Updated: Aston Martin and Jaguar Land Rover target return to UK production; Vauxhall and Volvo push online sales; Seat to give employees antigen tests
The massive global effects of the coronavirus pandemic have had an equally seismic impact on the car industry.
Factories have been shuttered around the world, dramatic stock market falls have hit the value of virtually every car firm, vehicle sales have plummeted and most major motorsport events have been cancelled.
This is Autocar’s round-up of how the car world is being impacted. It will be updated regularly with information.
Friday 24 April: Volkswagen details ID 3 production, Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance cancelled
● Production of the crucial new Volkswagen ID 3 electric car has resumed at the firm’s Zwickau plant today. The site is one of the first European VW car plants to start building models since the coronavirus shutdown, and follows the resumption of work at a number of component plants.
Due to the introduction of measures to ensure the safety of staff, including social distancing and regular cleaning, production of the electric hatch will initially be significantly slower. Volkswagen is aiming to built 50 cars a day initially, around one-third of usual output.
Volkswagen has also resumed work in its Chemnitz engine plant, with Golf and e-Golf production due to resume in Zwickau and Dresden on Monday 27 April.
Thursday 23 April: Aston Martin announces cost cuts, production plans
● Jaguar Land Rover is aiming to resume production at its factories in Solihull, Austria and Slovakia on Monday 18 May.
● Good news for car buyers: the UK government has told dealers that they can sell cars again – as long as they adhere to social distancing rules.
● Volvo has extended its existing online sales platform with a new ‘Stay Home Store’ concept, allowing customers to browse “a series of attractive pre-negotiated prices and lease rates”. More flexible payment options are also available, such as payment free loan periods or no down payment offers.
● Vauxhall has also highlighted that, while its dealerships remain closed, it is offering sales of new and used cars online during the Covid-19 outbreak. Cars cen be delivered to buyers homes in line with social distancing protocols.
● Aston Martin has announced a number of cost-saving measures, including voluntary pay reductions for senior leaders, and confirmation that it has furloughed ‘the majority’ of its workforce. Meanwhile, the firm is aiming to resume production at its St Athan facility on 5 May.
The company says that is has furloughed the bulk of its workforce under the UK government job retention scheme, which offers workers up to 80% of their base salary, and will top up the pay of those affected from 1 May onwards to their regular levels.
At the same time, chief executive officer Andy Palmer and the firm’s non-executive directors will waive 35% of their salaries, with vice-presidents taking a 20% cut and other senior managers between five and 10%. New executive chairman Lawrence Stroll has elected to receive a nominal salary of £1 per annum.
Aston’s plan to resume production at St Athan will be aligned with Public Health Wales and England guidelines on safe working, and after it has worked with suppliers to ensure a steady parts supply. It says that a date for reopening its Gaydon plant will be set based on lessons it gains from the St Athan resumption.
● Nissan has begun manufacturing thousands of protective aprons for NHS workers at its Sunderland plant. Volunteers designed a manufacturing process in just eight days, allowing initial capacity of 18,000 aprons a week but with plns to increase that to 70,000 “within weeks”.
The plant already has 47,000 orders from local NHS trusts. The project continues alongside the plant’s operation to supply visors to the NHS, of which up to 100,000 are said to have been distributed each week.
● LEVC, the makers of the TX electrified London Taxi, has been forced to pause payments to its suppliers by enacting a ‘force majeure’ clause during the crisis. Its Coventry production line has been closed since March, and the temporary pause on payments is planned until at least May.
Wednesday 22 April: Nissan to start Sunderland production pilot, Seat to give staff antigen tests as it opens facilities
● Nissan will begin preparations to resume production at its Sunderland plant with a pilot scheme to test new safety protocols.
The initial activity will involve around 50 staff – less than one per cent of the total workforce – from the powertrain team, who will resume work while adopting new health and safety measures. Reviews and feedback from the pilot will help to finalise safety measures adopted when vehicle production returns at a yet-to-be-determined date when restrictions allow. Nissan suspended production at its Sunderland plant on 17 March.
Nissan is aiming to resume European production at three Spanish factories starting from April 27, including the resumption of pickup and powertrains at its Barcelona plant on 4 May.
● More than one million automotive industry employees have been affected by coronavirus factory shutdowns across the European Union and UK, according to the European Automobile Manufacturers Association (ACEA). It has complied data showing that 1,138,536 employees have been directly impacted by closures – including 64,455 in the UK – out of a total manufacturing workforce of around 2.6 million. The figures only include those directly involved in the manufacture of cars, trucks, vans and buses, and do not involve those who produce parts or other related items.
The ACEA has also calculated that the various European shutdowns have resulted in the ‘lost’ production of 2,068,832 vehicles, based on usual production levels. That includes lost production of 167,144 cars in the UK.
● Seat will carry out Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) tests on its 15,000 employees in order to enable it to resume production from Monday 27 April onwards – with the results also being used for a scientific study on the coronavirus.
The Barcelona-based firm will perform more than 3000 PCR antigen tests a week, which can tell if someone has contracted Covid-19, at its various plants in Spain, along with other Volkswagen Group factories in the country. A government-accredited laboratory will analyse the tests, which Seat says will have no impact on other testing programmes in the country.
Between 27 April and 4 May, Seat will resume one production shift per days on the three lines at its main Martorell facility, producing the Seat Ibiza, Seat Arona and Audi A1. To allow for social distancing and extra cleaning time, the lines will run at around one-third of usual capacity, producing about 325 cars a day. A second shift on each line is due to resume on 11 May, increasing production to around 650 cars per day, with Seat hoping to return to full production levels in June. With the reduced staffing requirements, the firm is negotiating a temporary layoff plan for workers who are not required.
● Nissan dealers are loaning out dealer demonstrator and courtesy cars for free use by NHS workers during the coronavirus outbreak. The initiative, which is being co-ordinated by Nissan UK, involves more than 30 dealers, with more than 100 Micra, Juke, Qashqai and Leaf models available.
Tuesday 21 April: PSA Group predicts European sales slump in 2020, Jaguar Land Rover confirms staff furloughs
● Jaguar Land Rover has confirmed that it has furloughed around half of its workforce under the UK government’s Job Retention Scheme, with the firm’s major executives also agreeing to temporary pay cuts. It comes as the firm reported its sales for the first three months of 2020 declined 30.9% compared to the same period last year, largely due to the effects of the coronavirus lockdown. Read the full story here.
