Car Reviews

Covid-19: Jaguar Land Rover deploy fleet for medical responders worldwide, research expertise from the UK

Jaguar Land Rover have collectively deployed more than 160 of its vehicles around the world in support of emergency response organisations handling the coronavirus situation.

In the United Kingdom, 57 vehicles, including 27 units of the new-generation Defender, have been issued to the British Red Cross for delivering food and medicine to people in the country deemed most vulnerable due to social distancing rules being enforced, the automaker said.

Teams across both Jaguar and Land Rover brands in Spain, France, South Africa and Australia have also loaned vehicles to Red Cross societies in their respective countries, with brand representatives in more markets also offering help to their local teams, the company said. The vehicles are readily available due to the postponement of launch events, the automaker added in its statement.

“The health and safety of our employees, customers and their families remains our priority. Jaguar and Land Rover will do everything we can to support people in need around the world. Our partnership with the Red Cross goes back 65 years, and we will work hand in hand with them to do all we can during this global health emergency. We will also provide help to those closer to home in our local communities,” said JLR customer experience director Finbar McFall.

Land Rover’s existing emergency relief efforts in partnership with the British Red Cross include funding of the Disaster Relief Alliance, which supports community resilience programmes in the United Kingdom and around the world, offering financial assistance in times of disaster such as the present coronavirus outbreak. The British Red Cross has provided £200,000 (RM1.07 million) to Asian countries severely affected by the pandemic, said Jaguar Land Rover.

GALLERY: 2020 Land Rover Defender

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Car Reviews

Car Rental Operators: Take the Coronavirus Survey

Image via Pixabay/Andreas Breitling.

To better understand the effects of the coronavirus or COVID-19 pandemic on the car rental industry, Auto Rental News is conducting a survey of franchised and independent (non-corporate) auto rental operations in the United States.

The data and an analysis will be published online by the end of next week. We ask that only non-corporate operators in the U.S. participate. The survey closes by end of day April 6.

This survey is completely anonymous and confidential and does not ask for company or personal names. The results will only be used in aggregate and will not be shared with any source.

Click here to begin the survey.

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Car Reviews

Federal Relief Is Coming for Car Rental

The loans designed for medium-sized business of 501 to 10,000 employees are part of a $465 billion fund that will be administered by the Federal Reserve and the Department of Treasury.

Photo via Depositphotos.

Financial relief is coming to individuals and businesses, including car rental companies, that have been negatively impacted by the coronavirus outbreak.  

During the Auto Rental News webinar “Car Rental and the Coronavirus Pandemic: A Global Check In” on March 31, Greg Scott, public affairs representative for the American Car Rental Association (ACRA), outlined the various mechanisms for aid. 

This information has been subsequently updated with new guidance from the federal government as of the afternoon of March 31.

Three pieces of U.S. federal legislation have been enacted to date. The first bill allocates about $8.3 billion to extend some unemployment benefits. The second, called The Family First Act, earmarks about $100 billion for sick leave and parental leave for those with the virus. 

The CARES Act, signed into law last Friday, is a $2.1 trillion financial assistance fund with a variety of mechanisms for individuals and businesses. The CARES Act divides companies by size: small, medium, and large. The full text of the bill can be viewed here.

Paycheck Protection

Under the CARES Act, the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) is administered by the Small Business Administration (SBA). It authorizes up to $349 billion for small businesses of 500 or fewer employees at the time of the loan application. Applications open on April 3. 

The SBA has created a web page with PPP information. 

The PPP provides small businesses with funds to pay up to eight weeks of payroll costs including benefits. Funds can also be used to pay interest on mortgages, rent, and utilities.

Small car rental companies might be familiar with the $38.5 million yearly revenue threshold to access SBA loans. For this purpose, the standard changes to 500 or fewer employees. Loans can be for up to two months of a company’s average monthly payroll costs from the last year plus an additional 25% of that amount, up to a maximum loan of $10 million.

“If you're interested in trying to access one of those loans, the best avenue is to talk to an FDIC-insured bank or savings and loan,” Scott said. 

These funds will be fully forgiven when used for payroll costs, interest on mortgages, rent, and utilities. However, forgiveness is based on the employer maintaining or quickly rehiring employees and maintaining salary levels. Forgiveness will be reduced if full-time headcount declines, or if salaries and wages decrease.

