The spread of COVID-19 is affecting all areas of business, and the automotive market is no exception. Read on to see the efforts being made to help slow the spread of the virus and how auto makers are adapting.  

Bill Ford to defer salary amid coronavirus pandemic. 

Bill Ford, executive chairman of the Ford Motor Co., has announced he will defer 100% of his salary for the next five months to help with tight finances during the coronavirus outbreak. Other top company executives have also announced they will join in the cause by deferring up to half of their pay, effective May 1, 2020. Those who have committed to this sacrifice will receive their deferred salary amounts after the company has repaid $7 billion of its $15.4 billion credit lines taken out earlier this month.  

CEO Jim Hackett states: “The character of people and organizations is revealed in difficult times. I’m extremely proud of how Ford is keeping our people safe, doing our part to limit the spread of the virus, taking care of customers, and managing through the crisis in ways that safeguard our workforce, our business, and our partners.” 

Hackett confirms the company is doing all they can to get through the pandemic without cutting jobs. Ford will take measures such as suspending overtime, freezing hiring for non-essential positions, and deferring salary increases to help with these efforts. They have also promised to provide healthcare and paid time off to workers if they are exposed to the virus and require a leave to self-quarantine.  

Coronavirus exposes Uber, Lyft drivers’ lack of safety net in U.S. 

Lyft and Uber drivers are facing uncertain times during the coronavirus outbreak. According to Lyft, the vast majority of its drivers operate fewer than 10 hours a week and typically have another full or part-time job. With current U.S. labor law, their status as contract workers leaves them feeling under-protected compared to the average full-time employee.  

According to U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer’s spokesperson, a proposed federal coronavirus aid bill will work to reform unemployment insurance available to self-employed and gig workers. However, not all labor unions are in support of this bill’s offerings, and many are feeling the sharp decrease in demand (about a 70% drop in some cities). Many drivers are switching their focus to meet the change in consumer demands and have found a niche in food delivery while many Americans are stuck at home.  

Uber and Lyft both stated they have processes in place to fund drivers who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or are potentially exposed and stuck in quarantine. However, the process for distributing these funds appears to be slow, and drivers are now feeling a lack of support as both companies have closed their local driver hubs. This leaves drivers with nowhere to obtain company supplied hand sanitizer and disinfectants as they attempt to keep themselves safe and healthy.  

Kia may produce face masks at Yancheng factory to fight coronavirus. 

Kia Motors has announced they are considering shifting their production in the company’s Chinese factory to help produce face masks in the wave of COVID-19. Fiat Chrysler has already put these efforts in place in their Asia plant, and CEO Mike Manley said they aim to produce one million masks per month

Kia’s decision would come after the Chinese government encouraged the company to shift its focus to help in mask production, though leadership has yet to comment on a timeline for these efforts. They have shut down production in their U.S. plant in Georgia, as well as Slovakia and India in hopes to help slow the spread of the virus.