Here is The News, We've Gone Viral

  Calvin Fisher


 24 Mar, 2020

Covid-19 SA Motoring Industry

Has the world gone mad? No, but it is quite sick, says Calvin Fisher.

I know, I'm upset too. Covid-19 has essentially evolved from punchline to proper problem, a worldwide pandemic. That's particularly scary in a world gone digital, where every nugget of information is broadcast online every few minutes or so. But what about us, the car afflicted, how does it affect you and me?

In countless ways both directly and indirectly starting with where we are driving to (work?), who with (social distancing), right up to the media we consume – here I refer to the host of events that have been postponed or canceled. Remember the Geneva Motor Show? Now add Formula One – cheers Australia and Monaco GP, in particular, and you can expect the rest to follow.

Even Lewis Hamilton is self-isolating since coming in contact with an infected few. More interesting than that, F1 is considering holding virtual races in place of real ones so, that’s weird. Superbikes, local racing and karting, WEC's 1000 Miles of Sebring and Formula E, and the list grows daily, knocked down like so many dominoes. Even my personal favourite, the Knysna Simola Hillclimb has been postponed to the end of the year. Maybe.

Heavens, even the Fast and Furious movies are on pause.

Of course, this affects all forms of sport and entertainment from sporting events to late-night television shows that have been cancelled or are running skeleton audiences and crews. The Olympics have a massive question mark hanging above it, the NBA is taking a break, as is the NHL. Locally the Cape Epic MTB stage race has been culled, as has the Two Oceans Marathon.

Our president has just announced a list of measures to flatten the infection curve which means you won’t be doing the school run for the next 4 weeks as they've been all shut down. I told you this affects us, motorists. Add to this the devastating effect it will have on small business owners and suppliers, as well as the hospitality industry. Vehicle manufacturing too will slow down, cars will be delayed if not canceled outright. Locally, BMW’s Roslyn plant is shut down for two months and again – we expect more to follow.

Internationally, the list of car manufacturers that have put production on pause is large and growing each day. Who knows what next month’s Naamsa figures will show. Now add to that the decimation of the Rand and you can expect import prices to escalate as well. Luckily we can still Netflix and chill but be warned, several shows have cancelled their production too.

On the bright side

Car launches have been null and voided, internationally and locally. In fact, Suzuki South Africa had to box clever recently when the launch of their new S-Presso micro-SUV (launch review over here - Carshop First drive: Suzuki S-Presso – Orange You glad?) went from a four-day, 80-journo affair to an online premiere to the press and public. This was done out of pure desperation but accomplished by a passionate team. The event was hailed a success despite being born in the time of a crisis. Yes, it is limiting doing things this way, but journalists were saved from being funnelled into virus-incubating aeroplanes, mixing with big crowds of strangers, spending time away from their families and so on.

The rest of country’s manufacturers have been similarly vigilant in their attempts to limit the spread of Covid-19 by doing micro-launches – such as the 'un-Corona Corolla launch' I'll be participating in this week. Then there's those hand-delivering fleet cars to members of the press, and indeed going fully digital so that we can still bring you all the new car news, from our comfort and safety, and ditto to yours.

Because until the world kicks this bug, nobody should need to leave their house for information, or entertainment for that matter. In fact, now might be a good time to read the back catalogue.

Stay safe, folks.

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