Covid-19 impact on auto industry

Eric Lawrence

Auto industry experts predicted that the coronavirus outbreak would make parts needed for repairs more difficult to find.

That prediction has come to pass, according to two key industry spokesmen.

“We’re now seeing in dealer service centers a shortage of parts necessary to maintain and repair vehicles and, of course, at a point at which personal mobility is critically important, the ability to be able to do warranty work and complete recalls and service vehicles, is, in fact, essential, and the shutdown has definitely started to have an impact on the availability of those service parts,” said John Bozzella, president and CEO of the Alliance for Automotive Innovation.

Bozzella’s group represents companies including Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Ford Motor Co., General Motors, Toyota and Volkswagen.

Addressing media via a conference call a few months ago, Bozzella along with Bill Long, president and CEO of the Motor and Equipment Manufacturers Association, explained the expected restart of the auto industry as well as the shutdown’s impact on repair part availability.

Health and safety of the workforce are key concerns as the industry readies to restart, Bozzella and Long said, but they also emphasized the impact on parts availability for crucial activities because of the shutdown of vehicle and parts manufacturing tied to Covid-19. They also noted the need for coordination during the resumption of production because of the integrated nature of auto manufacturing, in order “to avoid a restart and a stop and a restart and a stop.”

Making sure parts are available is critical, Long said, to service not just emergency vehicles but also vehicles used to get health care workers to and from work.

“We have already recognised up until this period shortages in the supply chain to actually be able to repair vehicles through dealerships or repair facilities. So it certainly is of (a) critical nature. We have seen a number of examples with health providers that have needed critical repair parts or even vehicles that would enable them to continue to do what they do,” he said.

Long said the critical nature of repair parts also extends to those needed for commercial vehicles and heavy trucks.

“They supply the things we rely on, not just (Personal Protective Equipment) … but food and medicine and so forth,” said Long, who also highlighted the inclusion of automotive repair and maintenance in recent guidance on essential critical infrastructure from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

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