The full socioeconomic effect of the coronavirus has not yet been felt as the disease continues to spread. As of this writing, the outbreak has infected over 75,000 people, killing at least 2000. China is an integral part of the automotive ecosystem, and this will have a long lasting effect in all aspects of life, but particularly where the automobile is concerned.
Coronavirus has already taken the Chinese auto market down a peg, and caused the postponement (possibly cancellation) of the Formula E Sanya ePrix and the Formula One Chinese Grand Prix. The latest event to fall victim is the massive Beijing Auto Show, which has been postponed, currently without a definite date. It was intended to take place from April 21-30th, but that won’t happen. All of this has been confirmed in a release from the Beijing Auto Show on Monday.
The Beijing Auto Show is held every other year, alternating years with the Shanghai Motor Show. This bi-annual show has become one of international import, as many major automakers have used it as a product launchpad aimed at the largest automobile market in the world. With this massive marketing event postponed, and the Chinese market reeling in the wake of this disease, it’s likely that many automakers are falling on hard times right now as a result.
Analysis of the Chinese market predicted an annual drop in 2020 of around 2% over 2019, but January and February have seen extremely poor car sales and even poorer car production numbers in the country as factories have been temporarily closed to keep the disease from spreading further and many people refraining from leaving their homes for something as trivial as buying a car.
If automakers can’t reach Chinese consumers directly through events like the Beijing Auto Show, you can bet that sales will continue on a downward slope. Even if the disease was wiped out today and everything went back to normal overnight, the deferred purchases and outright lack of purchases would still contribute to an abysmal sales year.
We have not yet seen the full effect of the coronavirus on the international automotive market. But even with the limited scope which we have seen, it’s not looking good.