Big 3 Face Major Vehicle Launch Impacts from COVID-19
The Coronavirus has had a huge impact on most industries, although most as not seeing such trying times as much as auto manufacturers. Burning through millions of dollars in cash each day as production lines remain halted and most workers remain on leave, either with reduced pay or temporarily laid off, auto manufacturers remain pressed if production does not restart soon. Luckily, the big 3, General Motors, Ford, and Fiat Chrysler, are all in talks with the UAW to restart production and ensure new safety protocol for the safety of their workers. While it appears production will be restarting around May 18th at certain facilities, major vehicle launches have already been impacted from the Coronavirus Pandemic. Reveals have also been pushed off with the rescheduling of the New York Auto Show for late August and the cancelation of June’s Detroit Auto Show. Here are some of the major impacts the Big 3 are facing for their major new vehicle launches.
One of GM’s largest profit makers is its line of full size SUVs, including the Chevrolet Tahoe and Suburban, GMC Yukon, and Cadillac Escalade. All models were redesigned for the 2021 model year with Tahoe, Suburban, and Yukon set to begin production in April and Escalade in late summer. Due to the pandemic, retooling was pushed off at the company’s Arlington Texas plant. Production should start back up soon, so the models launch should only be impacted by about 1-2 months. Expect to see Tahoes, Suburbans, and Yukons on the road in the June/July timeframe and the new Escalade in late summer, probably in late August/September.
Unfortunately, many of GM’s model refreshes are pushed back a year to the 2022 model year. This includes the Chevrolet Traverse and Equinox and GMC Terrain. Perhaps more impactful is the refresh of the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra, which many consumers hope will receive an updated interior and dash layout to reflect the much better interiors featured on the 2021 Full Size SUVs.
Luckily for those excited about GM’s new EVs, there is no delay expected in their launches next year. The reveal of the GMC Hummer EV and Cadillac Lyriq have been postponed to an unannounced date, but they should still be on track for production targets. Same goes for the refreshed Chevy Bolt EUV crossover.
Ford has been hit hard, perhaps worse than GM and FCA, from the Pandemic, and 2 major vehicle launches have already been postponed. The new Bronco, which will be available as a body on frame 2 and 4 door model, and a smaller baby Bronco Sport Crossover did not get revealed in March and April as planned. Ford is yet to announce when these models will be revealed, and it is unknown when production will begin.
The same can be said about the new 2021 F150, which was initially expecting a reveal in late spring/early summer and a launch in the fall. Given the F150 is Ford’s best seller and provides the company with high profit margins, they will want this vehicle to help recover their recent losses. It can be expected they are working hard to keep this launch on track as best they can. We will see what they have so say about it when the vehicle is revealed, probably at some point this summer.
The Mustang Mach-E is still on track for its fall launch, as engineers continue working hard to complete its final testing. Unfortunately Lincoln, Ford’s Luxury brand, has cancelled a joint venture with Rivian for a future EV crossover, although there are still other EV models in the works.
Chrysler’s most profitable brand, behind its Ram Pickup trucks, is the Jeep brand. Long in its current cycle run, the Grand Cherokee is receiving a full redesign for the 2021 model year. The Wagoneer/ Grand Wagoneer is also making a return after nearly 30 years to take on the likes of GM and Ford’s full size SUVs. The Wagoneer is based off the Ram 1500 pickup truck chassis, so this model relaunch is a big deal for Chrysler if it is as well executed as their new pickup trucks.
Little news is known apart from the fact that Jeep representatives said production should be pushed off by about 3 months. It is still unclear exactly when these new models will be revealed and launched. Hopefully we will see these new vehicles on the road at some point in the first or second quarter of 2021. They will both provide Chrysler with high profit margins, so the launch of both of these models needs to be properly executed as quickly as possible.