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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.

10 hours ago - World

Maximum pressure campaign escalates with Fakhrizadeh killing

Photo: Fars News Agency via AP

The assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, the architect of Iran’s military nuclear program, is a new height in the maximum pressure campaign led by the Trump administration and the Netanyahu government against Iran.

Why it matters: It exceeds the capture of the Iranian nuclear archives by the Mossad, and the sabotage in the advanced centrifuge facility in Natanz.

Scoop: Biden weighs retired General Lloyd Austin for Pentagon chief

Lloyd Austin testifying before Congress in 2015. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Joe Biden is considering retired four-star General Lloyd Austin as his nominee for defense secretary, adding him to a shortlist that includes Jeh Johnson, Tammy Duckworth and Michele Flournoy, two sources with direct knowledge of the decision-making tell Axios.

Why it matters: A nominee for Pentagon chief was noticeably absent when the president-elect rolled out his national security team Tuesday. Flournoy had been widely seen as the likely pick, but Axios is told other factors — race, experience, Biden's comfort level — have come into play.