● The PSA Group, which includes Citroën, DS, Peugeot and Vauxhall/Opel, is predicting that European car sales will shrink by 25% in 2020 due to the impact of the coronavirus. The firm has issued a new market outlook as part of its first quarter results. As well as falling by a quarter in Europe, PSA is anticipating that the automotive market will decline by 10% in China, 25% in Latin America and 20% in Russia this year.
PSA does note that “the outlook is currently difficult to assess and will depend on the scale, duration and geographic extent of the Covid-19 crisis.”
The firm sold a total of 627,024 cars worldwide across all its brands during the first three months of the year, a fall of 29.2% compared to 2019. That included a 78.2% drop in sales in China and South East Asia, the first region to introduce major lockdown restrictions due to Covid-19. Sales in Europe, where restrictions were largely introduced in March, fell by 30.0%.
PSA’s various brands were all hit by differing amounts in Europe. Vauxhall/Opel sold 175,338 cars, a fall of 37.3%, Citroën sales dropped by 28.3% (146,288) and Peugeot by 25.7% (216,090). DS actually posted a 16.8% rise, with the far smaller brand selling 10,915 cars.
● MG is donating 30,000 facemasks, which it has sourced through its supply chain, to a number of hospitals in the UK and Ireland. It has already delivered 10,000 masks to the temporary NHS Nightingale Hospital Birmingham, and will also send 5000 each to two NHS trusts in South Wales, and 10,000 to hospitals in Dublin and Cork.
● Businesses in the Silverstone Technology Cluster, have joined forces to start production of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to aid healthcare workers in Northamptonshire. STC chair Roz Bird contacted 3000 businesses in the STC, all based at Silverstone Park or other locations close within an hour’s drive of the British Grand Prix venue, to investigate ways to produce 14 iteams of PPE or help source the materials needed. More than 50 businesses are now working together to produce the PPE. The STC is still looking for more raw materials to further increase production levels.
Monday 20 April: Major European factories restart production, Bentley extends Cheshire community help
● Volkwagen has today restarted car production, initially at relatively low capacity, at its facilities in Zwickau, Germany and Bratislava, Slovakia.
Notably, the Zwickau plant has been converted to produce electric cars on the VW Group MEB platform and is in the process of building the first ID 3 models – showing the importance to the firm of having that model on the market as close to the planned summer launch date as feasible.
● Volvo has also restarted production and opened its offices in Sweden – a country with a relatively low infection rate. Production output has been adjusted to reflect market demand.
● Seat has announced it intends to restart production at its facilities in near Barcelona on 27th April. As with other VW Group firms restarting production, strict social distancing measures will be adhered to, while extra disinfection and cleaning of the worker areas will be put in place.
● Bentley has extended its community support initiatives to help both its home town of Crewe and the wider Cheshire area. The firm’s Meal on Wheels service is rolling out more company vehicles and vans to deliver both food and medicine.
Seat covers are also being donated to Cheshire midwives, while 1000s of pairs of gloves have been given to the local community and Cheshire East council. Protective eyewear, normally used in the paintshop, has gone to the local hospital, while it has partnered with a company in Middlesborough to 3D print face shields.
Friday 17 April: European sales collapse due to lockdowns, Volvo begins to resume production
● The PSA Group preparing for the eventual resumption of production at its Ellesmere Port Vauxhall facility, although it has yet to specify a date when that will happen. PSA says the factory has remained ‘active’ since production was halted, and a series of new protocols to reinforce health measures have been developed. PSA has invited the Unite union to review the measures before production resumes.
PSA says the measures include more than 100 steps, including checking employees for symptoms in addition to them self-monitoring. Glasses must be worn on site along with a daily supply of masks, social distancing measures will be introduced, tools will be frequently cleaned and there will be enforced waiting time when unprepared parts are exchanged. There is no indication on when production might resume at Ellesmere Port, which produces the Astra, but it is likely to be after the new three-week extension to the UK lockdown.
● New car registrations across the European Union slumped by 55.1% year-on-year in March, according to data compiled by the European Automobile Manufacturers Association (EMEA). The EMEA, which represents 16 European car firms, says that 567,308 cars were sold across the 27 EU countries last month, compared to 1,264,569 in March 2019.
Italy, which suffered the first major COVID-19 outbreak in Europe and introduced tough lockdown restrictions earlier than other countries, suffered the biggest decline. The 28,326 cars sold in the country was down 85.4% year-on-year. Sales fell by 72.2% in France, 69.3% in Spain and 37.7% in Germany. That compared to a 44% decline in UK new cars sales in March.
The EMEA data shows that the Italian-US FCA Group took the biggest hit of any manufacturer. It sold 22,070 cars in March across its various brands including Fiat, Jeep and Alfa Romeo, a 76.6% year-on-year decline.
Meanwhile, the EMEA has called on car production to resume as soon as possible, and issued a series of guidelines for the re-launch of the industry in a co-ordinated fashion. They include calling on government to stimulate market demand by promoting fleet renewal schemes and streamlining type approval regulations.
● Volvo will restart production at its factories in Torslanda, near Gothenberg in Sweden, and Ghent in Belgium on Monday 20 April. It will also reopen its offices in Sweden. The firm says that both the factories and offices have been prepared to ensure staff are as safe as possible, while production output will be adjusted to reflect Volvo’s current order books and market demand.
Volvo is aiming to start production at its plant in Charleston, South Carolina on Monday 11 May.
● Ferrari is making both respirator values and fittings for protective masks at its Maranello factory. The values have been designed by diving equipment firm Mares to fit onto masks to assist patients suffering respiratory difficulties due to COVID-19.
Ferrari is also supplying fittings to a firm called Solid Energy, which is using them to snorkel masks from sportswear store Decathlon so they can be used by healthcare workers. Distribution of the items made by Ferrari and other firms is being coordinated by the Italian Civil Protection to hospitals in Bermago, Genoa, Modena, Sassuolo and Medicina.
Thursday 16 April: Bentley shutdown extended, Nissan helping UK PPE distribution, Volkswagen gears up for production resumption
● Bentley has extended the shutdown of its Crewe factory for a further three weeks. The British manufacturer had initially aimed to resume work on Monday 20 April, but is now intending to begin the ramp-up of manufacturing on 11 May, will full production resuming a week later.
