Automakers are mobilizing to provide assistance to customers and dealers in Texas caught in the devastating rain and flooding from Hurricane Harvey by offering payment relief as well as cash for the recovery efforts going forward.
“On behalf of Ford Motor Co., our thoughts and prayers go out to all of those impacted by this devastating storm. We know for certain that many dealers in the area have sustained significant damage. We are gathering information from local authorities and dealers so we can offer our assistance in the most effective way possible,” Ford said in a statement.
The Ford Motor Company Fund is contributing $100,000 to disaster relief efforts in Texas, as well as matching up to $50,000 in contributions to the American Red Cross, raising potential assistance from Ford to $200,000.
Nissan also announced Monday that it planned to donate $1 million to Habitat for Humanity. The money isn’t specifically designated for Houston and Texas’ Gulf Coast, the company noted that Habitat for Humanity has been very active in rebuilding efforts after other hurricanes such as Katrina and Rita, which struck the Gulf Coast.
(Hurricane Harvey could drench U.S. motorists with higher gas prices. For the story, Click Here.)
Meanwhile, the financial arms of Toyota and General Motors announced they are preparing to offer payment relief options to its customers affected by Hurricane Harvey.
This broad outreach includes any Toyota Financial Services or Lexus Financial Services customer in the designated disaster areas, Toyota officials said.
“We at Toyota Financial Services care about the safety and well-being of our customers and want to help those impacted by the hurricane. Impacted lease and finance customers residing in the devastated areas may be eligible to take advantage of several payment relief, including extensions and lease deferred payments, redirecting billing statements and arranging phone or online payments
(Click Here for details on how to avoid buying a flood-damaged car.)
The GM Financial website noted, “If you are a GM Financial customer and are affected by the recent hurricane, we can help. Please contact our Customer Experience team.” Other carmakers are expected to follow Toyota and GM’s lead.
Carmakers will also have to cope with the destruction of dealerships as well as millions of dollars of vehicles across East Texas. As many as 350 dealerships throughout the region have closed because of flooding, power outages or other damage from the storm, which made landfall as a Category 4 hurricane, said Bill Wolters, president of the Texas Automobile Dealers Association.
The Houston metropolitan area is the home to more than 500 dealerships and as the nation’s fourth-largest metropolitan area and major center for the sale of new vehicles. There are an estimated 1,300 dealers in Texas.
The roads into and out of Houston have been cut by flooding resulting from the heavy rain spawned by Harvey. But Harvey, which came ashore as a Category 4 hurricane, is proving to be a storm of what meteorologists are calling “historic proportions.”
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In some areas along the Texas coast, as much as 50 inches of rain are expected before the storm subsides. But the situation is being complicated by fears that what remains of Harvey – now downgraded to a Tropical Storm – may move back out over the Gulf, pick up new energy and strike land once again as a hurricane.