New data on Friday gave the first concrete indication of how severely European carmakers were hit by coronavirus lockdowns, and it was every bit as bad as feared.
New car registrations in the European Union fell 55 percent last month compared with a year earlier, the European Automobile Manufacturers Association said, as dealers closed their doors and buyers were stuck in their homes. Owners registered 570,000 new cars during the month, down from 1.3 million in March 2019.
Sales all but evaporated in Italy, the European country that went into lockdown the earliest, falling 85 percent. Spain and France also suffered declines of around 70 percent.
Carmakers that depend on southern Europe for sales also suffered the most. Fiat Chrysler sales plummeted 77 percent. PSA, whose brands include Peugeot, Citroën and Opel, suffered a 68 percent plunge in sales.
German carmakers BMW, Daimler and Volkswagen fared marginally better, with declines of less than 50 percent.
Catch up: Here’s what else is happening.
Boeing will resume operations on Monday in the Philadelphia area, where it produces military aircraft such as the H-47 Chinook and V-22 Osprey. The work had been suspended for two weeks on April 3. On Thursday, Boeing said it planned to bring back 27,000 workers next week to facilities in Washington State to work on commercial aircraft production.
Walmart said that it had hired 150,000 workers since March 19, and it pledged to hire 50,000 more. The retailer said it had received more than a million applications since its initial hiring announcement. The new workers will be hired on a temporary basis, it said, adding that many had been furloughed from other companies and were looking to bridge the gap until they returned to their original jobs.
The organizers behind San Diego Comic Con, the annual pop culture celebration, announced on Friday that the event was canceled, the first time in its 50-year history. Fans who purchased badges can request a refund or transfer their badges to next year’s event.
Ford Motor said it expected to report a $2 billion loss for the first quarter, on revenue of $34 billion. The announcement came in a regulatory filing ahead of a full quarterly report on April 28. The automaker said earlier this week that its first-quarter wholesale volume was down 21 percent from a year earlier, mainly because of the outbreak’s impact on production and demand. It said last month that it was suspending its dividend and any share buybacks.
General Electric’s aviation leasing division said it was canceling 69 orders for Boeing’s troubled 737 Max jet, which has been grounded for over a year after two fatal crashes. Boeing received 150 Max order cancellations last month. In the first quarter, it took in four times as many order cancellations as new orders.
Procter & Gamble, the consumer products giant, reported a big jump in sales for the quarter as consumers stocked up on paper towels, toilet paper and diapers. P&G reported that organic net sales rose five percent to $17.2 billion. The company said increased shipments in North America and some parts of Europe offset declines in some Asian markets.
The coronavirus outbreak has brought China’s extraordinary, nearly half-century-long run of growth to an end. The country’s National Bureau of Statistics said on Friday that the economic output shrank 6.8 percent from January through March compared to the same period last year. It’s the first economic shrinkage acknowledged in official statistics since 1976, when the country was in the final days of the Cultural Revolution.
Reporting was contributed by Daisuke Wakabayashi, Davey Alba, Gina Kolata, Jack Ewing, Abdi Latif Dahir, Simon Marks, Karen Weise, Julie Creswell, Marc Tracy, Elaine Yu, Kevin McKenna, Nelson D. Schwartz, Kate Conger, Katie Thomas, Erin Griffith, Emily Flitter, Alan Rappeport, Brooks Barnes, Keith Bradsher, Amie Tsang, Geneva Abdul, Niraj Chokshi, Vindu Goel, Carlos Tejada and Mike Ives. Yiwei Wang and Coral Yang contributed research.