COVID-19

FCA stepping up to produce face masks for first responders, health care workers

Aerial exterior view of the 3.3 million square-foot Chrysler Group's Warren Truck Assembly Plant (Mich.). The facility has been making trucks since 1938 and currently produces the Ram 1500.

Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) is used to making Alfa Romeos, Chryslers, Dodges, and Jeeps. Now, the company is transitioning to producing face masks in the wake of a call to action in light of the COVID-19 outbreak.

FCA has committed to manufacturing and donating more than 1 million protective face masks per month, starting in the coming weeks. The company says that this action is the first in a global initiative that has been developed by the company to apply manufacturing, supply chain, and engineering expertise to support the global fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

"Protecting our first responders and health care workers has never been more important," said Mike Manley, FCA CEO. "In addition to the support we are giving to increase the production of ventilators, we canvassed our contacts across the healthcare industry and it was very clear that there is an urgent and critical need for face masks. We've marshalled the resources of the FCA Group to focus immediately on installing production capacity for making masks and supporting those most in need on the front line of this pandemic."

FCA has not confirmed exactly which facilities will be used for the manufacturing.

Distribution is slated to be to first responders and health care workers in the United States, Canada, and Mexico.

The company will be working with national, regional, and city authorities to support distribution to ensure that the masks go to the people and families at highest risk for contamination.

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The Lamborghini Huracan EVO RWD is a fresh addition to the supercar company's lineup.

Photo by Jordan Golson

There's something about a supercar that is deeply enthralling. This is particularly true when that supercar is a Lamborghini Huracán painted in an outrageous matte purple called Viola Mel.

There's much more to a supercar than the price, but let's get that out of the way up front: My test car stickers for an honestly-quite-reasonable $278,516 after it was fitted with $66,250 worth of optional extras and an eye-watering $3,695 destination charge.

Much like the Rolls-Royce Ghost previously reviewed last week, the question of whether its "worth it" is entirely up to the potential buyer. Specifically whether or not they a: want a Lamborghini Huracán EVO RWD; and b: have $278,516 to spend on a wildly impractical 610-horsepower sports car. If the answers to both are true, then yes, it's worth it.

The car's Viola Mel color attracts a lot of attention.Photo by Jordan Golson

But first, the basics: Getting in the Huracán isn't easy. And I don't just mean coming up with a house worth of cash to buy one — I mean literally climbing in. I had to teach a few people how to do it and it goes something like this: Open door; put one foot inside the footwell; set butt on the door sill; slide butt into seat; bring other foot into footwell; close door. To leave, reverse it.

It's not an elegant process and doing it in anything remotely approaching a dignified manner is tricky. But, if you do it right, your car will be painted in that Viola Mel color and folks won't be paying any attention to your haphazard attempts to not fall over when exiting the car because they'll be too busy falling in love with the paint. That's a $16,500 paint job by the way, courtesy of Lamborghini's Ad Personam customization program and words fail when trying to describe how good it looks in person.

It looks so magnificent that people think it's fake. I brought it to the weekly South OC Cars and Coffee event — ostensibly it's an impromptu car show for all manner of car enthusiasts, but an awful lot of Lambo drivers show up to show off. There were at least ten Huracáns in attendance, including a spyder in what a Porsche enthusiast would call Miami Blue — but none garnered as much attention as the Viola Mel.

Storage space is at a premium.Photo by Jordan Golson

This is what owning a supercar (or borrowing one for the weekend, in my case) is all about. Except the paint job was so outrageously unique that nearly everyone thought it was a really good wrap, or temporary vinyl covering. It costs a lot of money to have Lamborghini paint their car in such a way that it convinces people that you put a wrap on your car. And then you get to explain that no, it's not a wrap, it's paint and here let me show you this sticker under the hood that proves it's an original factory paint job. There aren't many cars that could get me going about the paint for hundreds of words, but here we are.

This was my second Huracán, and the first was wildly uncomfortable. A friend that I gave a ride to still talks about how awful it was, and that was five years ago. I wasn't sure if it was because of the car or because of the seats — but it was a little bit of both. That one had the most hardcore racing seats Lambo offers fitted to it, while this one has the mid-tier Sport Seat ($7,500). They're fairly comfortable, as sports car seats go, and are manually adjustable which is good for racing but I might skip them and get the "base" comfort seats instead unless you're going racing, in which case go for the uncomfortable race chairs.

Enough about the look; now on to that 610-horsepower V10. I'm not usually one to get emotional about the good old days, but there is something really special about a giant naturally aspirated engine that's going to be lost from the world soon due to new engine and fuel economy regulations, not to mention the advancement of technology.

The engine fires up with a ferocious bark that rattles the soul like a bolt of lightning and happily revs to terrifying heights with the slightest twitch of the throttle. The start button, hidden beneath an absurdly wonderful red missile-launcher-esque protective cover, might as well inject dopamine directly into your brain in such prodigious amounts as to make you forget about the pandemic, the fact that Trump isn't President or that he ever was (your choice), and that Tom Brady has seven Super Bowl rings and you don't.

And that's before you aim that Viola Mel nose at the nearest interstate on-ramp and punch it, Chewie.

Troubles forgotten. Smile affixed. Life ain't so bad.

At least until you have to slow down because you're well into triple digits and you haven't even merged onto the highway yet. Still. It's a good day.

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The first 2020 Chevrolet Corvette Convertible off the line was auctioned for charity tonight.

Photo courtesy of Barrett-Jackson/Facebook

The United Way for Southeastern Michigan was a double beneficiary on Friday night. Proceeds from the sale of the first production 2021 Ram 1500 TRX Launch Edition and the 2020 Chevrolet Corvette Convertible benefitted the charity. The winning bid for the C8 Corvette Convertible was $400,000.

The Corvette Convertible traces its roots back to the original 'Vette - the 1953 model was only available as a rag top. The modern C8 Corvette Convertible engineered the hard top to provide a quieter cabin, increased security, and a cleaner look than previous convertible designs. It can be activated at speeds u pro 30 mpg and retracts in 16 seconds.

The roof is powered by six electric motors — a Corvette first. A body-colored roof is standard, while Carbon Flash metallic-painted nacelles and roof are optional.

A divider glass window in the middle of the vehicle can be power adjusted with the top up or down. In addition to the roof, the car as the same rear spoiler used on the Stingray coupe's Z51 Performance Package, resulting in identical drag between the coupe and convertible with the top up.

The chassis was tweaked for the convertible, giving the convertible nearly the same performance as the coupe.

Like the Stingray coupe, the convertible is powered by a 6.2-liter V8 engine that produces 495 horsepower and 470 pound-feet of torque. The engine is paired with an eight-speed dual-clutch transmission.

The 2021 Chevrolet Corvette Convertible has a $68,495 starting MSRP.

Last year, Rick Hendrick, founder and CEO of Hendrick Companies, placed the winning bid for the 2020 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray VIN 0001 at the Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale Auction. All proceeds from that sale benefitted the Detroit Children's Fund, a nonprofit focused on high-potential investments to provide Detroit school children the opportunity to receive an excellent education.

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