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Actor Denis Leary (right) and Ford's Todd Eckert launching the F-150 online. Photo: Ford

Many of the year's most important new cars and trucks will be seen for the first time not on stage at an auto show but online in a virtual launch party.

Why it matters: The reveal of an all-new vehicle is typically a multimillion-dollar marketing extravaganza, with pulsating music, bright lights and lots of hype.

  • The coronavirus has made that next to impossible, but there's a silver lining: Carmakers are finding they can reach a far bigger digital audience when most people are stuck at home.

Driving the news: Ford's reveal of the redesigned 2021 F-150 pickup last night on YouTube and Facebook was hosted by actor Denis Leary. (Read details about the truck.)

  • The 40-minute show, filmed at the former Willow Run assembly plant where Ford produced B-24 bombers for World War II, captured 1.7 million views on Ford’s social media channels.
  • Before the pandemic, Ford had planned a live event in Texas with a few hundred media, consumers and dealers in May.

This is the new normal for vehicle launches.

  • On July 13, Ford will launch its next generation of the legendary Bronco online, too.
  • On Aug. 6, GM will take the wraps off its first electric Cadillac, the Lyriq.
  • Toyota, Lexus, Nissan and others have also hosted virtual vehicle debuts.

Many of the models had been set to debut at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, which, like other big auto shows in Geneva and New York, was canceled.

Go deeper

Aug 26, 2020 - Economy & Business

An invisible valet can park the cars in this high-tech garage

Ford and Bosch's automated valet parking demonstration. (Photo courtesy of Ford)

In the not-too-distant future, motorists won't have to worry about finding a parking space. They'll leave their car at a drop-off location and the vehicle will park itself in a parking garage.

What's happening: Ford is working with a tech supplier, Bosch, and Bedrock, a Detroit real estate developer, to perfect the system as part of a pilot at a retrofitted garage in Detroit. The companies said it is the first infrastructure-based solution for automated valet parking in the U.S.

28 mins ago - Science

COVID time warp

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The start of the COVID-19 pandemic seems like a lifetime ago to some, and just yesterday to others. Scientists are beginning to unpack the way people processed the passage of time amidst the stress, uncertainty and isolation of the 1 year, 8 months and 21 days since WHO declared a pandemic.

Why it matters: The pandemic's global effects on how people experience time could provide new insights into the brain's ability to perceive and predict time — a fundamental feature of life.

Mitt Romney calls Ray Dalio's China investments a "sad moral lapse"

Sen. Mitt Romney walks to a Senate Republican caucus meeting at the Capitol on Oct. 7. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) on Thursday criticized billionaire Ray Dalio's investments in China, writing in a tweet that "his feigned ignorance of China's horrific abuses and rationalization of complicit investments there is a sad moral lapse."

Driving the news: Romney's comments come after Dalio's firm, Bridgewater Associates, the largest hedge fund in the world, raised $1.3 billion in November for a new private fund in China, Bloomberg reports.