Bentley says the decision was made so it can ensure the health and safety of its staff, and then families. The three-week delay will likely be in line with the anticipated extention of the UK ‘lockdown’ set to be announced by the government later today.
● Nissan is using its experience of supply chain management at its Sunderland plant to aid mass distribution of face masks and other Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for frontline NHS workers and other carers. The firm has been taking delivery of 3D-printed visors produced by volunteers across the country, sorting them into packs of 125 and distributing to the NHS. It will send out more than 77,000 masks by the end of the week, and will be able to process 100,000 masks a week shortly.
The Sunderland plant’s distribution project was inspired by Anthony and Chris Grilli, who work at the plant. Along with their two other brothers, the Grilli’s crowd funded the purchase of a number of 3D printers to produce PPE at their homes. Nissan has now provided an injection moulding tool that can increase the number of parts produced.
● Volkswagen is working on plans to restart its production operations in Europe. It will start by resuming work at its plants in Zwickau, Germany and Bratislava, Slovakia on Monday 20 April, with its remaining German plants and those in Portugal, Spain, Russia and the USA scheduled to resume on 27 April. It aims to open factories in South Africa, Argentina, Brazil and Mexico during May.
Volkswagen chief operating officer Ralf Brandstatter said the firm has spent three weeks developing a plan for the resumption of production, which includes a “comprehensive catalogue of measures” to protect the health of employees.
The firm has developed a 100-point plan, which it says it based on experience from China, where 32 of its 33 plants have now resumed production and no staff members have since reported coronavirus cases.
● How exactly are UK autmotive firms turning their skills to the production of ventilators and other medical equipment. Autocar spoke to Williams Advanced Engineering about its part in the VentilatorChallenge UK consortium to find out. Read the full story here.
● Ford is testing an innovative solution to aid the safe resumpition of production at its plants: a social distance-monitoring wristband that buzzes in warning if employees come nearer than six feet of each other. The device is being tested by Ford employees at its Plymouth, Michigan facility.
Wednesday 15 April: Audi, Renault start reopening factories, Vauxhall repair costs slashed
● Daimler and Suzuki have also announced plans to restart some manufacturing operations in Hungary. The country is particularly dependent on its various car factories, which have been shut down for weeks due to the pandemic. The facilities will be gradually brought back online to ensure the risk of spreading the virus is kept to a minimum.
● Audi joined Hyundai in announcing plans to resume some production in Europe, even though much of the continent remains on lockdown. Bloomberg reports that the premium German brand now has around 100 workers in its Györ, Hungary engine site, working in a single shift system. A second line is expected to open up by the end of this week.
● Renault will also restart some of its operations at its Portugal plant. The French firm also claims it wants to resume production in Romania by the end of the week.
● Vauxhall has slashed the cost of servicing and repairs at its dealer network, while also prioritising key workers and NHS staff. Two new pricing structures are offered: Vauxhall Genuine for those who want only genuine manufacturer parts, and Vauxhall approved for those who are happy to save money and have ‘approved’ parts fitted with a two-year parts and labour warranty.
Tuesday 14 April: Ford’s face shield milestone, Hyundai begins production once again
● Hyundai is one of the first major carmakers in Europe to restart production at its plant in Nošovch, Czech Rublic. The facility usually produces the i30, alongside other models, and had been closed as part of a continent-wide lockdown. The country has eased lockdown restrictions as cases fall.
● Ford USA says it has already produced more than three million face shields to support health care and emergency services in the USA, and has also begun efforts to scale up production of reusable protective gowns.
The firm will also begin production today of a Powered Air-Purifying Respirator (PAPR) device that it has developed with 3M at its Plymouth, Michigan plant. It is also helping Thermo Fisher Scientific increase production of Covid-19 test collection kits.
● Ferrari has extended the shutdown of its Maranello factory until 3 May, in line with the latest instructions of the Italian government.
Despite the delay, Ferrari will continue to ramp up its ‘Back on Track’ project to ensure the health and safety of its staff. It included voluntary screening of all employees, their families and the staff of suppliers. It is also offering free insurance cover for employees and, if needed, accommodation suitable for self-isolation and medical and nursing support at home.
Friday 10 April: Aston Martin and Rolls-Royce join PPE production efforts to aid NHS staff
● Aston Martin is working with engineering firm Multimatic and research organisation the Manufacturing Technology Centre to design and produce a range of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to assist NHS staff.
The firms are collaborating on a new intubation shield that can help protect medical staff who are intubating and extubating patients with COVID-19. The new device is effectively a one-piece Perspex box that is placed over the patient’s upper body, and is designed to be stacked to take up less space. The new machines are being produced at the MTC, with Aston Martin using cutting machines at its Gaydon plant normally used to craft leather to cut silicone components used for the box. The device is currently being trialled at the Royal London Hospital.
Aston Martin is also using its 3D printers to produce around 150 protective visors a week, and is working with Warwick Hospital to develop a new protective visor that meets NHS guidelines. The firm will also start to produce up to 750 gowns a week for medical staff in Warwickshire hospitals.
Technicians at Aston Martin Works in Newport Pagnell are providing emergency vehicle repairs to NHS staff at Milton Keynes University Hospital.
● Rolls-Royce is producing face visor kits at its Goodwood factory that are being provided to local NHS staff, as first reported by the Chichester Observer. The firm is also understood to have released its fleet of 30 cars to local charities and NHS services to assist in essential deliveries to those in need.
● Ferrari has provided more details of the steps it is taking to protect works ahead of the planned reopening its its Maranello factory next week. Under the ‘Back on Track’ scheme the firm is offering voluntary screening with blood tests to all employees, their families and the staff of suppliers, so they can see if they are carrying coronavirus.
The firm will also use an app to offer medical support for staff to monitor virus symptoms and to help contact tracing in the case of any positive cases of COVID-19. Any employees who tests positive will be offered free insurance cover, accommodation suitable for self-isolation and medical and nursing support at home.
● 22 staff from Vauxhall’s Luton Vivaro van plant has been loaned to Smiths Medical to help the firm ramp up production of its NHS-approved ventilators. The 20 assemblers, team leader and supervisor were picked from Vauxhall’s workforce for their specialist production skills. They have been seconded to Smiths Medical’s Luton facility until 31 July.
