GM Pivots to Building Ventilators, and More Car News This Week

How are you doing? As we move into the second month of the US’ coronavirus crisis, it’s the question that’s peppered every , text, and Slack message. Like most simple queries, the answer is often, “Well, it’s complicated.” Essential workers—like those who staff emergency rooms and grocery stores—feel fortunate to still have paychecks. But they must expose themselves to the possible infection, while Covid-19 -related public transit service cuts make it harder for them to get to work . Many gig workers, like those working for Lyft, DoorDash, and Instacart, are glad to not be sick. But many say companies they work for are not doing enough to protect them and society at large. The tinkerers at manufacturers like Ford and Virgin Orbit are excited to be part of the nationwide project to build more ventilators . But wouldn’t it be nice if their businesses weren’t also falling apart around them?

It’s been a week. Let’s get you caught up.

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Headlines

Stories you might have missed from WIRED this week:
  • Despite the pandemic, the Trump administration strikes its biggest blow yet to Obama-era climate change regulations and rolls back clean-car standards .
  • Inside the high-stakes race among US auto- and satellite-makers to build ventilators.
  • How much would the planet benefit if we just stopped flying ?
  • The startup trying to bring electric trucks to the masses .
  • A new breed of government officials wonder: How might cities build streets for people, not cars ?
  • Uber, Instacart, and the pandemic have exposed deep fault lines in the gig economy—and now people are working with renewed urgency to fix them.
  • How cuts to public transit have hurt the essential workers who need it most.

Question of the Week

Curbed published a thoughtful piece about the ethics of going outside in cities without much open space—and in cities where available open space has been closed to prevent the spread of the virus. We want to know: Are you getting outside these days? How are you doing it? Are you feeling weird or fearful about going outside? What could your city or town do to make it easier for you? Should they be making it easier for you? If you have thoughts, shoot them my way right here .

Stat of the Week: –12.5%

The drop in Ford’s US sales during the first three months of 2020 compared with last year, according to numbers the automaker released last week. Just a third of Ford’s 3,100 US dealerships are fully open during the nationwide Covid-19 crisis. All automakers are suffering: First-quarter sales were also way down at Toyota (9 percent), Fiat Chrysler (10 percent), General Motors (7 percent), Hyundai (11 percent), and Nissan (30 percent).

Required Reading

News from elsewhere on the internet: