Sales of passenger cars in China fell 80 per cent in February due to the coronavirus impact, according to the China Passenger Car Association (CPCA).
The industry body did not give an exact sales figure, but earlier this month had reported that for the first 16 days of February only 4,909 units were sold, down from 59,930 in the same period a year earlier.
CPCA said although dealers were slowly returning to work after the lunar New Year shutdown, but said that showroom traffic remained very low.
It added that it expected February’s sales drop to be the year’s largest in the world’s biggest automobile market.
Individual manufacturers were also reporting hefty falls in sales for February, with Toyota reporting sales of 23,800 models, down 70 per cent year-on-year.
Rival car maker General Motors (GM) warned that the industry would face “serious challenges” in the first quarter this year, but that it expected the situation to ease thereafter.
Last week ratings agency Moody’s lowered its forecast for global car sales for 2020 due to the widespread disruption caused to supply chains around the world.
The ratings agency expects global automobile unit sales to decline 2.5 per cent in 2020, which is an improvement from 2019’s 4.6 per cent drop, but worsening from the 0.9 per cent decline that we had previously projected for this year.
China is expected to lead the decline, with a sales fall of 2.9 per cent expected over the course of the year, a substantial drop from the one per cent growth previously expected.
The forecast assumes that the coronavirus will be contained by the end of the first quarter, allowing normal economic activity to resume in the second quarter.