What Car Sales Look Like When You Can't Go Outside

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

Forgive us for mentioning the coronavirus, or whatever it’s called now, once again. As the highly infectious illness spreads in China (and now South Korea and Iran), a staggering piece of data shows what happens to a country’s auto sales when the one-party state won’t let citizens leave their home.

After wartime-like measures went into effect near the virus’ epicenter in late January, car sales nearly skidded to a halt. It seems the tens of millions of citizens barred inside their homes decided to use their one government-mandated outdoor foray every two days to seek out food and medicine, not purchase a gleaming new automobile.

Not that many dealership were open in some regions.

The China Passenger Car Association now says the country of 1.45 billion saw new vehicle sales plunge 92 percent in the first half of February. In the first week of the month, sales were off 96 percent. That’s 811 daily sales in a country with a population topping that of Europe and the United States combined.

“There was barely anybody at car dealers in the first week of February as most people stayed at home,” said CPCA secretary general Cui Dongshu, as reported by the BBC.

On Thursday, authorities in the hard-hit province of Hubei extended the mandatory work stoppage, which was expected to end Feb. 21, to March 11th. Nonessential facilities will remain shuttered.

Still, the association expects somewhat less sickly numbers in the second half of February, what with the easing of restrictions seen in the rest of the country. That easing could be dialed back at any time, however.

In the wake of the outbreak, some automakers have altered their sales model to get vehicles into the hands of customers. Among them auto giant Geely, which now allows Chinese customers to order a car online, with the vehicle delivered to the buyer’s front door.

It would be prudent for that buyer to apply a Lysol wipe to every square inch of that car’s interior, plus the exterior door handles.

[Image: B.Zhou/Shuterstock]

Steph Willems
Steph Willems

More by Steph Willems

Join the conversation
4 of 8 comments
  • Inside Looking Out Inside Looking Out on Feb 21, 2020

    If tiny virus causes so much panic I wonder what will happen when aliens (from other solar system) finally land in China.

  • Cprescott Cprescott on Feb 24, 2020

    Anyone who buys a car they can't test drive to see the real world impact on bad interior design is an idiot. Also the small details of ride comfort and handling effectiveness is a big thing. Back during January 2019, a test drive eliminated 90% of the vehicles I was considering because I hated driving them - awful interior sightlines to the outside was the number one thing - but awful instrument design and mediocre handling was another thing - plus road noise - more bit the dust.

  • Ted Lulis Head gaskets and Toyota putting my kids through college👍️
  • Leonard Ostrander Plants don't unionize. People do, and yes, of course the workers should organize.
  • Jalop1991 Here's something EVangelists don't want to talk about, and why range is important: battery warranties, by industry standard, specify that nothing's wrong with the battery, and they won't replace it, as long as it is able to carry 70% or more of its specified capacity.So you need a lot of day 1 capacity so that down the road, when you're at 70% capacity with a "fully functioning, no problem" car, you're not stuck in used Nissan Leaf territory."Nothing to see here, move along."There's also the question of whether any factory battery warranty survives past the original new car owner. So it's prudent of any second owner to ask that question specifically, and absent any direct written warranty, assume that the second and subsequent owners own any battery problems that may arise.And given that the batteries are a HUGE expense, much more so than an ICE, such exposure is equally huge."Nothing to see here, move along."
  • Roger hopkins The car is in Poland??? It does look good tho...
  • Kwik_Shift_Pro4X The push for EV's is part of the increase in our premiums. Any damage near the battery pack and the car is a total loss.