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The Coronavirus’ Effect on the Automobile Industry, Business and Industry Trends Analysis

The Coronavirus pandemic had a profound effect on the global automobile industry.  Vast shifts in where and how people work, as well as both business and personal travel habits, are impacting automotive usage, sales, maintenance, production and development.  By the fall of 2020, most manufacturers were struggling to keep up with demand after weeks (or even months) of factory shutdowns, while evolving personnel scheduling to maintain social distance between workers.
 More than ever, car and truck drivers are shopping for their vehicles online.  General Motors’ Shop-Click-Drive program (which offers online trade-in estimates and financing applications) saw purchases increase by 40% from pre-Coronavirus crisis levels.  Stellantis (formerly Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV) accelerated the launch of its online and driveway delivery service in early 2020.
During 2020 through 2022, auto dealers were unable to get enough new car inventory from manufacturers.  Not only did temporary auto plant closings, due to the Coronavirus, create new car shortages, manufacturers also had to face shortages of critical components, particularly the large quantities of computer chips that are embedded in the systems of modern cars and trucks.
The bottom line is that the Coronavirus era saw a massive reduction in new vehicles sales, both in mature economies such as the U.S. and Canada, and in global markets.  It could easily take until the end of 2023 for market distortions to be worked out and for the auto market to find a stable “new normal.”


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