Coronavirus / COVID-19 Information

Putting people first is our normal course of business.

When things aren’t business as usual, we’re here to navigate challenging and unprecedented times with you – together. The Holman Way of doing business guides us to treat our people, business partners, and the community at large with respect and care. That empathetic mindset is the compass guiding our collective response to COVID-19.

Auto Truck Group is considered an essential business. We continue to be fully operational and we’ve executed continuity procedures to support your upfitting and manufacturing needs without compromising the safety of our people. This includes transitioning our office-based workforce to remote workstations, and expanding flexible shifts to decrease volume and increase distance for onsite personnel.

On a daily basis, we’re engaging with industry suppliers and distributors to identify any possible service disruptions. We will continue to update this page with the latest information.

March 18, 2020 letter from Auto Truck Group president Pete Dondlinger

Upfitting Industry Update

Latest news on the impact of COVID-19

Auto Truck Group and our business partners are closely monitoring the impact that COVID-19 is having on our industry. We will continue to communicate directly with our clients, and we will update this page with new information as we receive it.

Last Updated: May 29, 10:00 a.m. EST

Our Bartlett location is now open.

All 10 other Auto Truck Group locations are open with regularly scheduled operations. The company is taking precautionary measures including having employees work remotely where possible, balancing shift operations to minimize the number of employees on duty at the same time, and applying the best practices published by the CDC.

As of this time, we are not seeing upfit schedules modifying to any significant degree.  If the situation changes, we will be sure to notify all affected customers and suppliers as soon as possible.  If an event occurs where we need to close a facility, we have contingency planning in place.  A location closing likely will impact scheduling and completing some vehicles in the proscribed time.  Our intention is to remain flexible as the situation dictates, prioritizing the safety and well-being of our employees.

We’re engaging with critical suppliers daily to identify any potential service disruptions. Based on the information currently available, the majority of suppliers are reporting business as usual under continuity measures and we are not expecting any significant production delays at the present time. If conditions change, we will quickly notify affected customers.

Our intent is to be as transparent as possible.  We will continue to update communications regularly.

Last Updated: May 29, 10:00 a.m. EST

  • Audi: Audi has resumed production of all models except the A4 and A5, which will resume production by the end of May.
  • BMW: BMW’s Spartanburg plant (X3, X4, X5, X6, X7) has restarted and production is back underway with a one shift model. The production scheduling group has been working to revamp the production schedule. Model year change-over is primarily at the end of July. Any new MY20 orders could be moved to MY21 production. BMW’s European plants have resumed operations with a reduced output. This impacts production of the X1, X2, MINI units, and sedans except the 3 series. Model year change-over is at the end f June, so they are already in build-out. Future orders will be MY21’s. BMW’s plant in Mexico (3-Series sedan except PHEV) was scheduled to reopen last week, however a late policy reversal by the Mexican government delayed their ability to reopen. The current plant is to reopen the first week in June.
  • FCA: FCA is resuming production at all North American plants except the one in Belvidere, Illinois on May 18. That facility will open June 1. The truck and van plant in Saltillo, Mexico resumed operations on May 11. Once production resumes, FCA will begin operation with one shift.
  • Ford: Ford has resumed production of the Transit at its plant in Claycomo, Missouri. Ford announced on May 27 that it was pausing production to conduct a deep cleaning after a worker tested positive for COVID-19. All other Ford facilities have reopened.
  • General Motors: General Motors reports that it cannot get enough parts to support a second shift at its plants in Flint, Michigan and Fort Wayne, Indiana right now. As a resume, the company’s plans to double production of pick-up trucks is delayed.
  • Honda: Honda of America Manufacturing resumed operations at a dozen plants in the United States, Canada, and Mexico on May 11.
  • Hyundai: Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama said it will resume full capacity production with a three-crew, three-shift operation during the week of May 25. The plant has been running one shift for processes such as stamping, welding, painting, and final assembly since May 4.
  • Kia: Production at Kia’s plant in West Point, Georgia will resume on April 27. The company originally stated that the plant was reopening April 13. The corporate office continues working from home.
  • Mazda: Mazda reports that production has not been severely affected.
  • Mercedes Benz: Mercedes Benz announced it will halt production at the car plant in Tuscaloosa, Alabama for the week of May 25 due to a shortage of parts. They plan to make up for the work stoppage later in the summer as the supply chain returns to normal. The van plant in Charleston, South Carolina has reopened.
  • Mitsubishi: Mitsubishi reports that all regional team members and employees at their North American headquarters are working remotely.
  • Nissan: Nissan said employees will start returning to work at plants in Decherd, Tennessee and Canton, Ohio on June 1. Employees will return to the facility in Smyrna, Tennessee on June 8. All three of these facilities will resume production in phases. The Infiniti Decherd Powertrain Plant resumed limited production on May 1.
  • Subaru: Subaru’s plant in Gunma, Japan tha tmakes the Forester and Crosstrek reopened May 11. Their US headquarters in Camden, New Jersey will remain closed through May 15.
  • Tesla: Tesla’s plant in Fremont, California resumed operation May 11.
  • Toyota: Toyota began gradually resuming production on May 11.Their service parts depots and vehicle logistics centers will continue to operate. They will continue to accept orders at this time. Headquarters employees are working from home.
  • Volkswagen: Volkswagen Group announced that its facility in Chattanooga, Tennessee resumed production on May 17. This facility makes the Passat, Atlas, and Atlas Cross Sport.In addition, the plant in Emden, Germany that makes the Arteon is open. The plant in Puebla, Mexico that makes the Golf, GTI, Jetta, Jetta GLI, and Tiguan is closed until June 1, and production of the Golf will resume June 8. Volkswagen Group resumed shipments of fleet courtesy deliveries on May 11, and all US ports are open. The company also provided updates on several manufacturing plants.
  • Volvo cars: Volvo resumed production at its plant in Charleston, South Carolina on May 11. Its plant in Torslanda, Sweden reopened on April 20. Volvo Car Americas commercial headquarters is operating remotely, including the Customer Care and Dealer Support Teams.

