Plant Shutdowns, Vital Truckers, and More Car News This Week

Wow, it’s been a week. Thanks to the novel coronavirus, most US automotive factory workers aren’t working right now, including, beginning Monday morning, those at Tesla. Airport staff are seeing way, way fewer airplanes take off and land. Truck drivers are hauling supplies every which way as the country weathers the mother of all supply chain disruptions. The Navy is readying two hospital ships to help take care of the sick. Oh, and former Uber self-driving head Anthony Levandowski may go to prison for trade secret theft after reaching a plea agreement with federal prosecutors.

We’ll say it again: 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

  • As the novel coronavirus pushes demand for groceries and medical equipment, truck drivers are looking for guarantees that they’ll have places to buy a cup of coffee—and sleep.
  • Former Uber and Google self-driving program head Anthony Levandowski pleads guilty to trade secret theft, and may face prison time.
  • Covid-19 is bad news for the automotive industry, and even worse news for the electric vehicle proponents.
  • The Navy will deploy two hospital ships to help with the coronavirus response, but a surgeon who served on one of them doesn’t think it’s a great place to treat infectious disease patients.
  • Tesla’s Fremont factory fell into this week’s “shelter in place” order—and it turns out not to be as “essential” as CEO Elon Musk believed.
  • As commercial airlines see ticket sales plummet, some are using their passenger jets to fly cargo.
  • Here’s how Amazon’s sprawling shipping empire has reacted to the pandemic.
  • For the math fans in the back: How fast does a virus spread?

Heroes of the Week

Even amid city shutdowns and shelter-in-place orders, we’re hearing about plenty of transportation folk—bus drivers, truckers, cleaning crews, and airport staff—out there getting the people who still need to move from A to B. Hey! We appreciate you!

Stat of the Week: $16 billion

The emergency funding needed to keep American transit operating, according to a request to Congress from the American Public Transit Association. President and CEO Paul Skoutelas told congressional leaders in a letter that the nation’s transit systems would lose 75 percent of its fares and sales tax revenues between March and September, and that they would spend some $2 billion on extra cleanings for trains, buses, and stations.

Required Reading

News from elsewhere on the internet

social experiment by Livio Acerbo #greengroundit #wired https://www.wired.com/story/plant-shutdowns-vital-truckers-more-car-news