The Friday Five:The Tesla in Tornado Alley, Grand Jeep Delay, Gazoo Racing Corolla Edition

Beverly Braga | Apr 17, 2020

This past week, we reported on ways that Hyundai, Mazda, Subaru, and Volkswagen are giving back to community during the coronavirus outbreak, how resurging car sales in China might predict a return to normalcy for the U.S., and additional details about hot new Blackwing-powered Cadillacs.

But that’s not everything that was happening in the automotive space.

Joplin, Mo. Proposes $1 Billion Package to Build Tesla Cybertruck

Last month, Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced that location scouting was underway for a new assembly plant to produce the brand’s upcoming Cybertruck. Although no specific cities were named—Musk only stated “central USA”—the Tesla rumor mill is hardly ever at rest. But before the anticipated bidding war could commence (as happens with any major company looking for a new location), an unexpected hand-raiser has jumped into the fray: Joplin, Missouri.

Tesla Cybertruck Cargo Bed

According to a dedicated section on the city’s website, Joplin has put together a package worth $1 billion in incentives and savings. Hoping to lure the luxury EV automaker, Joplin’s offering includes a 1,042-acre site that is close to major interstates and rail access, an established manufacturing workforce, leading battery technology know-how, and a hub for some of the largest trucking fleets in the nation.

The Joplin Chamber of Commerce has reached out to Musk via tweet. So far, no word on whether Joplin is on the short list. Tesla unveiled the Cybertruck in November with production slated to begin in late 2021.

New Federal Guidance Declares Auto Sales an Essential Service

Automotive News reported late on Friday that updated federal guidance considers auto sales and leasing an essential service during the coronavirus pandemic. The two activities were added to version 3.0 of the Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers Guidance document, issued by the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency.

The change is not a federal mandate to re-open dealership showrooms to customer traffic. State and local authorities will determine whether or not vehicle sales and leasing are essential to regions under their governance. But the adjustment does offer a glimmer of hope to car dealers, car manufacturers, and car buyers alike.

Remember, though, that consumers wishing to take advantage of the automakers’ generous coronavirus payment plans and programs can already, in most cases, buy online, sign paperwork digitally, and take delivery in a touch-less, properly distanced manner.

AutoNation Offers 25% Discount on All Parts and Services

For the month of April, AutoNation is offering a 25% discount on all services, including parts and labor, to assist those affected financially due to the coronavirus health crisis. Whether it be a routine oil change, tire installation, brake repair, etc., all vehicle makes and models are eligible.

As the largest automotive retail group in the U.S., AutoNation has more than 325 locations and sold more than 12 million vehicles last year. Stores are open nationwide, but availability is based on stay-at-home and other health guidelines from local governments. Be sure to contact your local retailer to ensure the facility is open for service appointments.

Jeep Announces Production Delays of 2021 Grand Cherokee and Grand Wagoneer

This week, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles informed suppliers that production of two all-new SUV models would be pushed back by three months. Based on a report in Automotive News, the 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee and new 2021 Jeep Grand Wagoneer may see a production start in U.S. and Canadian facilities on May 4 and May 18, respectively.

The 2021 Grand Cherokee is completely redesigned while the Grand Wagoneer three-row model makes a return to showrooms after a 25-year hiatus. Both Jeep SUVs are expected to go on sale in 2021.

A Hot-Hatch Toyota GR Corolla Could Arrive Stateside

Things could get racy for the world’s best-selling car. The Toyota Corolla, with more than 40 million sold globally (and counting), could get a hot-hatch version courtesy of the corporate racing team Gazoo Racing.

Based on industry rumors, a GR badge could grace the compact car in 2022 and sport the same 1.6-liter, 3-cylinder turbocharged engine in the not-sold-in-the-U.S. Toyota GR Yaris. That engine produces 257 horsepower and 266 pound-feet of torque.

Although all-wheel drive might not be available with the stateside GR Corolla, Toyota could offer a six-speed manual transmission to satiate enthusiasts.

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