Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Covid-19 and the End of the Automobile Age in America

Silahkan membaca berita terbaru tentang otomotif berjudul Covid-19 and the End of the Automobile Age in America di website Batlax Auto.
Yesterday I was interviewed in the Dayton Daily News about layoffs at the Ohio Honda plant and I stated this may well be "The End of the Automobile Age" in America. So let me explain a bit further what I mean.

Much of the future is up to speculation. However, it seems clear that any return to "normalcy" is closely connected to the widespread availability of a vaccine to counter the Cover-19 virus. Until that happens, life will not even approach what it was before early March, 2020 in the USA. Will large numbers of folks buy new cars when one does not know if they will live beyond a few weeks? And beyond that, will the impact of the virus upend our recent orgy in self-gratification and materialism? Perhaps the new society will center on very different values that the automobile no longer represents.

I have been struck recently by how the lockdown has changed my community and neighborhood. Now when one walks or bikes it is common to get greetings from neighbors also on the road or working on lawns and gardens. In the early evening our neighborhood roads are filled with walkers and families on bicycles. Automotive traffic is minimal, and I think that is a good thing. And this is in a suburban neighborhood that does not have sidewalks. Community seems to be now more a way of life than anytime I have experienced  in my 35 years living in Washington Township.

Certainly until there is a vaccine there will be very little air and highway travel. With an economy in tatters, who can afford a 70k SUV? Between job losses and stock market decline, our wealth has dropped significantly. And the cost for things of necessity has risen -- check local food prices.

Will students return to residential colleges for a "social experience," or learn online? To add to this complexity,  can one learn laboratory skills online, or will there be other accommodations for engineering and science students? Clearly our social entropy will slow down from past patterns.

And then we have the global automotive industry. Given China's rather quick recovery, will the "virus experience" shift the focus of automobile manufacturing from the US to China in even more pronounced ways that we have already witnessed? The West -- US and Europe --  has taken a disproportional hit and the long-term consequences will be profound.

All we can do now is see how it all unfolds, while continuing to stay safe.   
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