● Leading British engineering firm Envisage has designed and built a new portable ventilator that uses off-the-shelf medical components. The device was produced with the assistance of management consultancy Vendigital and healthcare regulatory firm Woodley BioReg, and was provided in response to the government call for assistance in the production of more ventilators for the NHS.
Thursday 9 April: Jaguar Land Rover and Ford increase support for emergency services, production to restart
● Daimler plans to restart production at some of its German plants as early as 20 April, as demand for cars from China is on the rebound. Car factories in Sindelfingen and Bremen are to resume work, alongside some van factories. However, the maker is extending shorter hours for German workers until the end of the month.
● Audi also plans to resume production at its factories in Neckarsulm, Germany and Brussels, Belgium on 20 April. The former produces the A4, A5, A6, A7 and A8, while the latter builds the E-tron electric SUV.
● Fiat Chrysler (FCA) has begun discussions with unions on restarting production in Italy as soon as the national shutdown is ended. The current shutdown expires on 13 April, and some reports indicate it may not be renewed as the country is over the peak of cases. FCA is discussing stringent health measures to put in place if it restarts production at that time.
● Jaguar Land Rover has expanded its support for emergency response organisations around the world by increasing the number of vehicles it’s loaning to support services and commencing deliveries of 3D-printed protective visors.
The firm had already loaned more than 160 vehicles from its press fleet to organisations including the British Red Cross and National Health Service (see Tuesday 31 March below) and has now deployed 312 vehicles globally. They include a total of 210 in the UK, 14 of which are being used by the West Midlands Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust to help test staff isolating with coronavirus symptoms. The firm has also loaned vehicles to Red Cross branches and other organisations in Spain, Australia, South Africa, Brazil, Canada, Italy, the Netherlands, Russia, Germany and Belgium.
Jaguar Land Rover has also started delivering to NHS staff 3D-printed protective visors that it designed (see Friday 3 April below) and is producing at its Gayden base. It’s aiming to produce around 5000 masks per week in the UK. It has also made the files open-source so other firms can produce the visors. Jaguar Land Rover Brazil has also started producing the visors at its facility in Rio de Janeiro.
● Ford UK has loaned around 200 vehicles from its marketing and sales fleet to the NHS and other organisations. It has provided 203 cars to 40 different organisations, including 10 NHS ambulance trusts, the British Red Cross and St John Ambulance.
It has also loaned vehicles to care homes, police forces and local councils, among other groups. Ford is also working with service partner DHL to provide logistical support to the East of England Ambulance Service’s fleet team.
● Nissan has become the latest car firm to offer free roadside assistance to NHS and key workers driving any of its vehicles, regardless of its age or warranty coverage. It has also confirmed that vehicle warranties will be honoured if UK customers miss a scheduled service or repair work due to the ongoing lockdown.
● The Volkswagen Group has donated €1 million (£860,000) to provide emergency relief for refugees in Syria, Turkey and Greece who are threatened by the coronavirus pandemic. The fund will be distributed via the German Red Cross and will be used to buy and distribute food and medical supplies, as well as providing training and equipment for volunteers.
● General Motors and partner Ventec Life Systems have secured a $489.4m (£389m) contract with the US government to produce 30,000 ventilators by the end of August. The units will be based on a Ventec design and produced at GM’s Indiana plant. A fifth of the order is due to delivered by 1 June.
GM had previously attracted the ire of president Donald Trump, who had accused it of not responding to the coronavirus outbreak and threatened to invoke the Defence Production Act to compel it to make ventilators. However, Bloomberg reports that GM and Ventec had already been working on the ventilator project for more than a week at the time of Trump’s statements.
● Toyota has extended the production shutdown at all its North American factories until at least 1 May.
Wednesday 8 April: F1 season delayed further as Canadian GP postponed, Dacia deliveries
● The Canadian Grand Prix scheduled for 14 June has been postponed, further pushing back the earliest start date for the 2020 Formula 1 season. The French GP at Paul Ricard, due to run on28 June, is now the provisional season-opener, although F1 bosses are working on a revised timetable with a plan to hold 15-18 races.
British GP bosses have previously said they will decide by the end of April whether the event can go ahead at Silverstone as scheduled on 19 July. Circuit officials have also said they are open to holding multiple races in 2020 if needed. Full story here.
● Meanwhile, F1 bosses have extended the current factory shutdown period by a further two weeks. They had brought forward the traditional 14-day summer factory shutdown to allow races to potentially be held in August. That shutdown has now been extended twice, meaning teams must have shut their design, research and development, production and similar departments for 35 consecutive days between March and May this year.
A number of UK-based F1 teams, including McLaren, Williams and Racing Point, have placed a number of staff on the government’s furlough scheme, while senior staff and drivers have taken temporary pay cuts.
● Dacia has scrapped the £250 home delivery cost for customers using its online shopping platform. Anyone who orders a car on the service now will receive priority when the firm’s dealerships are allowed to open.
Tuesday 7 April: UCL and Mercedes-AMG F1 make breathing aid design freely available
● The designs for a new breathing aid developed by UCL and Mercedes-AMG High Performance Powertrains, which makes the power units used by the F1 team, have been made freely available so that they can be produced elsewhere in the world. Mercedes-AMG HPP has now dedicated its entire factory in Brixworth, Northants to production of the unit. Full story here.
Monday 6 April: Former McLaren boss to aid NHS workers with food, new Beijing motor show date
● Former McLaren boss Ron Dennis has launched an initiative to supply a million free meals to NHS front-line staff treating coronavirus patients. The SalutetheNHS.org scheme was launched with £1 million of funding from Dennis’s Dreamchasing charity fund, and is headed by Dennis and Nigel Harris, the boss of catering firm Absolute Taste (which Dennis co-founded).
Meals will be made by ingredients supplied by Tesco and Absolute Taste, and delivered to hospitals nationwide, starting with the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford and Great Ormond Street.
● UK new car sales slumped by 44.4 per cent year-on-year in March as a result of the coronavirus lockdown that was in place for much of the month. Full story here. With the restrictions remaining in place, those involved in the UK industry can look to China for examples on how to spark a recover post-lockdown. Read our analysis here. Meanwhile, new car sales didn’t just fall sharply in March in the UK: in Germany they dropped by 38% year-on-year, according to the registrations authority there.
