Coronavirus causes automakers to rethink debuts of Ford Bronco, GMC Hummer EV and others

Tim Kuniskis, head of Fiat Chrysler’s passenger vehicles division in North America, reveals the 2021 Dodge Durango SRT Hellcat SUV throughout a web based occasion on July 2, 2020.


Automakers are scrambling to resolve how and when to launch extremely anticipated new vehicles and vehicles now that the coronavirus pandemic has forced organizers of some of world’s greatest annual auto reveals to cancel into 2021 and past. 

Automakers spend hundreds of thousands of {dollars} a 12 months on debuting new automobiles – from elaborate launches and shows at auto reveals to personal previews for wing journalists, sellers, homeowners and social media influencers. The objective is to produce hype and demand for a automobile earlier than it arrives in showrooms.

“Awareness is so key. If somebody doesn’t know about a vehicle in the showroom then they don’t know to go to the showroom for that vehicle,” mentioned Rick Deneau, head of communications for Fiat Chrysler’s manufacturers, gross sales, advertising, engineering and high quality in North America. “It’s pretty simple how that goes.”

The occasion cancellations have created a backlog of auto debuts , together with a brand new product lineup from Dodge’s SRT efficiency unit that was unveiled Thursday afternoon.

Other extremely anticipated automobile debuts had been canceled this spring, embody General Motors’ all-electric GMC Hummer pickup and the Bronco SUV household from Ford Motor.

Costs of such cancellations can add up however, extra importantly, they will shorten the quantity of time automakers have to garner consideration for his or her merchandise.

“The schedule is thrown off,” mentioned Stephanie Brinley, principal automotive analyst at IHS Markit. “We didn’t have a New York auto show, we didn’t have a Detroit auto show. And we have cars that are still going on sale and automakers need to communicate that these are coming … they need to get people excited about them and the traditional delivery for that content is gone.”

GM declined to saywhen it will unveil the Hummer, nonetheless, given the automobile is not set to go into manufacturing till subsequent fall, the corporate has a while to determine it out. Others automakers resembling Ford do not have that luxurious as automobiles such because the Bronco SUVs and Ford F-150 – its most essential product – are due in showrooms later this 12 months and into early-next.


Ford, which has a slate of debuts this 12 months,  has been pressured to embrace other ways to unveil automobiles greater than different automakers.

The automaker launched the 2021 Ford F-150 final week throughout a pre-taped occasion hosted by actor Denis Leary, a former pitchman for the truck. It’s additionally set to reveal its new “Ford Bronco 4×4 family” later this month.

“The challenge that marketers face right now is that all of these reveals could look and feel the same,” Matt VanDyke, director of Ford U.S. advertising, informed CNBC. “I think that as an industry we’re going to have to really think about how we don’t let them all kind of become the same. We were really cognizant of that with Bronco. We really wanted to do something special.”

Ford debuted the 2021 Ford F-150 throughout a pre-taped occasion June 26 hosted by actor Denis Leary (proper), a former pitchman for the truck.


Ford will unveil its new Bronco lineup July 13 throughout Disney’s media networks, together with ABC, ESPN, National Geographic and Hulu. Ford labored with Disney CreativeWorks, the corporate’s artistic company, to create customized three-minute movies for every community to debut the automobiles.

“We’re really optimistic this will be a unique way to do it,” VanDyke mentioned.

Ford has modified the date of the Bronco unveiling a minimum of thrice. Two in-person reveals earlier this spring, together with one for the Detroit auto present, had been canceled due to Covid-19. An on-line July eight debut additionally was postponed due to controversy concerning the occasion coincidentally coinciding with O.J. Simpson’s birthday.

Online reveals

Officials that plan reveals for automakers say there are value and logistical advantages to doing them on-line. But it additionally takes away from permitting folks to bodily contact and look contained in the automobiles like they’d at an auto present or personal occasion.

Many automakers lately have been holding livestream occasions with a stay viewers to broaden their attain.

“We’ve been working in the past on more encompassing reveals,” mentioned Joe Jacuzzi, GM govt director of model and product communications. “We’ve been kind of going in this direction for some time.

“Not that that is essentially to exchange a bodily reveal, however actually the chance presents itself for a a lot wider viewers the place we’re ready to attain out to our clients and sellers alike.”

The Bentley Bentayga luxurious SUV, Nissan Rogue crossover, Kia K5 sedan and Audi e-tron Sportback concept crossover will all be revealed online. Other scheduled vehicle debuts include a new electric crossover called Ariya from Nissan Motor and GM’s luxury Cadillac brand unveiling an all-electric crossover called Lyriq.

Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, automakers were already reconsidering how they unveil vehicles. Many had moved away from debuting a vehicle at an auto show. They instead would hold a private event and livestream it online for the public to view. Some expect that to continue when a “new regular is established.”

“For some of these merchandise which might be shifting to on-line reveals, it could show that is simply as efficient. But for some merchandise that want to make a much bigger splash and which might be extra essential in phrases of quantity and profitability and the modifications are greater, they might discover that they nonetheless want that they had a much bigger venue to be held in to reveal these,” IHS Markit’s Brinley said.

The only large-scale domestic auto show remaining for this year is in Los Angeles in November. Johnathan Lowe, chief marketing officer of the show, told CNBC that organizers are in “full planning mode, together with the event of correct protocols and procedures for the present.”

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Written by Business Boy


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