Ford records $2 billion first-quarter loss from shutdown
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Ford lost $2 billion in the first quarter of 2020, the vehicle-maker reported after the markets closed Tuesday. And it expects to lose $5 billion in the second quarter as it deals with shutdowns due to COVID-19.
Like the rest of the automotive industry, Ford is dealing with shuttered production lines and slumping sales. Ford CEO Jim Hackett told investors that pulling the emergency brake on the global economy was impossible to anticipate.
“We didn’t realize there was an off switch,” Hackett said. “We knew it might go into a recession, more like a dimmer switch. But off?”
Since mid-March, Ford has had to shift its focus from building profit-making pickups to making face shields, ambulances and respirators.
One brighter spot for the company is that there is still demand for its bestselling F-150 truck, and dealers have been able to sell from their inventory, according to Jessica Caldwell, executive director of insights at Edmunds.
“A lot of people who need trucks, they need trucks regardless of pandemic or not,” Caldwell said.
Ford is going to start gradually bringing its European plants back online next week, with new safety procedures for workers. The company said that could provide a template for restarting in the U.S.
COVID-19 Economy FAQs
What’s the outlook for vaccine supply?
Chief executives of America’s COVID-19 vaccine makers promised in congressional testimony to deliver the doses promised to the U.S. government by summer. The projections of confidence come after months of supply chain challenges and companies falling short of year-end projections for 2020. What changed? In part, drugmakers that normally compete are now actually helping one another. This has helped solve several supply chain issues, but not all of them.
How has the pandemic changed scientific research?
Over the past year, while some scientists turned their attention to COVID-19 and creating vaccines to fight it, most others had to pause their research — and re-imagine how to do it. Social distancing, limited lab capacity — “It’s less fun, I have to say. Like, for me the big part of the science is discussing the science with other people, getting excited about projects,” said Isabella Rauch, an immunologist at Oregon Health & Science University in Portland. Funding is also a big question for many.
What happened to all of the hazard pay essential workers were getting at the beginning of the pandemic?
Almost a year ago, when the pandemic began, essential workers were hailed as heroes. Back then, many companies gave hazard pay, an extra $2 or so per hour, for coming in to work. That quietly went away for most of them last summer. Without federal action, it’s mostly been up to local governments to create programs and mandates. They’ve helped compensate front-line workers, but they haven’t been perfect. “The solutions are small. They’re piecemeal,” said Molly Kinder at the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program. “You’re seeing these innovative pop-ups because we have failed overall to do something systematically.”
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