● The BMW Group sold 477,111 cars worldwide in the first three months of this year across the BMW, Mini and Rolls-Royce brands, a drop of 20.6% on the first three months of 2019. That drop included a 30.9% slump in China, where the impact of coronavirus was felt earlier, but the firm said sales there recovered in March. European sales were down 18.3%.
● The postponed Beijing motor show, originallay due to run later this month, has been rescheduled until September this year. Full story here.
● Hyundai UK has extended warranties by 1500 miles/three months for customers whose coverage was set to expire in March, April or May 2020. A spokesperson said the offer could be extended, depending on how long the lockdown lasts.
Friday 3 April: Jaguar Land Rover’s visors, more help for NHS workers
● Jaguar Land Rover has begun production of reusable NHS-approved protective visors, with the goal of eventually producing 5000 of the units a week.
The new visor has been designed at the Advanced Production Creation Centre in Gayden in consultation with NHS staff, with Jaguar Land Rover initially aiming to produce 1300 units per week using its prototype build operations. It will then work with other companies, including Pro2Pro in Telford to further increase production.
The visors has been tested by staff at the Great Western Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and South Warwickshire NHS Foundation Trust. The device is designed to be easily dismantled and cleaned so that it can be used again, helping to combat equipment shortages.
Jaguar Land Rover intends to make the open source CAD design files available to other manufacturers, so they can print further visors.
● Toyota and Lexus are offering free roadside assistance to all key workers who drive one of their cars or vans, regardless of its age. The firms have teamed with the AA for the initiative, which will be available until further notice.
Meanwhile, the Japanese firms have given owners of their new or recently bought vehicles three extra months of roadside assistance cover free.
● Peugeot, Citroën and DS will join fellow PSA Group brand Vauxhall (see below) in offering its roadside assistance programme to all NHS workers who drive one of their vehicles, regardless of age. The brands say they have also increased goodwill payments to NHS workers whose vehicles are no longer within warranty.
● Ford UK has taken several steps to aid healthcare workers, local authorities, charities and volunteers, including loaning around 170 of its vehicles to support transport efforts.
It has also donated personal protective equipment (PPE) from its plants to local healthcare authorities, with its Bridgend engine plant donating 13,500 pairs of gloves, 150 disposable safety suit and a large stock of protective glasses. Meanwhile, Ford’s Dunton plant is currently trialling the fabrication of protective face shields.
Ford has also confimed it will extend the suspension of vehicle and engine production at most of its European manufacturing sites until at least 4 May. The firm initially halted work at the plants on 17 March.
Thursday 2 April: Vauxhall supports NHS workers
● Nissan has extended the production halt at its Sunderland plant “throughout April”. Production has been suspended at the factory since 17 March, and Nissan says the majority of employees have been furloughed under the UK government scheme.
The Japanese firm has also suspended production at its Spanish plants, introducing ‘Force Majeure’ temporary lay off measures at its sites in Cataluny and Cantabria.
In a statement, Nissan said it was “grateful for the financial assistance offered by national governments to support our 15,000 direct employees in Europe, our partner companies and suppliers.”
● Vauxhall has extended its Roadside Assistance programme, usually reserved for owners of new cars, to all Vauxhall-driving NHS workers.
The move means NHS staff can call the manufacturer in the event of a breakdown, be it at home or on the road, and have their car repaired or recovered to an approved Vauxhall workshop. The offer is extended to all Vauxhalls, regardless of age, mileage and service history.
● Williams Advanced Engineering is one of a number of car firms part of a consortium helping to re-engineer an existing ventilator design in response to the Ventilator Challenge UK project.
The firm, which was formed by the Williams F1 team to apply technology it had developed in other industries, is working with firms including McLaren, Airbus, Rolls-Royce, Siemens and BAR Systems to re-engineer a Smiths Group ParaPAC300 ventilator design in order to rapidly manufacture 5000 units for the NHS. More than 50 WAE staff members have been involved in the project, with the firm developing 3D CAD modelling, re-engineering test equipment and working on rapid prototype development.
● Skoda is helping charities and volunteers in the Czech Republic by giving them free access to more than 200 vehicles and 150 electric scooters used by its HoppyGo car sharing platform. The firm is also working with the Czech Technical University in Prague to develop a 3D printing process to produce ventilators.
● This weekend should have been the inaugural Vietnam Grand Prix, so the sport’s bosses are staging a second F1 Esport Virtual Grand Prix. Five current F1 drivers have signed up so far: Charles Leclerc, Lando Norris, Alex Albon, George Russell and Nicholas Latifi.
Those five will be joined by an assortment of random guest stars including F1 race winner Johnny Herbert (who led the first Virtual GP after massively cutting the first turn) and cricket star Ben Stokes. With the new Hanoi circuit not featured in the F1 2019 game, this weekend’s event will be staged on the Albert Park circuit used for the Australian GP. The event starts at 2000hrs on Sunday, with coverage on Sky Sports F1.
● If you’re looking for distractions to fill your new-found time at home, why not configure your dream Bentley? Autocar has set up a competition for those who do, and you could win a tour of the British firm’s Crewe factory. Click here for full details.
Wednesday 1 April: Seat’s windscreen wiper-powered ventilator
● Seat is the latest car brand to start producing ventilators, having started producing units at its Martorell factory near Barcelona for local healthcare authorities.
The automated ventilators were designed by a team of engineers, and are now undergoing final testing before approval is given for mass production. The ventilators use a number of parts adapted from Seat cars, including windscreen wiper motors, gearbox shafts and printed gears. 150 employees will produce them.
● Volkswagen has extended the production suspension at its German factories by five days, saying the decision is primarily due to the sharp fall in demand for new cars and supply chain issues.
The firm is now intending to resume production at its car and components plants on 19 April, and says it is working on a number of measures to ensure the health and safety of staff.
Tuesday 31 March: Jaguar Land Rover lends out press fleet, Lamborghini makes masks, PSA helping ventilators
● Jaguar Land Roveris lending more than 160 vehicles to organisiations including the British Red Cross and National Health Service to help deliver essential supplies to vulnerable people. The vehicles are taken from the firm’s press fleet, and include 27 examples of the new Defender. Full story here.
● Lamborghini is helping the health service in Italy by producing surgical masks and plexiglass shields at its Sant-Agata factory. The Italian firm’s in-house saddlery is currently producing 1000 masks a day, which are being donated to the Sant’Orsola-Malpighi Hospital in Bologna.
