Auto Expo 2020: Chinese automakers brace for impact of Coronavirus

Delhi Jan 29, 2020, 05.20 PM(IST) Written By: Sumit Chaturvedi

Completed Cars on a Factory Assembly Line. Photograph:( Getty )

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The Coronavirus scare can slowdown the Chinese automakers' drive in India

The stage was set for the big-bang entry of Chinese auto players in India. It couldn't have been a better debut for the Great Wall Motors of China, but the Coronavirus scare can slowdown the Chinese automakers' drive in India, and there are a couple of them this time. 

China's largest SUV maker, Great Wall Motors, is preparing for the debut of its India operations at the upcoming 2020 Auto Expo that will be held at Greater Noida from February 7 to 12. But the fear of Coronavirus epidemic getting worse is making Chinese automakers nervous too.

More than 20 per cent of the Expo’s 40,000 square meter exhibition area is for China’s companies. Chinese automakers are compensating for the absence of big Indian automakers from the biennial show including German carmakers BMW and Audi, Japanese auto giants Honda and Toyota and even American carmaker Ford. 

Feeling the likely impact on the auto extravaganza, representatives from the society of Indian automobile manufacturers are meeting health ministry officials to check on any extra precautions to be taken and arrangements to be made for the smooth functioning of Auto Expo including the need for thermal screenings, if required. 

Another Chinese automaker MG Motors, that has already made a debut in the Indian market with its Hector SUV and an electric SUV, could also be impacted by the Coronavirus scare. Though none of its executives is coming from China, many of the officials working in India are concerned about the health of friends and relatives back home. 

The Coronavirus scare, if continues, can impact the medium to long term plans of the companies, as well as, the decision making at the Chinese headquarter can slow down. 

The scale of Coronavirus is still not clear and can be compared to the post-tsunami damage of 2011 to Japanese automakers in India. The automakers were sourcing components from their Japanese plants back then and shutting down of Japanese plants post-tsunami had disturbed the production schedule of the Japanese automakers for weeks together.

Analysts say the next few days are very crucial as the extent of Coronavirus damage will be clear and will further determine its impact on Chinese automakers.