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Coronavirus Outbreak Could Impact American Automakers

Economists in Michigan say the coronavirus outbreak in China could harm American automakers.

The virus originated in the city of Wuhan, a major auto manufacturing site.


General Motors sells more cars in China than any other country, and the company was already seeing a slowdown in sales before the outbreak. 


“It’s a serious human calamity right now, and it has obvious effects on what humans do, including build and buy cars,” says Patrick Anderson, principal with the Anderson Economic Group in East Lansing.


AEG is watching how the virus is impacting people in China as well as in other places along GM’s supply chain.


“General Motors is essentially an American-Chinese company,” Anderson says.  “In fact, more than half of General Motors vehicles have been produced and sold in China…more than any other country.  The Chinese portion of the General Motors operation is strongly affected.”


Anderson says very few passenger vehicles sold in the U.S. are assembled in China.


However, he says, many battery electric vehicle drivetrains are made in China for cars sold in the U.S. by GM, Ford and others.


02/10/20 11:22 a.m. Editor's Note: The original version of this story incorrectly stated that the GM plant in Wuhan had been evacuated and operations had shut down. The plant had actually closed for a national holiday. We regret this error.





Kevin Lavery is a general assignment reporter and occasional local host for Morning Edition and All Things considered.
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