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Detroit Automakers Better Positioned for COVID-19 Recovery Than During Great Recession

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Image credit: Carles Rabada/Unsplash

The Detroit Regional Chamber cites an uptick in new vehicle production toward the end of 2020 as an encouraging sign for the auto industry going forward.

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New vehicle assembly lines around Michigan slowed to a halt last March, as the impact of the COVID-19 virus was felt around the country. Now almost one year later, the Detroit Regional Chamber says Michigan’s auto industry is better positioned to bounce back from the pandemic than it was from the 2008 recession.

They took a big punch in March and April, but by May and June they were really roaring back.” — Sandy Baruah, Detroit Regional Chamber President and CEO

One major problem for the automotive sector during the Great Recession was that when new vehicle volume dropped it was not able to recover. However, Detroit Regional Chamber President and CEO Sandy Baruah says it was a different story for automakers in 2020.

They took a big punch in March and April,” says Baruah, “but by May and June they were really roaring back. And the other difference is that consumer demand never went away.”


Listen: The Detroit Regional Chamber’s Sandy Baruah talks about how a healthy automotive industry is key to a healthy Michigan.


Baruah does warn that the global shortage of semiconductors, also referred to as microchips, could impact the auto industry’s ability to meet demand this year.

Supply is going to be constrained because of the semiconductor crisis,” says Baruah, ”probably until, my guess is, summer. And that’s going to curtail production numbers.”

Baruah says Detroit’s automakers were able to sell more than 14 million new cars and trucks in 2020. He says that’s despite projections around April of last year that the industry wouldn’t reach 9 million in vehicle sales.

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Alex McLenon, Associate Producer

Alex McLenon is an Associate Reporter/Producer with 101.9 WDET. McLenon is a graduate of Wayne State University, where he studied Media Arts & Production and Broadcast Journalism.

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