car industry

The GM plant in Lordstown, Ohio, closed in 2019 as part of a massive company restructuring.
Tony Dejak / Associated Press

The state of Ohio is calling on General Motors to refund the state tens of millions of dollars in tax credits in reaction to closing the Lordstown auto plant last year.

Orbital Insight CEO Jimmy Crawford has, quite literally, a bird's-eye view of the U.S. auto industry

Using satellite images as well as anonymous cellphone location data, Orbital Insight tracks a wide range of human behavior — including key economic indicators such as how many people report to work at auto plants.

"We can just look at the number of cars in the parking lot," he said.

This spring, when the industry entered an unprecedented shutdown because of the coronavirus pandemic, "there was just nobody there," Crawford said. "Just really skeleton crews."

The Honda Marysville Auto Plant is shown, Wednesday, March 18, 2020, in Marysville, Ohio.
Tony Dejak / Associated Press

Assembly line workers at the Honda manufacturing plant in Marysville have some new colleagues: office workers. COVID-related staffing shortages at the plant have caused the company to require some of its white-collar employees to work on the line. 

The GM plant in Lordstown, Ohio, closed in 2019 as part of a massive company restructuring.
Tony Dejak / Associated Press

Ohio gave General Motors some $60 million in state tax credits for its Lordstown operation. Now the state's Attorney General is demanding the company pay the state back.

Ford is getting back to work. On Monday, the company brought 71,000 workers back at its North American operations: roughly 59,300 in the U.S., 5,300 in Canada and 6,775 in Mexico.

In the U.S., Ford plants are reopening in several states, but the biggest reopening is in four regions: southeast Michigan, the Louisville, Ky., area, the Kansas City, Mo., area and the Chicago area.

Workers on the Honda assembly line in Marysville, Ohio.
Steve Brown / WOSU

Honda re-started production at its facilities in the U.S. and Canada on Monday. That’s good news for a lot of businesses around Central Ohio.

America is starting its engines again.

Freeways and city streets have been remarkably empty for weeks. The coronavirus pandemic caused an unprecedented drop in U.S. traffic — total miles driven dropped by more than 40% in the last two weeks of March, according to data collected by Arity.

In some states, mileage eventually dropped more than 60% below what would be expected without a pandemic.

But for several weeks now, the same data shows that miles driven are starting to climb again. Driving remains well below normal levels, but is rising consistently.

Updated at 9:45 a.m. ET on Tuesday

Cars didn't change much between March and May. But the factories where they're assembled are shifting dramatically.

Honda's factory in Marysville, Ohio.
Tony Dejak / Associated Press

Ohio's manufacturing sector is able to reopen Monday, the next step in Gov. Mike DeWine's plan to ease business restrictions.

Manufacturing is one of the first sectors scheduled to open back up in Ohio and it can't come soon enough for the Cincinnati owner of Lordstown Motors, who says the company will begin production of the world's first fully electric pickup truck in January 2021. This is a delay from the original production date in the fall of 2020.

Japanese car giants Nissan and Honda are furloughing thousands of workers as North American auto plants continue to be shuttered because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Honda has extended closures through the start of May, covering auto plants in Alabama, Indiana, Ohio, Canada and Mexico, as well as other plants assembling engines and ATVs.

As the federal government takes a back seat in promoting electric vehicles some states, such as New Jersey, are taking the wheel.

There are nearly 1.5 million electric vehicles on U.S. roads today, according to the Edison Electric Institute. EV boosters concerned about climate change want even more and they say governments should help speed the transition away from internal combustion cars.

In this Nov. 28, 2018, file photo, snow covers the perimeter of the General Motors' Lordstown plant, in Lordstown, Ohio.
John Minchillo / Associated Press

General Motors has picked a site to build a new electric battery cell factory in Lordstown, Ohio, next to the site of a former car assembly plant it shut down last year.

An expansion by Fuyao Glass America will bring a hundred new jobs and $46 million in new investment to what was a GM plant in Moraine.

2019 Jeep Wranglers are driven off the assembly line at the Toledo North Assembly Plant, Friday, Nov. 16, 2018, in Toledo, Ohio.
Carlos Osorio / AP

A museum devoted the Jeep is expected to open in Toledo in 2022.

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