A Mercedes-AMG car displayed at the stand of Mercedes-Benz during the 23rd Shenzhen-Hong Kong-Macao International Auto Show last June. Photo: AFP

As the effects of the novel coronavirus outbreak bite, China’s car market could shrink up to seven percent year-on-year in 2020, Germany’s VDA manufacturers’ association said Thursday.

“It was a weak start to the year,” VDA president Hildegard Mueller told a Berlin press conference, noting that sales in the first two weeks of February were down 92%.

“Even before the coronavirus crisis, we expected a fall of 2% in the Chinese market, and we are now assuming a scenario with a drop of up to 7%,” Mueller added.

“We shouldn’t expect a quick recovery.”

China’s CPCA carmakers’ group judged the fall in deliveries could mount as high as 70% year-on-year in February, and 40% in January-February combined.

“The coronavirus is freezing the world’s biggest car market,” German industry expert Ferdinand Dudenhoeffer said.

Production dips arising from supply shortages “can be caught up,” Dudenhoeffer predicted, but “the fall in economic growth and demand will persist.”

With 35% of German carmakers’ worldwide sales stemming from China, a weak market there presents “major risks,” the professor said.

Sales in China had already slumped 10% last year under the effect of trade wars with the United States.

Looking to the worldwide market, Germany’s VDA sees car sales falling 3% in 2020, while credit rating agency Moody’s predicted 2.5%.