Ford Motor stated on Thursday that its China vehicle sales in the first three months this year declined 34.9% from a year ago to 88,770 units, as the novel coronavirus epidemic hit demand in the world’s biggest automobile market.
The automaker said that nonetheless, all its dealers in China had restarted work and its sales in March had returned to 75% of the same period in 2019.
In China, Ford makes cars through Jiangling Motors, in which it has a stake, and a joint venture with Chongqing Changan Automobile.
Ford has been attempting to revive sales in China after its business started to slump in 2017. Sales sank 26% in 2019, after a 37% decline in 2018. In 2017, its China sales dropped 6% from a year earlier.
China’s auto sales declined 8% in 2019 and are expected to fall over 5% this year. Overall auto sales dropped 42.4% in the first quarter.
Sales of Ford’s larger U.S. competitor, General Motors, declined 43.3% in China in the first quarter.
About 82,719 people in China, have been confirmed as being infected with the coronavirus. The virus has killed 4,632 people in the country. Although these figures are heavily disputed and experts say the government has deliberately under-reported the figures.