German car sales plummet as coronavirus restrictions bite
New registrations of cars on German roads plunged in March to its lowest in almost three decades, official data showed Friday, as restrictions to slow the spread of the coronavirus inflicted a heavy blow.
Sales tumbled 38 percent year-on-year to just over 215,100 according to data from the KBA vehicle licensing authority.
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"Necessary health policy measures, like the massive limits on public life, closure of car dealerships and limited ability to work in the licensing offices" had braked the car trade, the VDA carmakers' federation said.
Domestic demand fell 30 percent, while foreign orders were down 37 percent.
In a quarterly comparison, sales in January-March were down 20 percent year-on-year.
Major German manufacturers like Volkswagen, Mercedes-Benz parent Daimler and BMW have closed factories and placed tens of thousands of workers on government-funded shorter hours schemes to weather the impact of the coronavirus restrictions.
Chancellor Angela Merkel said this week that restrictions on public life would be extended to at least April 19, including a ban on gatherings of more than two people and the closure of many businesses such as restaurants.
Meanwhile the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) responsible for disease control said Friday the measures were beginning to slow the spread of the virus.
"We are seeing that the spread of the virus is getting slower... it's working," said RKI president Lothar Wieler, stressing that restrictions on public life "need to be maintained" and it was too early to claim victory.