COVID and Auto Industry Booming Together

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A side-by-side is shown of a virus cell and Mary Barra with hearts floating over them.

One of the reasons romantic comedies are so popular is that, deep down, everyone enjoys a good love story. We all like to see two people come together, unlikely though it might be, and overcome all the odds – and frequent miscommunications – to find happiness with each other and come out the other side stronger than ever before. This year, we’ve been witness to such a love story unfolding, and as 2020 draws to a close, it’s clear now that the auto industry has found a loving, if somewhat unexpected, partner in the COVID-19 virus.

Things looked rocky at first, I admit, but that’s how all of these stories go, right? There’s that awkward beginning, where our doe-eyed lovers first meet, and they don’t hit it off right away. Who wants to see a love story where it’s absolute love at first sight, with no difficulties or troubles, and then they live happily ever after? Where’s the drama? The conflict?
Just like all the great romances: Romeo and Juliet, Quasimodo and Esmeralda, RMS Titanic and the iceberg, there was difficulty and trouble for our young couple. But, we can see now that these crazy kids are going to be okay and have a bright future together.

A Rocky Start

As is so often the case, things didn’t start off easy for our intrepid couple. Although the auto industry has been around for quite some time, it’s not exactly the blossoming flower of vigor that it once was. Sure there are hints, here and there, of something noble or interesting with the industry, but for the most part, it’s a lot of people trying to one-up each other without really innovating much or taking risks. It’s kind of boring – boring isn’t always bad, but it’s just not all that sexy.

But then along came COVID-19, which is anything but boring. And right from the very start, there were sparks. People were sick, people were stuck at home, businesses were closing down, and the auto industry was no exception to this. Factories closed, workers were sent home, and dealerships followed suit – protecting their workers by keeping them out of the front-lines.

While healthcare workers, many retail employees, and delivery drivers were kept in harm’s way, a lot of the people within the auto industry found themselves with too much time on their hands. For some, it was a welcome break from the craziness of modern life – a chance to walk their dogs four times a day and spend countless hours playing Animal Crossing. For others, it was a dreadful imposition on their freedom and overstepping of both government and the private sector. Oh, there was drama and conflict, alright.

Hints of Love

General Motors and a person with a mask on are shown matching on Tinder.

Then, things started to change. Perhaps COVID wasn’t as dangerous and impetuous as the auto industry thought. In fact, all of this extra time with factories closed could, perhaps, be an opportunity. But how could they capitalize on this moment and really solidify their relationship with this newfound paramour?

It started, as these things so often do, with some playful flirting. Car companies posting on social media, showing their support for the people affected by COVID-19, letting the world know that they were united with everyone else. It was all pretty superficial, of course, but you could see the hints of romance in the air. People were worried, scared, and anxious; sales were down as cars weren’t being made – and if they were, there was nowhere to sell them.

But amidst this chaos, opportunities arose, and the auto industry sent a winky-face emoji to COVID. Online car sales began to flourish as people realized that a $40,000 car was just one more thing they could order from the comfort of their own homes while in their pajamas. Here was a chance at growth, and the romance between the auto industry and COVID began to thrive, fed by online sales and – best of all – the return to normalcy.

As thousands of people across the country became sick and hundreds died every single day, the auto industry took a bold stance and began to court COVID quite publicly. It began with dealerships opening back up. Everything was fine: surfaces were being wiped down, people were wearing masks – sometimes even covering their noses with the masks! Business could resume once more, and factories started to open up again. Workers might not be able to safely keep a distance from each other or be provided with proper equipment to prevent the spread of harmful diseases, but that didn’t matter – love was in the air!

Romance Triumphant!

So, while the spring of 2020 had been a rough period for the auto industry, some had worried it was a time from which the industry would never recover, the warmth of summer allowed their love to flourish. The harm, the difficulty, the struggle, all of it just went away. One day – like a miracle – it just disappeared.

Now, things couldn’t be better. Fiat Chrysler had record profits in the summer of 2020, while Ford was able to pay back $15 billion that it had borrowed when things looked rough. GM is already investing all of these profits in what it cares about most: itself, with new investments in its EV model development. Because people aren’t just buying cheap cars; they’re buying large SUVs and pickups, expensive vehicles that really showcase just how difficult these times have been for everyone.

One industry insider, who wished to remain anonymous, said, “This is a truly fantastic time for the auto industry. We were worried that COVID would cause irreparable harm, but really, it’s been a blessing that has us all feeling young again. It really could’ve been worse: it could’ve been a worldwide pandemic that killed millions of people.”

These comments, and others, really let you feel the warmth and affection between these two lovebirds. It’s a bold, adventurous sort of love that shows no signs of stopping. After all, if COVID at its worst (so far) couldn’t slow down auto sales for more than a couple of months, then what could?

Happily Ever After

A spokesperson for COVID-19 had the following to say, “We weren’t sure how well we’d be received by the people we’re making sick and killing, but the reception has been really fantastic. There was some fear at first, of course, because there’s always fear and uncertainty of the unknown – but now that we’re all a bit more comfortable with each other, we really feel blessed to have found a partner in the auto industry.”

I couldn’t have said it better myself. It’s always great to see a love story like this turn out so well. In fact, there have been some cases where things were never difficult – Tesla continued to post profits all year, even as other companies were slowed down and hurt by the pandemic. Now the auto industry and COVID walk together, hand-in-hand, toward the horizon and a future full of love and happiness, as the sun sets on humanity.

Editor’s Note: We attempted to contact the “spokesperson for COVID-19” cited by the author of this piece, but when we used the phone number we were provided with, we heard only an intolerable screeching sound that caused our ears to bleed. A follow-up statement from an auto industry insider was provided to us, saying, “We don’t want people to die. We just want them to give us their money; then they can do whatever.” Truly noble words from an industry full of great humanitarians. Thank you.

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