Welcome back! Have you noticed how confusing the passage of time is these days? I hope you're all doing your part by staying home, if you can, and staying healthy.
Smart Brevity count: 1,678 words, a 6-minute read.
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
In two weeks, the coronavirus has brought the entire U.S. auto industry to a screeching halt. When it finally sputters back to life, many companies may be forced to change, defer — or even abandon — their ambitious plans for self-driving vehicles.
The big picture: Auto factories are shut down across North America to prevent the spread of the virus among workers, while stay-at-home orders have kept car shoppers away from showrooms. The resulting financial shock means carmakers have shifted their focus to survival, not investing in expensive technologies with no clear payoff.
The uncomfortable truth about self-driving cars is that there's no clear business model yet.
Autonomous delivery seems made for a pandemic like this, on the other hand. People who are afraid to go out have discovered the convenience of home delivery in huge numbers.
Yes, but: When the economy does begin to recover, investment capital could be hard to come by.
Cruise CEO Dan Ammann told Axios his company is focused on keeping employees safe and sticking to its mission.
What's next: Industry consolidation is likely to accelerate within the next six to 12 months.
Photo: David L. Ryan/The Boston Globe via Getty Images
The Trump administration's final rules weakening Obama-era vehicle mileage and emissions standards through the mid-2020s include some surprising safety claims.
Driving the news: In what is shaping up to be a major legal battle with environmentalists, the federal government said it will require 1.5% annual increases in fuel efficiency through 2026 — far weaker than the 5% increases under the previous rules that the industry said it couldn't meet.
Context: It's important to note that conditions have changed dramatically since Obama crafted the original rules in 2012.
What they're saying: The government claims that by making newer, safer, and cleaner vehicles more affordable for American families, more lives will be saved and more jobs will be created.
But, as Reuters' David Shepardson points out on Twitter, most of the safety gains from the new rule are not from improved vehicles but from Americans driving less.
My thought bubble: I'm a journalist, not a mathematician. But something doesn't add up.
On their first day, auto workers at GM learn how ventilators go together. Photo: GM
Sadly, it's clear the wartime mobilization effort to produce ventilators and medical supplies got started too late to help patients and medical personnel before the coronavirus peaks in some cities like New York.
Driving the news: American manufacturers are saying it will be months before they meet demand for high-quality masks, the Wall Street Journal reports.
Most of the 100,000 ventilators President Trump promised the U.S. would obtain won't be available until June, Federal Emergency Management Agency officials told the House Oversight Committee this week, Politico reports.
By the numbers: 3M and a half dozen smaller competitors are making about 50 million protective N95 masks per month, well below the 300 million per month the Department of Health and Human Services says are needed to fight a pandemic.
In an exclusive interview with Axios, Rear Adm. John Polowczyk, the senior Navy officer now in charge of fixing America's broken medical supply chain, acknowledged that lining up new manufacturers will take weeks or longer.
The bottom line: American industries are scaling as fast as they can, but global demand far outweighs the supply of needed equipment.
GM's new modular platform and battery system, Ultium. Photo: Steve Fecht for GM
General Motors and Honda are jointly developing two new electric vehicles for Honda that will be based on GM's new flexible EV platform and manufactured at GM plants.
Driving the news: Their timing is interesting — two days after the Trump administration rolled back fuel efficiency rules through 2026.
Why it matters: No company can go it alone when it comes to funding advanced technologies like electrification, especially after the hit the auto industry has suffered from the global pandemic.
It's a win-win for both companies, and for consumers.
The companies already work together on many fronts, including hydrogen fuel cells.
The intrigue: GM and Honda may be partners, but they are aligned on opposite sides of the debate over auto emissions policy, notes my Axios colleague Ben Geman.
Driven: How self-driving star fell off course (Pete Bigelow — Automotive News)
Apnea: Tesla fumbles ventilator gift (Bill Hampton — AutoBeatDaily)
Mission-critical: Mayo Clinic starts using autonomous vehicles to deliver coronavirus tests and medical supplies (Kyle Wiggers — Venture Beat)
Genesis G70. Photo: Genesis
This week I'm driving the 2020 Genesis G70 RWD Sport, a compact performance sedan that should have BMW and Mercedes-Benz worried.
The big picture: Hyundai's new luxury brand is making a name for itself. While Genesis has only three sedan models to date — the G70, G80 and G90 — its first SUV, the GV80, debuted earlier this year in South Korea.
The entry-level G70, starting at $36,445, goes straight at the the BMW 3-series and the Mercedes C-Class and more than holds its own.
I'm driving the G70 3.3T version, with an upgraded 365 horsepower twin-turbo engine an 8-speed transmission with paddle shifters, and tons of standard convenience and safety features.
The bottom line: The G70 offers a powerful combination of beautiful styling, lively handling and great value.
If the kids are driving you crazy at home, introduce them to this activity book from Ford.