Written by, Alicia DeCroix, Marketing Manager at dlhBOWLES, Inc. September 9, 2020
The Automotive industry has seen its share of turbulence, and oftentimes those of us who live and breathe Automotive our entire careers wonder why we put ourselves through the cyclical cycles of up and down that happen like clockwork every 1 ½ to 2 Automotive Cycles (9 to 13 years for you non-automotive folks). But 2020 has brought us something that nobody could have dreamt up and looks so familiar to the dystopian books that are near and dear to my heart; Coronavirus (AKA COVID-19).
It’s seems like just yesterday that we were in Las Vegas for CES 2020. Hosting multitudes of people in our Suite, shaking hands with exhibitors, and breaking bread with our partners. I was sick with an awful cold in Vegas this year and thinking back now, I definitely would not have gotten on that plane with the little sniffle I had on day 1 had I known that our world was about to become what we see today.
Fast forwarding to March 4, 2020 I landed in Detroit for an Automotive conference just 2 hours before my company restricted all business travel. The conference was “guarded” a couple people were wearing face coverings, handshakes were replaced by elbow bumps or head nods. It was awkward to not hug my long-time automotive friends. By the time I reached home on March 9th, the world was trying to figure out what to do. Flights grounded; Cruise ships stranded at sea; People were in utter disbelief and many did not believe it was real at all…still the case with some people.
March 12, 2020 our schools announced they were closing, March 13th was my last day at my office where I have not returned since. Like many of you, I was trying to get acclimated to my new home office and new tools to connect to others at work while trying to keep my head about me and help my son with virtual school (which admittedly was a failure in our household). All while attempting to keep up on the latest Automotive plant closures to report to Management, release a new sales forecast every couple of weeks, wade through real from fake news, what is happening with the economy? the virus? shuttered businesses? unemployment is skyrocketing? Anyone, including myself had every right to be anxious or to wonder when it will end or will it get worse.
But then suddenly things started to improve. We didn’t want to believe it at first, but the world had figured out how to continue to live (albeit with major changes to our daily lives). We figured out how to reopen factories, restaurants, entertainment venues. Reinforced the use of our nations parks and getting outside to enjoy safe socially distanced activities with friends and families. Not perfect, but better.
Despite everything COVID, work was busy with assisting with medical product supply chains, and our development partners hadn’t slowed down, keeping us optimistic that new technology, research and development in key areas within our industry continue to thrive despite this new environment.
Fast forward to September 2020. The Automotive industry has seen month over month growth in Sales as people return to the dealerships. August ended at a strong 15.2M SAAR which many of us wondered if we would come close to in 2020. Dealerships turned over 50% of their inventory in August keeping factories running as fast as they can to replenish the stock despite dealing with rampant absenteeism still even 6 months since the world shutdown. The real question on everyone’s mind, is this sustainable? Although I would like to be the first Automotive analyst to jump up and down and say our industry is only going up from here, sadly my crystal ball went hazy back in March when the unthinkable happened and COVID-19 started sending everyone home to quarantine.
What I am comfortable predicting is that the Automotive Industry will prevail and recover better than ever. We have learned a lot of lessons across the globe, across the country, and at each of our individual companies. We have learned that we can safely operate our businesses and keep our employees and their families safe from not only this disease, but any disease. We have learned compassion for our employees and that we truly are all in this together. The Automotive Industry has successfully learned to cope with the impact of COVID-19 giving us hope that the industry and economy could better handle any future outbreaks or flare ups without catastrophic effects.
WE ARE AUTOMOTIVE STRONG.
About the Author
Alicia DeCroix is the Marketing Manager at dlhBOWLES, Inc. in Columbia, Maryland. She has a bachelor’s degree in business management from Eastern Michigan University and a Master of Science in Management, Strategy, and Leadership from Michigan State University. She has worked in the Automotive industry for 20+ years and is a seasoned veteran in forecasting and analyzing the Automotive Industry providing stakeholders with insight to drive business forward.