The plexiglass shields are being produced at a rate of 200 units a day using 3D printers in Lamborghini’s carbon fibre production plant and research and development centre.
● In the United States, GM is also temporarily moving into face mask production, having developed a new production line for them in seven days. It expects to deliver 20,000 masks by 8 April and says that, when up to speed, it will be able to produce 1.5 million masks a month.
● The PSA Group is part of a consortium that is aiming to produce 10,000 ventilators in response to requests by the French government. PSA, whose brands include Citroen, DS, Peugeot and Vauxhall/Opel, is working with Schneider Electric and Valet to help ventilator firm Air Liquide dramatically scale up its production capabilities.
PSA has been working on the project sine 22 March, and will produce components for the ventilators that will be assembled at Air Liquide’s base, where a number of PSA employee volunteers will be working.
● Ford has provided an update on its efforts to work with GE Healthcare to produce a third-party ventilator. The firm will begin production of a ventilator design licensed from medical firm Airon at its Rawsonville Components Plant in Michigan, with the target of producing 50,000 within 100 days – and 30,000 a month from then on, if needed.
Meanwhile, Ford has delayed plans to resume car production at its other North America plants. It has initially planned on resuming production at various dates between 6 and 14 April, but these will now be pushed back.
Monday 30 March: Car and motorsport industries ramp up efforts to help NHS, Detroit show postponed
● The Paris motor show due to be held in September has cancelled, although event organisers are still planning to run a number of smaller ‘festival’ and business-to-business events. Full story here.
● The Mercedes F1 team’s Brixworth-based powertrain division has helped UCL to develop a new breathing aid that can help keep COVID-19 patients out of intensive care. The device took around 100 hours to develop, and is set to begin clinical trials soon.
Meanwhile, a consortium that included Ford and the seven UK-based Formula 1 teams has received more than 10,000 orders for ventilators from the UK government, after the rapid development of a version that it can produce quickly to scale. Read the full story on both initiatives here.
● The Detroit motor show is the latest major automotive event to be axed due to the coronavirus outbreak. America’s longest running motor show was due to switch to a new June date this year, but organisers anticipate the exhibition centre in which it is due to be held being turned into a temporary hospital by the US Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). It is one of more than 100 convention centres and similar facilities across the USA earmarked for such use.
That means the first summer Detroit show will be delayed until 2021, when it is planned to run on 14-26 June. The cornavirus pandemic has already led to the cancellation of this year’s Geneva motor show, with the Beijing and New York shows both postponed.
● The PSA Group initially suspended production at all its plants, including the Vauxhall factories in Luton and Ellesmere Port, until 27 March, but it has moved this back to a new, unspecified date due to the continued impact of the coronavirus.
PSA says it is developing a new health protocol to reinforce preventive measures for when production does resume. Steps will include regularly taking temperatures, wearing of masks on site, hourly cleaning of tools and work surfaces, and a three-hour waiting time during exchanges of parts.
● Volkswagen will release all of its employees in Germany with medical qualifications who volunteer to work in the country’s public health service with full pay for up to 15 days.
The firm has also arranged for around £35 million worth of medical equipment to be shipped from China to Germany, where it will be distributed to medical facilities in the Lower Saxony region.
Friday 27 March: Ferrari plots return to production
● Some positive news from Italy: Ferrari is planning to resume production at its Maranello plant on 14 April. Full story here.
● Seven UK-based Formula 1 teams – Red Bull, Racing Point, Haas, McLaren, Mercedes-AMG, Renault and Williams – have put their rivalry on hold to form the Project Pitlane initiative, responding to the UK government’s call for help producing medical equipment. The teams claim to have made “significant progress” in three areas: reverse engineering existing medical devices so they can be used to treat COVID-19 patients; support in scaling production of existing ventilator designs; and the rapid design and prototyping of a new ventilator design.
In a statement, the teams said they would “pool the resources and capabilities of its member teams to greatest effect, focusing on the core skills of the F1 industry: rapid design, prototype manufacture, test and skilled assembly.” They added that they “remain ready to support in other areas requiring rapid, innovative technology responses to the unique challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Thursday 26 March: MG loans EVs to NHS, Goodwood Festival of Speed delayed
● MG will supply up to 100 electric ZS models to National Health Service agencies, to support the fight against coronavirus by adding transport capacity. The machines will be loaned free-of-charge for up to six month, with distribution done by MG dealers. The first six models have been supplied to Lancashire and South Cumbria NHS Trust.
● One of the biggest events on the UK motoring calendar, the Goodwood Festival of Speed, has been postponed. The event was due to be held in July, but organisers are now looking at dates in late summer or early autumn. Full story here.
● Meanwhile, one of the biggest events of the US motorsport calendar, the Indianapolis 500, has also been postponed. The 104th running of the flagship event of the IndyCar Series has been switched from 24 May to 23 August. It will be the first time in the events history that it has taken place outside of May. The event has only previously not been held during the First and Second World Wars.
The Indy 500 is the culmination of a month-long build-up, which traditionally kicks off with an IndyCar race on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s road course. That event has now moved to the weekend of 4 July, where it will be held as part of a double-header with the Nascar stock car race on the oval. It will be the first time America’s top two motorsport championships have run at the same circuit.
Tuesday 24 March: Aston Martin, McLaren and Morgan close plants
● Aston Martin, McLaren and Morgan have all suspended production at their UK plants following the latest government advice thar people should minimise travel and only leave their homes for essential work. Read the full story here.
● Trying to work out exactly what the coronavirus outbreak means for motorists? Click here to read our essential advice for drivers during the Covid-19 pandemic.
● Around the world, the car industry is stepping in to help with production of ventilators and other medical apparatus in a bid to combat the coronavirus. The UK government continues to work with a number of firms, and in the USA Ford has teamed up with 3M to start manufacturing Powered Air-Purifying Respirators, using off-the-shelf parts used, in part for the seat-cooling systems of the F-150 pick-up.
Ford is also working with GE Healthcare to produce a simplified version of GE’s ventilator. It is also starting to assemble more than 100,000 face masks for healthcare workers.
Meanwhile, Tesla’s Elon Musk says he bought 1255 ventilators from China and donated them to medical staff in Los Angeles. Musk says China had an oversupply of the ventilators. Tesla, along with GM and Ford, is believed to be in talks with the US government about ventilator production.
