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Online lifeline sought as coronavirus impacts car sales in China

online sales

Car manufacturers are turning to online sales in China a bid to mitigate the impact of coronavirus following a 92% decline in business during the first half of February.

The BBC reported yesterday (February 27) that Geely had become the latest OEM to launch a new online service in the country as the impact of the virus was felt by the retail sector.

The China Passenger Car Association (CPCA) said there was "barely anybody at car dealers in the first week of February as most people stayed at home" in a damaging blow to car manufacturers keen to drive volume in what is the world’s largest new car retail market.

News of coronavirus’ impact on car retail in China is the latest blow to an automotive sector already battling to maintain effective supply chains in regions affected by the outbreak, with the Geneva Motor Show 2020 also expected to be cancelled by organisers this morning (February 28).

In what Geely has marketed as a fully "contactless" vehicle purchasing service, China's largest privately-owned car maker will also offer test drives without potential customers needing to visit the showroom.

Mercedes-Benz, meanwhile, told the BBC that it was working closely with its Chinese dealer partners to support its online channels.

Frost & Sullivan managing partner, Sarwant Singh, said that the coronavirus would “provide impetus to digital retailing for cars".

"As witnessed in China the postponement of purchase decision is encouraging vehicle manufacturers to redirect resources towards online marketing and e-commerce platforms," he said.

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