NEW YORK, NY – As the ongoing coronavirus outbreak continues to touch upon nearly every aspect of Amerian life, new vehicle sales have recently been reported to have hit a record low according to Edmunds, an online resource for automotive information.
April in particular is forecast to be the worst month in three decades in terms of new vehicle sales, analysts predict, saying that approximately 633,260 stand to be sold when all of the tallies are taken; this would represent a year-to-year drop in sales of 52.5 percent over April 2019, and a decrease of 36.6 percent from March 2020. The last time sales dipped this low, according to experts, was in 1990, with the second-lowest point before that occurring in 2009.
Originally, 2020 was expected to be below recent years in terms of sales, but still boasting strong figures indicative of a growing industry responding to a strong economy. However, numbers that were previously forecast to hit as many as 17 million sales could possibly plummet to as low as 12 million, which is as low as they were during the mid-2000’s recession.
Sales are being impacted by a variety of factors related to the coronavirus pandemic, which has had a tremendously harsh impact upon the economy. In an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19 – the respiratory disease caused by coronavirus exposure that has infected 1 million Americans and killed nearly 62,000 as of this writing – lawmakers in 39 states have passed ordinances that include the closure of non-essential businesses, stay-at-home orders, and strict social distancing mandates that affect 265 million people, or 80 percent of the country’s populace.
As a result, millions nationwide are either experiencing reduced income or unemployment, and the economy – which was until recently strong and on an upward swing – in near tatters.
In addition, numerous automotive-related industries are feeling the pinch from the pandemic as well, such as car rentals and ride-sharing services such as Uber and Lyft, who are currently laying off and furloughing scores of current employees as their business drops through the floor. With stay-at-home orders in place, all entertainment venues closed, and non-essential personnel – the ones that actually got to keep their jobs – dictated to work from their residences, much of the U.S. population simply has nowhere to go these days.
In an effort to stabilize the industry and provide a much-needed boost to sales amid the economic distress caused by the pandemic, automakers are quickly putting together car payment programs to assist consumers looking to buy a vehicle who may be experiencing their own financial woes.
Programs include a number of different relief options, with Hyundai Motor America offering to make up to six months of payments for new vehicle owners who find themselves out of work and have purchased or leased their vehicle between March 14 and April 30. General Motors is offering buyers who meet certain criteria deferred payments for up to 120 days and interest-free financing for 84 months. Ford is offering a variety of incentives that would see buyers not having to make any payments for the first six months on eligible models.
Other automakers who have announced coronavirus-related car payment programs include Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, American Honda, Kia Motors America, Nissan North America, Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A, and Volkswagen of America. Other manufacturers are said to be looking to follow suit as well, reports say.
In addition, consumers are being advised to contact their lending institutions directly to see if they are offering any opportunities to amend or defer payments while the current national health crisis continues.
However, news that stay-at-home ordinances will likely be eased in May in an effort to return citizens to life as normal – and help the economy recover – means that April is likely to be as bad as it gets in terms of new vehicle sales, with the only way being up from there. The incentives that dealerships and manufacturers are offering should help to drive business their way and give sales a boost in May and June, as some of the deals being offered are the best in years.
But experts caution that opening up the country too quickly could almost certainly result in a second coronavirus outbreak, followed by yet another extended period of quarantine that is sure to do as much, if not more damage to the economy – including auto sales – than the first.