Coronavirus Outbreak Could Cripple EV Sales For Tesla And Nio In China

The Chinese auto market has been spearheading the global recession in automotive for two years now, with sales falling in 2018 and 2019 - and predictions of continued recession in 2020.

On the other hand, Tesla had been coasting into 2020 on the "success" of their newly assembled Shanghai plant, which helped tack nearly $300 onto Tesla's stock price in an weeks long epic short squeeze, despite the company not even commencing commercial production in Shanghai yet. 

But the one thing Tesla, and the Chinese auto market may not have been prepared for - coronavirus - could be putting a halt to the country's plans for an industry resurgence and Tesla's plans for - well, whatever they hell they're doing. 

In fact, Bloomberg reports that about 8 million cars were sold last year in the 40 Chinese cities that have 10 or more diagnosed cases of coronavirus. 

That represents about 36.8% of total retail volumes in the country. 

Bernstein analysts estimate that those cities account for 82.5% of Tesla's retail volumes and 68% of NIO's retail volumes.

"The latter looks especially vulnerable to a prolonged slump in EV sales," the note said.

"We expect EV sales in China to be worse hit than the broader market. Consumer adoption of EVs in China is highly concentrated in the top cities where license plate restrictions and other policies enforce EV puchases," the note continued. 

Recall, we wrote just days ago how the entire Chinese auto market was predicted to face "big downward pressure" heading into the New Year.

China's Miao Wei, Minister of Industry and Information Technology, predicted sales of just 25 million units for the upcoming year.

Sales for 2019 totaled 25.769 million units. Sales of just 25 million units would mark a third straight year of declines for the world's largest auto market, should Wei's prediction come to fruition. 

 

The MIIT also said it would further study and review its NEV vehicle subsidies. Beijing backing away from these subsidies caused NEV sales to taper off toward the end of 2019, sullying what was an otherwise consistent silver lining for the country, even amidst the overall recession in autos. 

 

We noted in December that NEV sales plunged 42% in November when Beijing backed away. 

China has said it is going to "maintain support" for NEVs, without getting into too much detail. Miao also said he's confident that the country will ensure "stable industrial production in 2020" while phasing out "zombie firms". 

 

As we noted days ago, passenger car vehicle sales in China fell yet again in December, plunging 3.6% to 2.17 million units, according to the China Passenger Car Association. 

This marks the 18th drop in the past 19 months for the country, which feels to be single-handedly spearheading a global recession in the industry. For the full year, sales in China declined 7.5%, marking the second straight annual decline.