● The Azerbaijan Grand Prix, which had been due to take place on 7 June, is the latest Formula 1 race to be postponed. That means the Canadian GP on 14 June is the first scheduled event, although it also seems likely to be postponed. F1 bosses say they are still aiming to hold a 15-18 race season, both by racing during the usual August summer break and extending the season past late November.
● The UK motorsport calendar is also continuing to be hit by the coronavirus pandemic. Motorsport UK, which governs the sport in the country, has said it will extend the suspension of permits for motorsport events until at least 30 June. Motorsport UK chairman David Richards said the body “has a vital role to play with its community in reinforcing that, at this time of national emergency, we must all stay at home to play our part in protecting the NHS and ultimately saving lives.”
He added: “The government have required that we effectively lock-down for a period of three weeks, however given that the most vulnerable in our society are required to isolate for three months, it is evident that the most responsible course of action was to propose a longer suspension of our sport. When we reflect back on this time, it will be a brief, but vital, hiatus from our everyday motorsport life and we must put this in perspective.”
● In line with Motorsport UK’s decision, the British Touring Car Championship has now postponed the first five events of its season, with the events at Thruxton on 17 May and Oulton Park on 14 June now delayed.
Monday 23 March: More plant closures, US car firms to start ventilator production
● Driving tests and MOTs for heavy vehicles have been suspended for up to three months in England, Scotland and Wales. The move mirrors a separate decision made by the government in Northern Ireland. The UK government says people scheduled to take a test that has now been cancelled will be given first priority when they resume. But tests will still run for workers who have a critical need, including NHS staff and goods delivery drivers.
The MOT suspension applies only to heavy vehicles, such as buses, lorries and trailers. Any vehicles with a test due in this period will be issued with a Certificate of Temporary Extension (CTE). MOTs for cars remain running but “under review” with the Department for Transport promising “an update in due course.”
● Ford’s Dagenham engine plant will be closed from today onwards, with the Bridgend engine plant in Wales following suit on Wednesday. The break in operations is currently scheduled for a four-week period, with the firm bringing forward its regular summer closure. The shutdown will be extended across non-business critical Ford UK operations, and workers will receive “payments at least equivalent to their base pay.”
● Transport for London is suspending all road charging schemes in the capital from today, to ensure critical workers – especially those in the NHS – and supply deliveries can travel more freely. The move means drivers will no longer have to pay the Congestion Charge, Low Emission Zone or Ultra Low Emission Zone fees. TFL noted that it was key to keep the roads clear for emergency services and critical workers, urging people to travel as little as possible.
● In similar fashion to efforts seen in the UK, leading American car firms are set to step in to assist with ventilator production in the United States. In a tweet, US President Donald Trump said that Ford, GM and Tesla “are being given the go ahead” to make ventilators and other metal products. Few further specifics of what role the cars firms will play have yet to be announced.
Friday 20 March: Jaguar Land Rover and Bentley close plants, China’s lesson for the industry
● Jaguar Land Rover and Bentley have both closed their UK plants, effectively halting mainstream car production in the UK. Both firms are aiming to reopen their facilities on 20 April.
● With the UK and wider European car production effectively shut down, automotive companies are facing huge financial challenges. So how can they cope? Some answers could be found in China, where the industry is slowly recovering as the country begins to get back to business as the number of coronavirus cases in the country declines. Jim Holder spoke to some car industry sources to pick up some tips.
● Volvo will close its plants in its home country of Sweden and Charleston, South Carolina from 26 March until 14 April to protect its workforce. It has already closed its Belgium factory, which will not reopen until at least 5 April. Volvo’s Chinese plant reopened earlier this month.
● New Formula 1 technical rules due to be introduced next season have been delayed until 2022, to enable the tean teams to better soften the financial hit from the disrupted 2020 season. This year’s championship won’t begin until at least June after the first seven races of the year were either cancelled or postponed.
● If you’re missing out on your Formula 1 fix, championship bosses have launched a Virtual Grand Prix esports series. Races will be held in place of every postponed or cancelled 2020 race, starting with the Bahrain Grand Prix this Sunday. Run using the PC version of F1 2019, this weekend’s event will run on the Bahrain circuit and last 28 laps, half the F1 race distance. Races held on circuits not featured in F1 2019 will be replaced with alternative venues.
Oh, and the performance of all the cars in the game will be equalised, so Mercedes will be unable to run a virtual version of its controversial Dual Axis Steering system…
Thursday 19 March: Honda closes UK plant, driving tests postponed and more F1 races delayed
● Honda has suspended production at its UK plant, where the Civic hatch is built, “in light of increasing difficulties with supply chains and considering the wellbeing” or staff. The firm says it intends to restart production on 6 April, dependent on government advice and market conditions.
● Formula 1 bosses have officially postponed the Dutch, Spanish and Monaco grand prix. The expected postponement of the events, due to be held on the 3, 10 and 24 May respectively, means the season is now scheduled to start with the Azerbaijan Grand Prix on 7 June. F1 bosses are “studying the viability of potential alternative dates” for the races, having previously said they still hope to run a calendar or 17 or 18 races this year.
● The Driving Vehicle Standards Agency has postponed all driving tests in the UK due to take place today and tomorrow. In Northern Ireland, driving tests have been suspended for three months.
● Both Ford and GM will suspend production at their North American factories until at least 30 March. The two firms say they will take the time to clean and sanitise their plants in the USA, Canada and Mexico, and both are in talks with unions about keeping workers safe when production resumes. Audi has also suspended production in its Mexico plant due to supply chain issues.
● Hyundai has suspended production at its US factory in Alabama after a worker tested positive for Covid-19. The firm is working with local officials to sanitise the site and determining when it it safe for production to resume.
● With the motorsport world on hold, several race organisers are working with ‘virtual’ Esports series to help fill the gap. After a successful event last weekend featuring drivers such as Max Verstappen, Torque Esports will run a second All-Star Esports Battle at 1700hrs on Saturday 21 March.
Meanwhile Nascar, which already sanctions an official iRacing championship, has set up a new eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series. It says the new series will be contested by a mix of current drivers from its various series, along with ‘Nascar dignitaries’. The first event will be held on the virtual Homestead-Miami Speedway at 1730hrs UK time on Sunday 22 March.
● The Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles has closed due to Covid-19, but will offer entertainment to anyone stuck at home by streaming hour-long virtual tours of its Vault. The ‘tours’ will cost $3 each, with the proceeds going to support staff. For a look at the Petersen exhibits in the main museum.