If companies can bring back or rehire 90% of their total employee count through Sept. 30 within four months of the declared end of the emergency, they can ask for the loan to be forgiven. “Think of it almost as a covenant in your loan,” Scott said in the webinar.

For small businesses, Scott has prepared a brief summary available on the ACRA website. 

Larger Businesses

The loans designed for medium-sized business of 501 to 10,000 employees are part of a $465 billion fund that will be administered by the Federal Reserve and the Department of Treasury. It is unclear at this point if banks or the Treasury itself will handle this middle tier of loan disbursement, Scott said. 

The final tranche, for companies with over 10,000 employees, also accesses this fund. There are stipulations to the funds, such as a prohibition on breaking union contracts or paying dividends during the period of the loans. 

“We're looking for guidance from the Small Business Administration and the Treasury Department and we should have (more information) by Friday of this week or Monday of next week. This is a statutory deadline,” Scott said during the webinar. 

Congress may not be done in its legislative response to the pandemic. Discussions have already started regarding a fourth COVID-19 bill, including provisions that could direct targeted aid to specific industries. 

Specific to car rental companies that owe minimum annual guarantees to airports, “We are working through ACRA with the Department of Transportation and the Federal Aviation Administration, and those conversations have been going very well,” Scott said. 

He expects ACRA to receive guidance from the DOT and FAA in the next week to 10 days. 

ACRA’s board of directors and legal and legislative committee are engaged in discussions regarding the association’s goals for this legislation and will be communicating those goals to Capitol Hill and the Trump Administration, Scott said.

ACRA will update its website as new information becomes available. 

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Auto News

Racing World Rushes to Contribute to Nationwide Effort to Combat COVID-19

The CORE autosport race team that competes in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship is helping in the COVID-19 battle by manufacturing face masks from its Rock Hill, South Carolina, race shop.

Team manager Morgan Brady says the team and workers at neighboring Composite Resources hope to turn out more than 1,000 face masks a day.

Composite Resources is the parent company to CORE autosport and makes items for defense and aerospace. The CORE race shop comprises three levels: The top level has always been dedicated to C-A-T (Combat Action Tourniquet) production. This is the production line now making face masks.

The masks are being made directly above where the No. 911 and No. 912 Porsche 911 RSR race cars are sitting quietly.

“(Team owner) Jon Bennett was just sitting at home watching the news like all of us and seeing this national face mask shortage,” Brady said. “We looked at each other and thought that there was something we had to do to help, and very quickly we came up with this concept and idea for producing face masks.

“There’s doctors and nurses and healthcare professionals out there that maybe have only a week or two worth of supply of face masks and then they’re going to be looking for more. And that’s where we come in with creating enough face masks that hopefully helps some of this shortage. We’re ramping up production this week, and the target is to be making thousands of face masks per day.”

The turnaround to mask production has been a quick one.

“It’s been a very rapid process from when we came up with the idea, going through prototyping, sourcing materials and launching production in less than 24 hours,” Brady said. “After that, we’ve been iterating and improving the masks as we go. As the word has gotten out about these face masks, the demand has been increasing every day, and we will continue to make these masks as long as there’s a need within our country.”

Here’s a look at what some others in the racing community are doing to help out in the COVID-19 crisis:

Joey Logano, 2018 NASCAR Cup champion, has established a $1 million COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund. The proceeds will come from the Joey Logano Foundation in partnership with Elevation Church.

The money is set to address aid for educational equity and access, medical supplies, food distribution and financial shortages throughout Charlotte, North Carolina, and communities across the United States.

“I’ve been blessed to have the ability to help others with our platform, and for the past few weeks the Joey Logano Foundation has been able to help in multiple ways on a local level, however (wife) Brittany (Baca) and I knew we could do more and felt a huge calling to give on a larger capacity at a statewide and national level,” Logano said.

Others in NASCAR pitching in include Wood Brothers Racing. That team is raising money to purchase tablets to help seniors stay in touch with loved ones who may be isolated in assisted living centers.

Brad Keselowski’s Checkered Flag Foundation is helping to provide meals to health care workers, and the Keselowski Advanced Manufacturing company is aiding in the production of face shields.

Seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson is raising money for the Center for Disaster Philanthropy Inc., which will get the funds to groups helping in the fight against COVID-19. The effort is accepting $25 donations from fans, with each donation entering that person for a chance to win Johnson’s autographed race-worn shoes. This effort goes through April 6.

Denny Hamlin used the iRacing platform to help out. During a recent iRacing event on FS1, Hamlin pledged $100 for every lap he led, plus $5,000 for winning the race, to an effort headed by The NASCAR Foundation and Feed the Children working in the South Florida area. Hamlin went on to win the race and donated $6,400 to the effort. Sponsor Coca-Cola matched the money, as did the Kevin Harvick Foundation.

In the NHRA, Scrappers Racing and owner/driver Mike Salinas, along with partner True Disruption, is collecting donations to send to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Foundation to aid in research and relief.

Donations in any amount are accepted, and donations over $30 will receive a Scrappers Racing T-shirt. All proceeds will be donated to the CDC. This campaign is seeking to raise more than $10,000 over the next 30 days. Please visit to donate.

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Auto News

Covid-19: Mercedes to set up temporary hospital in Pune

Mercedes-Benz is setting up a temporary hospital with 1,500 bed isolation wards for Covid-19 patients at Mhalunge-Ingale village, Chakan Khed, near Pune.

The facility is in Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority’s (MHADA) housing area. The newly built complex has 374 rooms. Mercedes-Benz will also provide logistics support for setting up the isolation wards. 

The medical equipment will be donated to the Civil Hospital of Khed after the Covid-19 crisis is over. Other assets from the isolation wards will be donated to the tribal youth hostels.

Mercedes-Benz has also donated ventilators to the Grant Medical Foundation (Ruby Hall Clinic).

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Car Reviews

Covid-19: UK-based F1 teams aiding respiratory device production; Mercedes design approved for NHS use

A collective of seven Formula 1 teams based in the United Kingdom and their respective technology divisions working towards the manufacture and delivery of respiratory devices required in the treatment of Covid-19 coronavirus patients. These teams are Aston Martin Red Bull Racing, BWT Racing Point F1 Team, Haas F1 Team, McLaren F1 Team, Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team, Renault DP World F1 Team and ROKiT Williams Racing.

Dubbed Project Pitlane, the collective is focused in three workstreams; reverse-engineering existing medical devices, supporting in scaling production of existing ventilator designs, and the rapid design and prototype manufacture of a new device for certification and subsequent production. Formula 1 teams’ ability to respond quickly is now especially so, as the 2020 Formula 1 season is on hold due to the Covid-19 outbreak.

On the third stream, the Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 team has developed a breathing aid that has been approved for use by the National Health Service in the United Kingdom. Teams at University College London (UCL) engineering hub MechSpace and Mercedes-AMG F1 have reverse-engineered a device which can be produced by the thousands, which has now been recommended for use by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).

This breathing aid, the continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) device, took less than 100 hours from the first meeting to the production of the first device, according to Mercedes-AMG F1. A version of the device is already employed in hospitals in China and Italy where oxygen alone is insufficient for patients with serious lung infections.

Continuous positive airway pressure devices work by pushing an air-oxygen mixture into the mouth and nose at a steady rate, keeping airways open and increasing the amount of oxygen entering the lungs. By contrast, ventilators deliver breaths directly to the patient’s lungs, however this requires heavy sedation and connection to a tube placed into the patient’s windpipe.

According to UCL, reports from Italy indicate that around 50% of patients given CPAP have avoided the need for mechanical ventilation, however CPAP devices are in short supply in UK hospitals. “These devices will help to save lives by ensuring that ventilators, a limited resource, are used only for the most severely ill,” said UCLH critical care consultant Professor Mervyn Singer.

While the CPAP devices are first being tested at UCLH, it is hoped that they will make a real difference to hospitals across the UK by reducing demand on intensive care staff and for beds, as well as helping patients recover without the need for more invasive ventilation, Singer added.

“The Formula One community has shown an impressive response to the call for support, coming together in the ‘Project Pitlane’ collective to support the national need at this time across a number of different projects. We have been proud to put our resources at the service of UCL to deliver the CPAP project to the highest standards and in the fastest possible timeframe,” said managing director of Mercedes-AMG High Performance Powertrains Andy Cowell.

