We are in the midst of a global epidemic, one which is likely to impact life in many ways as many manufacturers and employers are affected. However, what will this mean for the electric vehicle market?
We now know it as COVIC-19, a new and seemingly deadly virus starting to have a major impact on China and beyond, with a growing infection rate across the globe. However, in a world driven by Chinese manufacturing, what effect will this have for the Electric Vehicle industry?
One of the major issues is the many factory employees who traditionally travel home for the Lunar New Year. Many of the 300 million migrant workers are being prevented from returning to work as local governments seal off villages and mandate 14 day quarantines. In one factory where there would normally be almost 5,000 people, there were only ten.
The effects have already been felt in Europe, particularly in the automotive industry, with Fiat halting production at their main production facility in Serbia as it can’t get parts from China. This is the first time a manufacturer has had to pause production due to an outbreak of this type.
Of course, at this stage it is possible to dictate what may happen with the disease. So far the signs are positive. To date, nine out of ten people in the UK who had been diagnosed with COVIC-19 have been released, and there are rapid steps being taken to create a vaccine for the disease.
The impact on industry will very much depend on the length of the restrictions in China and also how widespread the disease becomes over time. With ‘just in time’ manufacturing, even a short breakdown in the supply chain can cause major issues as factories hold no stock of parts which are delivered on demand. Currently China is the world’s biggest exporter and provides most of the world’s automotive parts manufacturers.
The worst case scenario is the issue that affects more than just factories in the Far-East, if we do see more of an impact on factories in Europe we could see a longer term close down which will start to show an impact on car sales here in the UK.
At this time there will be a local stock of both vehicles and parts at UK dealerships which should prevent drivers encountering any issues at this time, however issues could occur if the situation worsens and the stockpile of parts in the UK reduces.
Here is the time when driving an electric vehicle will again have an advantage as, unlike traditional petrol or diesel vehicles, there are fewer parts which will require replacement and less to breakdown. We could feasibly encounter a time when drivers of traditional vehicles could be more directly affected with both shortages of parts and even potentially fuel supply if Coronavirus affects more areas of the world.
At this time, there is little to concern drivers of electric vehicles, however, and potentially we are in a better position in the case of an ongoing supply chain interruption.