Wednesday 18 March: Rolls-Royce and Toyota close UK plants as European industry shuts down
● TheLe Mans 24 Hours has been moved back from its planned 13/14 June date until 19/20 September. The organisers say the delay will involve rescheduling several of rounds of the FIA World Endurance Championship.
The world’s most prestigious endurance race was first held in May 1923, but has since been run in June, with two exceptions. In 1956 the event was held in July, while in 1968 civil unrest in France caused the event to be delayed until September. The race has been cancelled ten times: in 1936 due to a labour strike, and between 1940 and 1948 due to World War Two.
● Rolls-Royce has confirmed it will suspend production at its Goodwood manufacturing plant from Monda 23 March. The suspension is currently planned for two weeks, and leads into the already scheduled two-week Easter maintenance shutdown. It added that day-to-day operations will be assured by non-production staff at the company’s head office, or working remotely.
Company boss Torsten Müller-Ötvös said: “This action has not been taken lightly, but the health and well-being of our exceptional workforce is first and foremost in our minds. We are a tight-knit community at the Home of Rolls‑Royce and I have no doubt that our resilience will shine through during this extraordinary time.
“As a deeply customer-focused company we are aware that this decision to pause our production will possibly cause some discomfort or inconvenience to a few of our esteemed patrons, for which we apologise while seeking their understanding at this difficult time.”
● Porsche has announced that it will stop production for an initial period of two weeks. The decision will affects its Zuffenhausen and Leipzig plants in Germany, with the suspension starting from Saturday 21 March. The firm cited the protection of its personnel due to coronavirus, but added that bottlenecks in its supply chain no longer enabled “orderly production”. The firm also said it is anticipating a decline in demand.
● Toyota is suspending production at all of its European plants, including its two UK facilities in Burnaston, Derbyshire and Deeside, Flintshire.
● The BMW Group is also in the process of halting production at all of its European factories, along with its site in South Africa. They will all be closed by the end of the week, and is currently scheduled to last until 19 April.
● Honda will suspend production at all of its North American plants for six days from 23 March, due to an “anticipated decline in market demand”. It said it will continue to pay staff fully during the suspension, and will also utilise the period to enhance deep cleaning measures. The move will affect plants in the USA, Canada and Mexico.
● The Teslafactory in Fremont, California is set to be forced to close, with officials in Alameda County having reportedly determined it is a “non-essential” business. The plant was originally set to stay open despite a “stay at home” order in the county, but county spokesperson Sargeant Ray Kelly told The Mercury News: “If Tesla was a hospital, if Tesla was a laundromat, if Tesla was a mechanic shop, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. But Tesla makes cars, and that’s not essential for us to get through this health crisis.”
Tuesday 17 March: Ford and VW Group announce plant closures
● Ford will suspend production at its factories in continental Europe from Thursday 19 March. The decision, which the firm expects “will continue for a number of weeks” will affect two plants in Germany and one in Romania. The firm has already suspended production at its Valencia factory after three workers were confirmed with coronavirus. The firm’s two UK engine plants are not affected.
The firm added that while dealerships in some countries have temporarily closed their sales operations, its dealers are committed to “provide essential maintenance and service across the continent”.
● The Volkswagen Group is shutting down most of its factories in Europe, with boss Herbert Diess saying that it’s “almost impossible” to forecast the company’s 2020 financial performance.
● The first three rounds of this year’s British Touring Car Championship have been postponed following the lastest UK government advice on limiting mass gatherings. The season was due to begin at Donington Park this weekend. Governing body Motorsport UK is suspending all event permits until at lease April 30.
● The Tesla factory in Fremont, California, US is remaining open, despite a “shelter in place” lockdown being issued for the area in which it’s located. The plant, where the Model 3 is produced, has been deemed an essential business by Alameda County.
According to the Los Angeles Times, Tesla boss Elon Musk has emailed the plant’s 10,000 workers saying they can stay at home if they feel unwell or uncomfortable.
● The Goodwood Members’ Meeting, which was due to take place at the Sussex race circuit this weekend, has been postponed due to UK government restrictions on public gatherings. Organisers say they’re “exploring a range of alternative dates” for the event and will continue planning for July’s Festival of Speed and September’s Revival meeting “in the hope that both events will be able to go ahead as planned”.
Monday 16 March: Automotive industry race to produce ventilators, Vauxhall’s UK plant closed
● The UK government is in talks with major automotive manufacturers, including Ford and Honda, about producing ventilators for the NHS in their UK production facilities.
The idea has precedent: in China, the car industry is already helping to battle the spread of coronavirus. Chinese car maker BYD has created production lines at its Shenzen facility to produce face-masks and disinfectants. It says that it’s producing 300,000 bottls of disinfectant and five million masks per day, making it the world’s largest producer of the latter product.
● The PSA Group will stage phased closures of all of its factories across Europe, including the Vauxhall plants at Ellesmere Port and Luton.
● Ford has closed its factory in Valencia, Spain after three worked tested positive for Covid-19. The site was due to shut for from Wednesday to Friday anyway.
In a statement, Ford said: “We have had three positive cases for Covid-19 on the Valencia site in a 24-hour period, two of which involved more isolated workers that did not enter the assembly operations. We are taking quick action to follow the established protocol, including the identification and self-isolation of all employees who had close contact with the affected workers. We will take all other appropriate steps to ensure that risk from this situation is minimised.”
Sunday 15 March: Ferrari shutters Maranello factory
● Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is closing the majority of its European plans until 27 March, including six in Italy and those in Serbia and Poland. Ferrari will also close its Maranello factory, while Italian brake manufacturer Brembo is also shutting down.
● The World Rally Championship event in Mexico was halted early so that the competing teams would have extra time to get home, given the increase in travel restrictions. The next event, Rally Argentina, has been postponed.
The impact so far
The 2020 Geneva motor show scheduled for early March was cancelled after the rapid outbreak of the coronavirus in Northern Italy. The New York and Beijing motor shows, both scheduled for April, have been postponed.
The Australian Grand Prix was cancelled hours before first practice was due to begin, following the withdrawal of the McLaren team after one of its staff tested positive for Covid-19. The subsequent Bahrain, Vietnam and Chinese grands prix have also been cancelled or postponed. Formula 1 bosses are now looking to start the season in late May or June.