“By working flat out and mobilising the support of every individual in my company as well as other small companies across the UK, we have accomplished something in five days that would normally take two years,” said Andy Obeid, CEO of Oxford Optronix, a firm that will manufacture oxygen monitors for CPAP devices.

In the United Kingdom, the state-run National Health Service currently has 8,000 ventilators, with a further 8,000 on order, however there is concern there will still be a shortage as the virus peaks, according to an AFP report. It is hoped that the CPAP devices will ease the demand by aiding with relatively moderate cases, and thus helping reserve ventilator use for the severely ill.

Tags: COVID-19

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Car Reviews

Covid-19: 2020 Paris Motor Show partially cancelled

They’re all falling like dominoes. Yesterday, we heard about the 2020 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) a.k.a. the Detroit Auto Show cancelled, with its venue turning into a makeshift hospital for Covid-19 patients, now it’s the turn of the 2020 Paris Motor Show.

Due to the coronavirus outbreak that’s hitting Europe and the world hard, organisers of the bi-annual auto show in the French capital city have announced the cancellation of the main part of the event – that’s the part where the showcars are at the traditional venue of Porte de Versailles.

For now, the cancellation does not include the Movin’On, Smart City and off-site events. Those events were planned as part of the wider new Paris Motion Festival, which is scheduled to run from September 26 till October 11 with a focus on future tech and mobility. The actual Paris Motor Show was scheduled to run from October 1 to 11.

“Nothing will be the same as before, and this crisis must teach us to be agile, creative and more innovative than ever,” organisers La Plateforme Automobile said.

This year’s motor show calendar has been ripped apart by the coronavirus. Besides Paris and Detroit, the UK’s Goodwood Festival of Speed, the New York International Auto Show and the Beijing International Automotive Exhibition have all been postponed. The Geneva Motor Show in March was pulled at the very last minute.

Many carmakers and even Formula 1 teams have took an enforced temporary break from their main business, and instead of shiny new metal, are churning out urgent medical supplies such as face shields and ventilators. The latter is needed to aid breathing in severe cases of Covid-19, which attacks the respiratory system.

Tags: COVID-19

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Auto News

Hyundai Grants $2.2 Million to Help US Hospitals in Virus Crisis

Amid all the current coronavirus craziness, it’s sometimes overwhelming to try to figure out a way to help. That’s especially true for major automakers. You’ve read about GM working with its suppliers to make ventilators, Ford making powered air-purifying respirators, F1 teams making breathing apparatuses, and more. On Friday, Hyundai stepped up with a $2.2 million donation to 11 children’s hospitals across the U.S. to provide drive-thru coronavirus testing for kids who are already getting cancer treatments.

“They’re much more vulnerable” said Dr. Charles Golden, a pediatrician and the VP and executive medical director at Children’s Hospital of Orange County, California, one of the benefactors of the Hyundai grant. “(COVID-19) is predominantly a disease that is much more severe in older persons, but children also have a harder time with it if they have underlying medical conditions, so if they are immunocompromised because they’re on anticancer medications that inhibit their immune systems, they can certainly be much more vulnerable to this.”

The testing centers are a relatively small part of Hyundai’s longtime commitment to helping find a cure for children’s cancer. In 1998, Hyundai and its dealers started a charity called Hope On Wheels, which has since given more than $170 million toward childhood cancer research.

The drive-thru centers are the result of the most recent of those grants. The centers represent the best way to test those at-risk kids while limiting their potential contact with the virus by keeping them outside hospitals or doctor offices.

At Children’s Hospital of Orange County, children’s families can make an appointment and get a preevaluation from a pediatrician, who will determine if a coronavirus test is warranted and authorize an appointment at the drive-thru clinic. It’s much safer for a child whose immune system may already be compromised by cancer treatment.

“In that circumstance, they’re confined to their car, they don’t have to get out, and it’s much more convenient,” said Golden. “Our pediatricians and providers can do a full exam of these patients without them ever having to get out of their car. We can look in their ears, we can look at their mouth, we can listen to their heart and lungs. We can make full assessments, we can test them for different viral pathogens, we can test them for strep throat, we can even give them breathing treatments.”

