Tesla, to lose its tax credit, which begins to phase out when an automaker reaches 200,000 sales of qualifying vehicles.
A planned update of the Bolt EV has been delayed in part due to pandemic response.
GM is offering 0% APR financing and so-called "Sign & Drive" leases on other models, including the Chevy Equinox crossover and GMC Sierra pickup truck, but not the Bolt EV. Hyundai is offering the same financing terms, with the Kona Electric excluded.
Alternatively, the 2020 Hyundai Ioniq Electric is now the cheapest EV lease available. The hatchback can currently be leased for $209 a month for 36 months, with $2,199 due at signing, in New York, or $249 a month and $2,500 at signing in California. However, even those rates can't match a deal offered in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic markets in late 2019, when an Ioniq Electric could be leased for $79 a month. The current lease rates are before incentives. Hyundai hasn't lost its federal EV tax credit yet.
California recently tightened the rules for its green-car purchase rebate. The amount was lowered $500, to $2,000 for electric cars and $1,000 for plug-in hybrids—provided they meet a minimum mileage. The Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid misses that cut, and remains one of our favorite plug-in hybrids. The Pacifica Hybrid also qualifies for employee pricing, 0% APR financing for 60 months, and no payments for 90 days. That works out at an effective cost of $560 a month.
Finally, if electrification isn't a must, the 2020 Hyundai Elantra achieves up to 36 mpg combined, and is available to lease on the West Coast for around $200 a month. A redesigned 2021 Elantra was unveiled in March, with a first-ever hybrid powertrain option.
Source: Green Car Report & Bloomberg
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is tapping into more of its available credit as the global financial impact from the coronavirus spreads and puts pressure on companies to make sure they have plenty of funding. The company, in a news release Tuesday evening, said that "in light of the continuing uncertainty relating to the impacts of COVID-19, it has drawn down" a now-$6.8 billion (6.25 billion euros) revolving credit facility, which was originally signed in June 2015. That's in addition to $1.6 billion (1.5 billion euros) the company had already started to draw down.
Source: Detroit Free Press
Car-sharing service Zipcar says it will stop operations on May 1 in British Columbia.
In a statement, the Boston-based company says the “complexities” of operating in the province, including local insurance regulations, are behind its decision. The company says it had about 80 vehicles in the Vancouver and Victoria areas. It would not disclose the number of customers it has in the province.
Customers can still use their memberships in other locations, and the company says it will continue operating in cities across North America including the Toronto area, where it has about 500 vehicles.
Zipcar, which is owned by car rental company Avis Budget Group Inc., came to B.C. in 2007.
Share Now, formerly Car2Go, closed up shop in North America earlier this year. General Motors pulled the plug on its Maven program on Tuesday.
Source: The Canadian Press
Global light vehicle production is now expected to fall more than 20 per cent to around 71 million units in 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and ensuing recession, a top automotive forecaster said Monday. That steep decline, far greater than anticipated earlier this year, likely will cost global automakers 19 million units in lost production in 2020, according to LMC Automotive, which warned those projections could slip further, depending on how quickly major regions recover.
In North America, where most vehicle production remains shut down in April, automakers have been forced to delay introductions or planned ramp-ups of several new vehicles, including the Tesla Model Y, the Ford Mustang Mach-E, and redesigned versions of Fiat Chrysler's Jeep Grand Cherokee and General Motors' full-size SUVs, LMC said.
The analyst said it expects vehicle sales will bottom out in April in North America and Europe, with post-pandemic recovery "unlikely to be rapid" in the coming months. China, which was among the first countries hit by the novel coronavirus, already has restarted most of its auto plants and now expects to see a sales decline of just 12 per cent this year, LMC said.
Expectations for a swift economic recovery have plummeted as the virus has swept most of the globe, plunging all major regions into recession, according to researcher IHS Markit.
While the company expects to see the beginnings of an upturn by the end of the year, current projections "are likely to be revised down" as the pandemic plays out.
The globalization of the auto industry may have run its course as the COVID-19 pandemic takes a heavy toll on the car business around the world, according to a long-time industry analyst and executive. John Casesa, senior managing partner with Guggenheim Partners, says the deadly coronavirus has created unprecedented challenges for the auto industry that will require difficult choices and new approaches. Automakers have migrated toward the concept of a truly global industry for the past 30 years, Casesa says, noting mergers and alliances such as Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi were built on the need for a broad product portfolio that could be sold in all markets.
While still drastically low, U.S. auto sales have begun to recover a bit and should rebound even more, as car dealerships get better at selling cars remotely online, and as some states begin to relax restrictions on work and business, that have been aimed at containing the COVID-19 pandemic, according to two different reports on April 22.
Welcome to newly germophobic America, where people are avoiding other humans and anything they might have touched, including steering wheels, bus railings and car armrests. The precautions Rogers and others are taking are a glimmer of hope for carmakers and dealers who need depressed vehicle sales to bounce back. They also could prolong the crisis for the sharing economy by leaving public transit providers and companies including Uber Technologies Inc. and Lyft Inc. reeling from a long-lasting dearth of riders.
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