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File photo used for representational purpose. (REUTERS)
File photo used for representational purpose. (REUTERS)

Coronavirus: Under pressure, Chinese car makers eye online space to boost sales

  • Car sales fell by 90% in China due to coronavirus.
  • Car makers are offering special incentives to online buyers.
  • Test drives are being arranged at homes to ensure people don't have to visit showrooms amid virus scare.

With more than 95,000 cases of coronavirus reported across the world, people are increasingly being advised to take precautionary measures to maintain their health. One of the most widely advised measure is to avoid crowded places as much as is possible. In China, where the coronavirus originated, this has also translated to a drastic drop in footfall in car showrooms. Already under stress, the country's auto industry is now increasingly looking at going online to push up sales.

Geely, a major local player in the Chinese market whose parent company owns Volvo and Lotus, has been extremely active in the online space. The car maker recently launched the Icon compact SUV and claimed its filtration system can fend off coronavirus. According to reports, Geely is also offering what it has termed as 'contactless vehicle purchase system' where test drives can be arranged at homes after reservations made online. Payment and documentation are also being taken into the virtual world.

(Also read: Chinese car companies consider pay cuts to remain 'healthy')

Major global players like Tesla, Mercedes-Benz and BMW too have been pushing its presence online to bolster sales in China. BBC recently reported that several of these car companies are also coming up with special online offers and are working closely with dealer partners to ensure sales figures don't tank alarmingly.

But these already have.

According to various estimates, China's car sales are down by a mammoth 90% due to the impact of coronavirus in February of 2020. Several companies had to temporarily shut down their factories, especially in Wuhan which is the epicenter of coronavirus. Production lines have taken a hit which has led to disruptions for several global car companies.

(Also read: Chinese cities offer incentives to revive car sales after coronavirus outbreak)

With 21 million cars sold each year in China, the country is home to several local as well as global car makers. The impact of coronavirus, therefore, is likely to be felt not just in the sector here but around the globe as well.

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