General Motors‘ Chinese joint venture, SAIC-GM, experienced a sharp decline in sales last month due to the ongoing coronavirus epidemic.
SAIC-GM reported sales of 7,612 units in February 2020 – down 92 percent from 97,177 units in February 2019. Chinese car sales were down 80% industry-wide last month, according to The China Passenger Car Association (CPCA). Some dealership employees returned to work throughout February following an extended Lunar New Year shutdown due to coronavirus, but the CPCA said showroom traffic still remains “very low” due to the situation.
SAIC-GM was among the first major Chinese automakers to report February sales. The company’s joint venture with VW saw sales plummet by more than 90 percent in February, as well, falling to around 10,000 units from 111,017 units in February 2019.
Toyota, which also released its February sales figures for China on Friday, saw sales fall by about 70 percent after reporting sales of 23,800 units between its Toyota and Lexus brands.
According to GM China president Matt Tsien, the company expects the coronavirus outbreak to cause further problems for the industry throughout the first quarter of 2020, but is predicting the market will level out sometime in the second quarter of the year. While the outbreak may have already derailed any plans for sales growth GM China had for 2020, Tsien is hoping the automaker can show year-over-year growth throughout the second half of the year.
As of this writing, there have been 100,778 confirmed cases of coronavirus worldwide, while just over 55,000 people have recovered from the sickness. The virus has killed an estimated 3,412 people, including 3,042 in China.
The coronavirus outbreak has caused other hiccups throughout the automotive industry. The 2020 Geneva Motor Show was called off due to the sudden outbreak of the virus in Europe, while GM was forced to pause production at one of its South Korean plants last month due to a Chinese parts shortage. Additionally, the UAW has warned employees at GM’s Flint Assembly plant that production stoppages in China could eventually lead to a parts shortage at the plant.