Welcome back! It's Day 4 of Michigan's 21-day stay-at-home order.
Situational awareness: This week is usually when cars and fancy exhibits are rolling into the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in preparation for the annual New York Auto Show. Instead, they're staging 1,000 hospital beds.
President Trump speaks during a press briefing at the White House in Washington, D.C., on March 26. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images
At President Trump's urging, automakers have mobilized with astonishing speed to help medical equipment makers produce much-needed ventilators and masks to fight the coronavirus.
Where it stands: Within 90 minutes, Ventec Life Systems announced that GM will begin shipping FDA-cleared ventilators from GM's Kokomo, Indiana, factory as soon as next month. GM will redeploy 1,000 workers to ramp production and is donating its resources at cost, the release said.
Why it matters: Governors are pleading with Trump to do more to help their states secure the necessary supplies to care for a surge in coronavirus patients. But the president has been reluctant to federalize the effort.
What we know: The GM announcement had been scheduled for Wednesday but was called off to buy more time for the Federal Emergency Management Agency to assess whether the estimated $1 billion price tag was too expensive, and how many ventilators would be produced, the New York Times reported and Axios confirmed.
Other automakers including Ford, Fiat Chrysler, Toyota and Tesla are mobilizing supply chains and conferring with medical device makers to see how they can help.
Flashback: Trump publicly pushed GM to move heroically, but if the effort fails, GM will be left facing the fallout, as I wrote earlier this week.
American Airlines planes parked at Los Angeles International Airport. Photo: Alex Tai/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images
Congress' massive $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus package includes $58 billion for U.S. airlines, half in grants to cover 750,000 employees' paychecks, and the rest in loans or loan guarantees to help them keep operating during the worst travel downturn in history.
Why it matters: With some 80 million U.S. residents under mandatory stay-at-home orders and the coronavirus pandemic continuing to spread, hardly anyone is flying these days. But when the public health crisis ends, airlines want to be able to take off again quickly.
The big picture: The Treasury Department can demand stock warrants in exchange for the loans, which means U.S. taxpayers could wind up owning a chunk of America's best-known airlines.
One of the most controversial recipients is Boeing, which, although not named, is believed to get up to $17 billion for loans and loan guarantees for "businesses critical to maintaining national security."
In total, the stimulus package includes $114 billion for transportation.
Go deeper: The Eno Center for Transportation has a great summary here.
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
Car dealers are doing everything they can — including making house calls to deliver cars remotely — in hopes of preventing a total collapse of vehicle sales.
Why it matters: Few consumers have been willing to buy cars online the way they buy shoes. But among the many lifestyle changes we might see when this pandemic finally ends could be a desire to conduct more business remotely — including car shopping.
What's happening: With millions of Americans stuck at home, big dealership chains like AutoNation and Sonic Automotive are pushing their online-retailing services harder, reports the Wall Street Journal.
The bottom line, writes the Journal: "This may be the iPhone moment of transitioning to a more digital retail environment," said Tyson Jominy, auto analyst for J.D. Power.
Air taxi: Lilium raises another $240M to design, test and run an electric aircraft taxi service (Ingrid Lunden — TechCrunch)
Trucking: TuSimple and ZF to develop tech for mass-produced autonomous trucks (Linda Baker — FreightWaves)
Emergency Wifi: FCC lends WISPs 5.9 GHz spectrum for pandemic-driven traffic (John Eggerton — Broadcasting & Cable)
This sign in Menlo, Iowa, was erected in 1934, on what was then U.S. Highway 6. The sign, restored in 2008, waves again: Goodbye to the old car culture. Hello to something new. Photo: David Guttenfelder/National Geographic
Check out National Geographic's April issue (subscription required) in celebration of the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, for a different perspective on climate change.
2020 Lexus NX300h. Photo: Lexus
This week, I'm driving a 2020 Lexus NX 300h hybrid, but I have nowhere to go.
The big picture: Michigan is under a stay-at-home order until April 13, and I've been so busy covering coronavirus news that I haven't had much time anyway.
Finally I decided to venture out for a solo drive.
The Lexus NX 300h isn't the ideal car for a pleasure drive — it's a small hybrid crossover that feels sluggish and cramped — but that doesn't matter.
With a Bluetooth connection and a change of scenery, I was able to talk to friends and family without violating the social distancing rules.
The bottom line: It lifted my spirits. You should try it.