European car sales bottomed out last month as the automotive industry faces its worst crisis in decades. Strict lockdown measures to contain the coronavirus closed most dealerships across the continent for the full month of April amid a precipitous drop in consumer spending, causing sales to collapse by an unprecedented 76%, the ACEA car manufacturers' association said Tuesday.
More than 130,000 autoworkers returned to factories across the U.S. for the first time in nearly two months Monday in one of the biggest steps yet to restart American industry, while an experimental vaccine against the coronavirus yielded encouraging results in a small and extremely early test. Stocks rallied on the vaccine news and signs that the worst of the crisis has passed in many countries. The Dow Jones Industrial Average soared about 900 points, or nearly 4%.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk threatened Saturday to pull the company's factory and headquarters out of California and sued local officials who have stopped the company from reopening its electric vehicle factory. In a lawsuit filed in federal court, Tesla accused the Alameda County Health Department of overstepping federal and state coronavirus restrictions when it stopped Tesla from restarting production at its factory in Fremont.
European car sales tanked last month amid strict lockdown measures to contain the coronavirus that shut down dealerships for at least half of March and dried up consumer spending. The European carmaker's association, ACEA, said Friday that new car registrations ''recorded a dramatic drop'' of 55% to 567,308 units.
Concerns about the spreading coronavirus forced most of North America's auto plants to close, at least temporarily. Ford, General Motors, Fiat Chrysler, Honda, and Toyota said they would shut down all factories in the region, citing concerns for employees who work in close quarters building automobiles. Nissan will close U.S. factories. Hyundai shut down its Alabama plant after a worker tested positive for the virus.
Britain announced Tuesday that it plans to ban the sale of new gas and diesel cars by 2035 — five years earlier than its previous target — in a bid to speed up efforts to tackle climate change. The announcement was timed to coincide with the launch of Britain's plans for the United Nations' climate summit, known as COP26, which is scheduled to be held in Glasgow in November.
Eight months after it seemed headed for the corporate junkyard, Tesla is now worth more than General Motors, Ford and Fiat Chrysler combined, even though the Big Three together sell more cars and trucks in two weeks than Tesla does in a whole year. In a reversal of fortune analysts find amazing if not nutty, the stock of the electric vehicle and solar panel maker has rocketed to nearly $900, up over 30% in just the past two days.
If U.S. consumers ever ditch fuel burners for electric vehicles, then the United Auto Workers union is in trouble. Gone would be thousands of jobs at engine and transmission plants across the industrial Midwest, replaced by smaller workforces at squeaky-clean mostly automated factories that mix up chemicals to make batteries.
By the 2025 model year, nearly all new vehicles sold in the U.S. will come with electronic alerts to remind people to not leave children behind in the back seats. Twenty automakers representing 98% of new vehicles sold have agreed to install reminders in an effort to stop heatstroke deaths. So far this year 39 children have died in the U.S. after being left alone in cars during hot weather. The advocacy group Kids and Cars says a record 54 children were killed last year.
Lee Iacocca, the auto executive and master pitchman who put the Mustang in Ford's lineup in the 1960s and became a corporate folk hero when he resurrected Chrysler 20 years later, has died in Bel Air, California. He was 94.