Welcome back! If you've got tips or feedback, or just want to say hi, send me an email at email@example.com.
🚨 "Axios on HBO" is expanding its 2020 season and moving to a new night and time! We return with can't-miss episodes airing biweekly, starting Monday, April 27 at 11pm ET/PT on all HBO platforms.
Today's Smart Brevity count: 1,681 words, a 6-minute read.
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
Unionized auto workers say General Motors, Ford and Fiat Chrysler shouldn't restart production until there is sufficient testing to show it is safe to go back to work.
Why it matters: President Trump and a handful of governors are pushing to reopen the economy, while losses mount at companies whose operations are suspended. But consumers are wary about lifting stay-at-home restrictions too soon, and if worried employees don't show up either, it will be next to impossible to get America back up and running any time soon.
What's happening: Many automakers had been targeting May 4 to begin a gradual ramp up of production under strict new health safety protocols (See item 4 below). GM and Ford had not announced a date, but were expected to launch around the same time.
The UAW wants to see more testing before plants reopen, telling companies that early May is "too soon and too risky" for its members.
The big picture: Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious diseases expert, says the U.S. is "just not there yet" in terms of reaching the testing capacity needed to reopen large parts of the economy.
Between the lines: The UAW, while smaller and less powerful than back in its heyday, still has the clout to influence industry decisions.
The bottom line: It could be several more weeks — or longer — until the auto industry starts up again.
Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios
Restarting vehicle manufacturing plants when it is safe to do so would surely be good news for the U.S. economy, but it's only half the equation for automakers.
The big picture: Until consumers are ready to buy cars again, the industry's recovery will be muted.
There are reasons to be optimistic: After plummeting in March, retail auto sales stabilized during the first two weeks of April and are now showing signs of recovery, according to data agency J.D. Power.
Some markets, especially in the South, are improving faster than others.
What to watch: May will be critical. It's ordinarily a big month for carmakers, and the easing of restrictions in some markets could mean continued improvement.
Yes, but: There are some flashing yellow lights.
The bottom line: The outlook for 2020 auto sales is improving. Instead of completely seizing up, new vehicle sales now look to be in the range of 12.6 million to 14.5 million units vs. a pre-virus forecast of 16.8 million, says J.D. Power.
You asked for it! We're unveiling an Axios mobile app — an efficient, elegant experience I think you'll like.
Why it matters to you:
GM workers collaborate as we all will some day: wearing masks. Photo: Joann Muller/Axios
Whether you work in a factory, a retail store, a restaurant or an office, you're going to have to get used to wearing a mask at work for the foreseeable future.
Why it matters: Until there's a vaccine for the coronavirus, or enough people have been exposed that it's no longer a threat, masks will be advised, and likely required, in public.
Context: I visited a former GM transmission factory Thursday that is now a hub of mask-making activity.
To be allowed inside, I had to practice all of the new health safety protocols that GM is instituting at its factories and which are likely to be similar for any workplace.
My thought bubble: It was exciting to be out of my house, and doing my job for a change, but I was anxious about touching anything, or letting people stand too close.
The whole point of wearing a mask at work, however, is to allow safe interactions with colleagues.
Gerald Johnson, GM's executive vice president of global manufacturing, says people just have to get used to it.
Actress Hedy Lamarr received a 1942 patent that helped usher in self-driving car technology. Photo: Bettmann/Getty Images
Hollywood story: Chasing the leading lady who escaped the Nazis and helped build our self-driving future (Elana Scherr — Road and Track)
Joint venture: Daimler, Volvo Trucks team up on hydrogen fuel cells for heavy trucks (Greg Gardner — Forbes)
Cash poor: Billionaire Trevor Milton's Nikola Motor received $4 million from PPP coronavirus small business fund (Robert Frank — CNBC)
2020 Toyota Camry TRD performance model. Photo: Toyota
This week I'm driving a high-performance Toyota Camry, which sounds like an oxymoron, but hear me out.
The big picture: The Camry has long been a practical, reliable choice — it's spacious, quiet and comfortable.
Toyota takes it to the next level with its TRD performance line, which stands for "Toyota Racing Development" and is inspired by Toyota's racing heritage.
All I can say is it's the sportiest Camry I've ever driven.
Toyota doesn't skimp on assisted driving features, even in models like the Camry TRD, which is meant to be driven aggressively.
The bottom line: The Camry TRD starts at $31,040, which is a lot of fun for a reasonable price.