Automakers Aid Customers, Dealers Hit by Hurricane

Automakers are already assisting consumers and dealers in the Houston area after Category 4 Hurricane Harvey came ashore near Corpus Christi, Texas, on Aug. 25.

Automakers are stepping up with financial relief for auto lessees/owners plus large cash donations for recovery efforts, according to JD Power.

Ford Motor Co.’s fund is contributing $100,000 to disaster relief in Texas as well as matching American Red Cross contributions up to $50,000. On Monday, Nissan Group announced that it would give $1 million to Habitat for Humanity, which supports rebuilding of homes after hurricanes such as Katrina and Rita. A large recovery donation also was made by Enterprise Rent-A-Car.

FCA Efforts

FCA US and the FCA Foundation have also partnered with disaster relief organizations to support residents and communities affected by the storm.

The FCA Foundation, the charitable arm of FCA US, announced a total of $200,000 in grants to three disaster relief organizations that provide resources in communities across the country. Americares will receive $50,000 and First Response Team of America and Team Rubicon will each receive $75,000. All three organizations are currently providing disaster relief support to the residents of Texas.

FCA US, through its Motor Citizens employee volunteer program, is also partnering with Disaster Relief at Work (DRAW)  to collect cleaning supplies at the company’s Auburn Hills, Michigan Complex. The Motor Citizens will also help sort and package the supplies at DRAW’s warehouse in Waterford, Mich.

FCA US is also rallying its Southeast Michigan employees to Stuff A Semi, an initiative led by a group of local concerned businesses. Subsequently, the Houston Flood Relief Agency will ensure the donated toiletries, clothing and other essentials supplies are delivered to those in need.

Additionally, FCA US employees in Indiana are donating non-perishable food and toiletries to support the Midwest Food Bank Indianapolis, which will facilitate the delivery of the supplies to Texas.

Subaru of America Response

Subaru of America meanwhile announced a donation of $100,000 to support those affected by Hurricane Harvey in Texas and Louisiana, through its ongoing support of the American Red Cross. As a platinum member of the American Red Cross Ready 365 Giving Program, Subaru already contributes $100,000 annually to support Red Cross’ proactive response to disaster relief efforts. Subaru will also donate vehicles to the Red Cross at a later date to further assist in recovery efforts.

Furthermore, Subaru of America Foundation has enhanced its existing matching gifts program to establish a way for SOA employees to help support relief and recovery efforts in Texas and Louisiana. Through the program, employee donations to eligible organizations actively responding to Hurricane Harvey will be matched on a $2/$1 basis for this relief effort.

To assist Subaru customers directly affected by Hurricane Harvey, Subaru Motors Finance1 is waiving or refunding late fees for auto accounts through September 10. Subaru Motors Finance is also providing payment options if customers are having trouble making monthly payments.

Delayed Payments

Toyota and Lexus and General Motors announced similarly announced that they will offer customers in the region impacted by the storm options to delay and extend lease and loan payments. Other automakers are likely to arrange similar deferred-payment plans.

In addition, automakers are supporting 350 dealerships in southeast Texas that have closed their stores due to flooding, power outages, and destruction from Harvey, according to the Texas Automobile Dealers Association. The National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) states some 35,000 employees were affected in the storm’s aftermath, according to Automotive News. There are 500 dealerships in the Houston metro area.

Market Affects

Texas is considered the second-largest new-vehicle market in the country after California and the strongest light-truck market. Analysts anticipate that hurricane havoc will curb August new-vehicle sales by 2 percent, which happens around Labor Day sales events. In addition, there is flood damage to new-vehicle inventory-including pickups and SUVs. These vehicles will need to be replaced, which could boost auto sales later this year. About 360,000 new vehicles on dealer lots in Texas could be damaged from the storm, according to Edmunds. Losses from Hurricane Harvey could reach $30 billion, according to an update on CBS News MoneyWatch.

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