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2021 Chevrolet Tahoe High Country. Photo: GM

The pandemic threatened to decimate the American auto industry, but Detroit's three carmakers posted better-than-expected financial results for the second quarter, despite two-month factory shutdowns.

The big picture: The industry burned through cash while its factories were shuttered, piling up billions of dollars in losses between them. But they rebounded fairly quickly in June after restarting production while scrambling to restock dealer lots.

  • The U.S. consumer played a role, too: While they bought 33% fewer vehicles in the second quarter vs. last year, the pandemic's economic impact could have been worse.
  • Despite stay-at-home orders, many consumers embraced new online-ordering processes and took delivery of their new vehicles at home rather than at the dealership.
  • Strong demand for highly profitable trucks and SUVs also helped.

By the numbers: Each of the companies outperformed Wall Street expectations.

  • GM's adjusted operating loss was $500 million in the second quarter.
  • Ford posted an operating loss of $1.9 billion, not counting a $3.5 billion gain on its investment in self-driving tech company, Argo AI.
  • Fiat Chrysler Automobiles' adjusted operating loss was $1.1 billion.
  • Of note: Tesla posted a $327 million operating profit during the period, but that includes $428 million worth of income from selling regulatory credits to other carmakers.

What to watch: While FCA prepares to merge with France's PSA Groupe and Tesla focuses on expanding production capacity, GM and Ford are gearing up for some of their most anticipated — and profitable — models.

  • For GM, these include the redesigned Chevrolet Tahoe and GMC Yukon.
  • For Ford, it's the redesigned F-150 pickup, plug-in Mustang Mach-E, and in 2021, the reborn Ford Bronco family of SUVs.

Go deeper

Ina Fried, author of Login
Oct 30, 2020 - Economy & Business

The pandemic isn't slowing tech

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Thursday's deluge of Big Tech earnings reports showed one thing pretty clearly: COVID-19 may be bad in all sorts of ways, but it's not slowing down the largest tech companies. If anything, it's helping some companies, like Amazon and Apple.

Yes, but: With the pandemic once again worsening in the U.S. and Europe, it's not clear how long the tech industry's winning streak can last.

Ina Fried, author of Login
Oct 29, 2020 - Technology

Apple sets September quarter sales record despite later iPhone launch

Apple CEO Tim Cook, speaking at the Apple 12 launch event in October. Photo: Apple

Apple on Thursday reported quarterly sales and earnings that narrowly exceeded analysts estimates as the iPhone maker continued to see strong demand amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

What they's saying: The company said response to new products, including the iPhone 12 has been "tremendously positive" but did not give a specific forecast for the current quarter.

In photos: D.C. and U.S. states on alert for pre-inauguration violence

National Guard troops stand behind security fencing with the dome of the U.S. Capitol Building behind them, on Jan. 16. Photo: Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Security has been stepped up in Washington, D.C., and state capitols across the U.S. as authorities brace for potential violence this weekend.

Driving the news: Following the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol by some supporters of President Trump, the FBI has said there could be armed protests in D.C. and in all 50 state capitols in the run-up to President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration Wednesday.