Prevention Tips

Safety Tips for Vehicle Operators

Vehicle operators are strongly encouraged to take the following precautions

Everyone should follow the guidelines published by the World Health Organization and US Center for Disease Control to limit the spread of cornoavirus and COVID-19. In addition to those recommendations, we strongly encourage vehicle operators to take these additional precautions:

Tips to Adjusting Upfit Strategies

Adjust your upfit strategy to roll with the punches

With the entire world feeling so out of alignment these days, you’d think every link in your vehicle supply chain would be taking a beating too, right? Here’s the good news – Auto Truck Group and other upfitters are operating at normal capacity or very close to it for now. How and when those conditions will change ultimately depends on other links in the chain, such as the availability of chassis and materials from other key suppliers.

So what can you do right now? Developing a short-term plan for your Q2 upfit orders is your best strategy for fulfilling your company’s immediate vehicle and equipment needs. Then you’ll need a long-term approach for Q3 that addresses your 2020 recovery plans and sets up your company for the 2021 ordering cycle.

Let’s walk through the order-to-delivery steps to understand where the industry stands now, and figure out where you may need to adjust your future approach.

Orders

Can you believe that 80 percent of all North American automakers stepped offline the third week of March? We’re all hoping that production starts back up in May, but the decision to reopen for each OEM depends on public health conditions and how the factories plan to provide proper health protection for their workforce.

Don’t panic, and definitely don’t throw out your 2020 replacement schedule. Use it as your new starting point, adjusting as needed to align with the fleet demand you’re seeing right now. Is it going up or coming down? Whatever it may be, you may need to move orders out, delay some deliveries, and be ready for even more sudden changes.

When the assembly lines get moving again, it’s been said the OEMs plan to build all the orders they got before they shut down, and fleet orders will be at the top of their work piles. You should know, there’s a chance that orders for 2020 models could get bumped up to 2021 models. If you still need your Q2 orders to go through, you may be thankful to take whatever year is available as long as the vehicle overall meets your needs. Think of this as a short-term solution – part of your recovery strategy. Then make plans to talk with industry experts about your 2021 selector, to make sure your orders for next year are spot on for your fleet needs.

 

Upfitting

So far, Auto Truck Group hasn’t felt a huge hit by the OEM factory shutdowns as we focus on custom orders or pool vehicles that were already in-house when the pandemic hit. But that can change if a key supplier cannot deliver critical parts for your specific builds.

In those cases, upfitters need to evaluate possible options, relying on their engineers to see what else can be done. Unfortunately, if there’s only that one solution for your truck, you might have to wait a

little longer. Aside from those one-off parts issues, until the standard inventory of vehicles, equipment and other materials dries up, building can proceed as planned.

So for the short-term, there’s still a possibility your new vehicle upfit needs can be met. However, if the factories do not reopen before inventories run out, that’s when you’ll feel the long-term impact. You may have to go back to the drawing board with your fleet partner’s engineers and analysts to sketch out a long-term plan for your new “not what I originally planned” normal.

In the meantime, you should be extra vigilant with your providers to fully understand what you are getting and when you are getting it. You don’t want any decisions to turn into unexpected surprises and the wrong vehicles and equipment. Everyone is coping with the disruptions, and it’s great when you can be flexible and patient right now, but you still need to retain as much of your business operations as possible. Your company is relying on you to keep the fleet strong through the recovery stage. If you need those specialized vehicles to get you there, hang in and push for what you need.

Delivery

Third-party transportation companies are stepping it up big time right now. They are grabbing what they can from the OEMS; they’re filling the void for railcars; they are working with upfitters like Auto Truck Group and also filling gaps for dealerships whose operations are iffy. With many new players in the supply chain, everyone’s intentions are good, but the communication chain can experience some hiccups.

Stay in constant contact with your providers! Track your vehicles through every stage of the delivery process and ask as many questions as you need to if things start looking off track. Yes, delays will happen, but keeping everyone’s expectations in check is the key to staying organized and in control.

The link holding the chain together

So many things are out of our control these days. Looking at the big picture, the state of the auto industry plays a critical role in North American economies. Everyone is anticipating the day that the OEMs will open their doors; for everyone it will signify a big step away from this craziness. Realistically, when that happens, a bottleneck will form, probably as Q2 rolls into Q3.

Your team at Auto Truck Group understands this and the challenges you’re facing with unexpected spikes or drops in your need for vehicles. Everyone keeps saying “we’re in this together.” You hear it everywhere, and that includes upfitters like us who are committed to supporting your personal and professional wellbeing.

Communication is the link that helps hold your supply chain together. We can help you manage short-and long-term goals by working seamlessly with your other fleet partners on your ordering, upfitting, and vehicle management needs. When we’re right in there with your FMC, you’ll get faster answers, avoid fumbling, and mitigate delays.

And, there’s an upside. Today’s coping techniques are setting the stage for a better tomorrow via rapid innovation. We are harnessing video call technology to speed up pilot reviews and design feedback sessions – and they cost a lot less and take up much less time than everyone traveling everywhere. We’re all going to emerge from the coronavirus as stronger, more agile people and companies.

What does the future look like?

It’s hard to tell how short short-term planning will last and when specifically we’ll transition to the recovery stage. The common phrase these days is “in stages.” Auto Truck Group’s Sales and Account Management teams as well as your ARI resources are here to support you so please reach out to us with any questions or concerns.

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