COVID-19 is having a profound impact on auto manufacturing, as carmakers pause vehicle production in a bid to protect workers from infection and respond to a predicted drop in sales.
However, as far as dealership closures go, most brands are leaving it to individual stores to decide whether to remain open, respecting the fact that most car dealers are private businesses. In Ontario, car dealerships have been deemed an essential service.
Infiniti Canada announced via Twitter that some of its stores have closed, and advised consumers to contact their dealer to see whether they're still doing business.
In response to our inquiry, LouAnn Gosselin, head of communications for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles Canada, passed along a note from Reid Bigland, the company's U.S. sales boss.
"Our FCA dealers are continuing to sell vehicles and provide services throughout the U.S. and Canada," Bigland said. "We have asked all of our dealers to take any necessary steps to protect their workers and customers amid the spread of the coronavirus. All decisions regarding the operation of dealerships and showrooms rest with the dealers since they are independent business owners. Any questions regarding a dealership should be directed to the specific dealer. We will continue to monitor the situation."
All that said, here are the Canadian new vehicle arrivals we can tell you about for April.
2020 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid
In April, Canada's Hyundai dealers will begin receiving the latest Sonata Hybrid, a gas-electric version of the brand's stylish seventh-generation family sedan. It follows the conventionally powered Sonata, which went on sale in January.
While a hybrid sedan is hardly a new concept, the Sonata Hybrid stands apart for its use of optional roof-mounted solar panels that help charge the car's battery. Hyundai says six hours of sunny-day charging will add about three kilometres of driving range; in the unlikely event of a year without cloudy skies, that would add up to more than 1,100 km over 365 days.
After the car converts sunshine to electricity, it will feed the electric motor that works alongside a 2.0L gas engine to produce 192 hp. When the car is off and parked, some of the solar power will also support the car's 12-volt battery to keep it from draining due to use of the infotainment and HVAC systems.
Beyond the obvious drivetrain differences that set the Sonata Hybrid apart from the standard model, the gas-electric version gets a number of aerodynamic additions to reduce wind resistance. Those changes include a special front bumper lip, wind deflectors at all wheels, and under-body covers front to back.
2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer
A familiar name returns to the Chevrolet lineup in April, but on a much different vehicle than the mid-size SUV it was originally used on in the 2000s.
The Trailblazer is a small crossover that Chevy says fills a gap between its existing Trax and Equinox models, as well as the space left behind when the brand cut the Cruze compact car from its lineup last year.
Chevrolet borrowed the Trailblazer's underpinnings from another General Motors small SUV, the Buick Encore GX, which went on sale last month. That means all Trailblazer models use three-cylinder turbo engines. Base models get a 1.2L engine that makes 137 hp and 162 lb-ft of torque, and comes with a continuously variable transmission (CVT) and front-wheel drive. The upgrade is a 1.3L good for 155 hp and 174 lb-ft, which is also matched with a CVT, but adds all-wheel drive.
Chevrolet will offer the Trailblazer in LS, LT, Activ, and RS trim levels. The automaker hasn't revealed pricing or the full lists of standard features, but we know the LS trim will include forward collision and pedestrian alert, automatic emergency braking, automatic high beams, lane-departure warning with lane-keep assist, and a rear-seat reminder. Dressing up the exterior are 17-inch aluminum wheels and LED daytime running lights.
To that list, LT trim will add blind-spot monitoring, cross-traffic alert, and rear parking proximity sensors, along with the convenience of heated seats and fog lights.
Activ trim's main additions are a two-tone roof treatment (similar to that on the Hyundai Venue and Nissan Kicks), all-terrain tires, and leatherette seats. RS trim also gets a contrasting roof, a flat-bottom steering wheel, and 18-inch wheels.
2020 Cadillac CT4
April's arrival of the Cadillac CT4 completes the luxury brand's rollout of its latest sedan lineup. This compact model follows March's launch of the larger CT5.
The CT4 replaces the ATS subcompact and, along with the larger CT5, will soon be the brand's only sedan models with the elimination of the CT6 full-size car.
The CT4 comes in Luxury, Premium Luxury, Sport, and CT4-V trims. The first three use a 2.0L turbocharged four-cylinder engine with 237 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque, while the V-Series starts with a 2.7L that makes 325 hp and 380 lb-ft in the CT4-V. The 2.7L is also optional in Premium Luxury trim, in which it makes 310 hp and 350 lb-ft.
The 2.0L is matched with an 8-speed transmission, and the 2.7L comes with a 10-speed. Rear-wheel drive is standard and AWD is an option.
Luxury models ($35,798) come standard with an 8.0-inch infotainment screen, passive keyless entry and push-button engine start, an eight-speaker stereo, heated front seats, a heated steering wheel, 17-inch wheels, and LED headlights and taillights. Also standard are forward-collision alert and tire-pressure monitoring.
Premium Luxury trim ($38,798) adds automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, ventilated front seats, and 18-inch wheels.
Sport ($38,798) gets a trim-specific body kit, Brembo front brakes, a performance steering wheel with paddle shifters, 18-way adjustable front seats, and aluminum pedals.
Finally, the CT4-V ($45,398) gains a performance suspension, a limited-slip rear differential, a 14-speaker stereo, and wireless smartphone charging.