Detroit Three signal cautious optimism for second half of 2020

Detroit’s three automakers are cautiously optimistic for the next six months after second-quarter earnings took a beating because of the coronavirus. Performance predictions hinge on specific conditions, but other actions signal a brighter future.

“We expect a much, much better second half,” Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV CEO Mike Manley said Friday during a conference call after the company recorded a net loss of $1.24 billion for the April-through-June quarter.

Uncertainty still abounds, and consumer sentiment fell in July amid increasing COVID-19 cases and as federal relief expires for the unemployed. Fiat Chrysler declined to provide updated guidance for the year, citing a lack of visibility. GM, meanwhile, expects an operating profit up to $5 billion — so long as U.S. sales total at least 14 million, production is not interrupted and it can increase inventory levels. Ford Motor Co. still predicts a net loss for 2020.

“We’re not out of the woods yet,” said Jessica Caldwell, executive director of insights for auto information website Edmunds.com Inc., noting major markets such as Los Angeles could face another shelter-in-place as COVID-19 cases rise. “You can say the worst is behind you, which is likely, but until there is a vaccine, the next year is still pretty questionable.”

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