The Covid-19 pandemic the world is facing now is unprecedented in both effect and reach. The coronavirus has single handedly forced billions of people worldwide into a life of quarantine, and many out of their jobs, while wreaking havoc in the global economy. The great cities of the world now look like ghost towns. Who needs an alien invasion?

Some say this could turn out to be the greatest recession since the Great Depression. The auto industry has been greatly affected, initially with forced shutdowns. Soon, hopefully, we’ll know the consumer appetite for new cars when Covid-19 blows over. Hopefully.

Now, some forecasters are offering some figures. According to LMC Automotive, global vehicle production is expected to fall more than 20% to around 71 million units in 2020, as a result of Covid-19 and the following recession, Reuters reports.

That decline translates to 19 million units in lost production this year, a drop that’s much greater than anticipated earlier in the year. The producer of market analysis and forecasts also warned that these projections could slide further, depending on how quickly major regions recover.

It points to North America, which saw most car plants close for the whole of April. There, carmakers have been forced to delay introductions or planned ramp-ups of several new vehicles, including the Tesla Model Y, the Ford Mustang Mach-E, and revamped versions of Fiat Chrysler’s Jeep Grand Cherokee and GM’s full-size SUVs.

According to LMC, vehicle sales will bottom out in April in North America and Europe, and post-pandemic recovery is “unlikely to be rapid” in the coming months. Europe has been hit hard by the coronavirus as well, especially in Italy and Spain.

A relatively bright spot in terms of vehicle production seems to be China, where SARS-CoV-2 first surfaced in the city of Wuhan. Factories in the original epicentre of the disease have fired up again, and most of the country’s plants are already churning out new autos. A sales decline of just 12% this year is expected in the world’s largest auto market, LMC says.

Will the global economy bounce back rapidly like a compressed spring after Covid-19 slows? No one seems to be betting on that happening right now, which means demand for cars will be subdued. Down by 20% and 20 million units – we’ll see what the aftermath is like.

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