Rene Hensler

Coronavirus is a car sales roller coaster with an uncertain end

With no handy playbook, no precedents for the toxic economic fallout from COVID-19, the only thing predictable about auto sales is now unpredictability. And with viral spikes forcing fresh public restrictions — including in California, the nation’s largest auto market — any automotive recovery seems likely to follow the same topsy-turvy course.

Analysts say the worst may be over. But they can’t be sure. The pandemic drove auto sales to a sickly, 30-year-low in April, as Americans bought just 633,000 cars — down 53% from April 2019, and worse than any sales month of the Great Recession in 2009. 

June brought a few rays of hope. But June’s annualized selling rate of 12.9 million units was still a stark reminder of the booming 17.2-million pace of the previous June. Second-quarter sales at General Motors, Ford and FiatChrysler fell 30% or more. Tesla’s mere 5% drop —and a stock

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Fiat Chrysler strikes deal with Waymo to step-up driverless car ambitions

Waymo - Heather Somerville /REUTERS
Waymo – Heather Somerville /REUTERS

Fiat Chrysler has signed an exclusive deal with Google sister company Waymo in a bid to step-up its driverless car ambitions.

The two companies have been working together since 2016 on self-driving technology for minivans, but announced on Wednesday a doubling-down on their partnership to apply autonomous software to Fiat’s entire fleet of vehicles. 

“Deepening our relationship with the very best technology partner in this space, we’re turning to the needs of our commercial customers by jointly enabling self-driving for light commercial vehicles,” said Mike Manley, Fiat Chrysler’s chief executive.

“Our partnership is setting the pace for the safe and sustainable mobility solutions that will help define the automotive world in the years and decades to come.”

Waymo, a unit of Google’s parent company Alphabet, has had close ties with Fiat Chrysler, which is currently in the midst of a $50bn merger with PSA, the

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1983 VW Rabbit GTI Was Worth the Wait

From the November 1982 issue of Car and Driver.

The automotive business may be topsy­-turvy these days, but there’s still no question about where the world’s best drivers’ cars come from. For sheer quantity, you can’t beat the Fatherland: Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, and VW turn out more great rides than the rest of the world’s carmakers combined. Even the Japanese still think German cars are magic—and they’re working furiously to close the gap.

So without further ado, allow us to introduce the latest autobahn panzer to grace our roads, the Volkswagen Rabbit GTI, from—wait a minute—Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania? That’s right. Volkswagen of America is now producing a home-grown version of the little hatchback we’ve been waiting for, the GTI—the perennial benchmark of high­-performance European econoboxes. Better still, it works so well, you’d swear it came from Wolfsburg.

If you find this leap of faith … Read More