The crippling effects of the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak in China is trickling across several industries, but things could turn for the worse. According to a CNN report, China’s Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM) revealed that major car brands sold less than two million cars in January, corresponding to an 18% drop from the same period last year.

The big drop is undoubtedly caused by Covid-19, but the organisation said declines could be even steeper in February. It said the virus will deliver a “huge shock” to the car industry, causing a worse impact than the SARS epidemic did in 2003. At the time, car sales in China slowed to 13% in April 2003 and 8% in May, but it rebounded pretty quickly.

But Covid-19 came at a time of huge stress in the country’s automotive scene, further fuelling a slump which saw car sales in China dropped for 19 consecutive months. The virus has already claimed the lives of over 1,300 people and infected more than 60,000, but the car industry could fall deeper into recession, the publication states.

It has already disrupted China’s auto supply chain, with parts manufacturers and major car production plants being shut temporarily due to China’s sweeping quarantine measures to contain the virus. This, the CAAM said, could create a butterfly effect on the global car industry.

On a lighter note, several automakers have resumed factory operations. As of February 12, 2020, 59 out of 183 car factories in China have reopened, but experts worry that car plants around the world could grind to a halt if parts suppliers in China continue to remain shut.