Each of the 11 children’s hospitals nationwide has different setups for the drive-in or drive-thru testing.

“Right now, we have something that we call the Outdoor Evaluation Center,” Golden said. “We have a surge tent and a mobile asthma clinic, a mobile asthma van that is set up in our associate health parking lot. Patients can be referred there by our primary care/specialty care practices or after a telehealth visit through our … hotline.”

Children’s Hospital of Orange County has plans to expand its drive-in clinic soon, as do the other 10 hospitals across the country that benefitted from the Hyundai grant. Here are the 11 children’s hospitals receiving Hyundai COVID-19 Drive-Thru Testing grants:

1. The Hyundai Cancer Institute at CHOC Children’s, Orange, California

2. UH Rainbow Babies and Children’s, Cleveland

3. Children’s National Hospital, Washington, D.C.

4. Dana Farber / Boston Children’s Hospital

5. Seattle Children’s Hospital

6. Columbia Medical Center, New York

7. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital, Tampa, Florida

8. Children’s Hospital of Colorado, Aurora, Colorado

9. Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia

10. Texas Children’s Hospital, Houston

11. University of Alabama Children’s, Birmingham, Alabama

As with so many hospitals addressing the new virus, the limiting factor is often simply getting enough test kits. The bottleneck is the availability of reagents (the chemical or compound used in a reaction) and machines for PCR, or polymerase chain reaction, which processes the samples collected at the drive-thrus to determine the presence of COVID-19.

“(The samples are) processed in the machine. It’s pretty high-tech actually. But, you know, this PCR machine, this technology is such that once the test is developed, it can be replicated and run very quickly. It’s pretty much standard of care now, for a lot of different types of viral and bacterial DNA testing,” said Golden.

Ideally there would be more of these machines and reagents at more hospitals so that samples could be processed on-site, with results in about an hour instead of the 10 days it takes to send the sample to a lab. It’s possible that more of these machines and reagents could be made available soon.

When Hyundai gave this round of money to the hospitals, it did not specify exactly how it was to be spent, other than that it was to go for drive-thru testing facilities. Without the money, hospitals would have to draw on already limited resources.

“Any help the CHOC Children’s and other health care systems can get from donors at this time of crisis is very much appreciated and absolutely essential in our ability to provide much-needed care to the community,” Golden said. “Because of state and local ordinances and our desire to participate in social distancing and elimination of nonessential activities in order to ‘flatten the curve,’ we are looking at alternative ways to provide care to our patients without having them come into the office. This not only includes their visiting the OEC, but also providing visits via a telehealth platform which people can access on their computers or personal devices. These new services come with startup costs and uncertain reimbursement but are essential to the health of our communities, and we are proud to be able to provide our region with them. With that in mind, any and all help is appreciated and essential as we make these changes to the way we deliver care, and we appreciate our partners at Hyundai for donating to the cause.”

With the doctor’s time running out we asked one last question. Do they give preference to people who arrive at the clinic in Hyundai vehicles?

“Ha ha ha ha,” said the doctor. “All are welcome.”

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Auto News

Covid-19: Tata Group pledges Rs. 1,500 crore

Tata Sons has pledged Rs. 1,000 crore, while Tata Trusts announced an additional Rs. 500 crore for the fight against Covid-19.

It has been reported that Tata is also planning to start manufacturing ventilators in India.

Among other Indian carmakers, Mahindra is developing an affordable ventilator. The company will also produce face shields.

Maruti Suzuki is also manufacturing ventilators in collaboration with AgVa Healthcare. It will also produce masks and protective gear for healthcare workers.


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Auto News

Covid-19: Ola creates Rs. 20 Cr. fund for drivers & families

Ola has donated Rs. 20 crore to the Ola Foundation to support its drivers and their families during the Covid-19 crisis.

Ola co-founder and CEO, Bhavish Agarwal will be donating a year’s salary towards the fund. The company is also aiming to raise up to Rs. 50 crore through crowdfunding to help drivers on any platform or services.

Ola will provide free medical consultation, emergency support and essential supplies to drivers. The Ola Foundation will also provide aid for their children’s education.

Ola has introduced a special Covid-19 insurance cover for driver partners and their spouses. The company has also waived off lease rentals on vehicles operating under its leasing programme.


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