How NCOV factory shutdowns will affect Singapore buyers (updated)

So far the industry says business as usual, but we think Singaporean car buyers could see delivery or parts delays in 2020

  • This is a developing story and will be continuously updated.
  • Updated: Marc 30, 2020 – Japan may face lockdown, Europe extends factory shutdowns
    Updated: March 27, 2020 – China factories restart, Komoco responses added
    Updated: March 26,2020 – Thailand lockdown announced, Japan situation evolving
  • Updated: March 25, 2020 – Global supply chain insights, Mazda adjusts production
  • Updated: March 24, 2020 – Toyota shuts down one line in Japan, Honda (Kah Motor) says all local deliveries unaffected.
  • First published: March 21, 2020

Now that the novel coronavirus (2019-NCOV) has hit the rest of the world, numerous carmakers have announced factory shutdowns both as a response to falling demand and as a preventative measure. 

As named in our Shutdown List (scroll down or click here), most of Europe is shutting down car production for the next two to three weeks at least.
UPDATE March 30: VW and FCA have extended shutdown to April 4, Toyota will not resume European production before April 20.

Some will only resume production in April or later, although with the entire NCOV situation everything is still touch and go. 

Pretty much every European car factory has been shuttered from now til mid-April

The summary: All of European car production has been shut down except for small-volume makers, North America is following suit, although its output is not as relevant to Singapore since very few US-made cars come here.

The good news is that so far it seems to be business as usual for Japan, Thailand, and South Korea, meaning buyers or owners from mainstream brands may not be affected.

That situation is changing, however. Currently Japanese carmakers are adjusting their output continuously. Toyota chairman Akio Toyoda quoted to Reuters: ” At this point, we can’t foresee what’s ahead for automakers.”

UPDATE March 30 – Honda has stopped its car production in Thailand from March 27 to April 30.

UPDATE March 27 – With COVID seemingly under control, and a ban on foreign entries, China has restarted automotive production. With China having ‘lead the way’ in COVID, there is at least a bit of optimism here.

UPDATE: March 26 – Thailand announces its lockdown, Japan may announce an emergency declaration soon.

UPDATE: March 25 – Mazda yesterday announced partial production shutdowns at its Hofu and Hiroshima plants (see below), as well as Mexico and Thailand.

UPDATE: March 23 – Toyota has shut down one line at a factory in Toyota City in Japan until March 25, after two workers tested positive for NCOV. The line makes Corolla sedans. Singapore’s Corollas are made in Thailand so they won’t be affected, but the line also makes the RAV4 and Harrier SUVs, which are exported to Singapore.

While South Korea seems to have its COVID situation under control, cases are still on the rise in Japan and in fact the country is reducing some of its measures. Cases are also still on the rise in Thailand with the country just announcing lockdown on March 25.

CarBuyer has contacted most of the major brands and dealership groups in Singapore to ask them to comment on possible delays for customers – you can see those below.

“….dealers have enough stock on hand, while none of the major mainstream East Asian brands seem to be majorly affected – yet. ”

The summarised version is that dealers have enough stock on hand, while none of the major mainstream East Asian brands seem to be majorly affected – yet.

But from a professional perspective, we say that buyers of Continental vehicles can possibly expect to see delivery delays in future.

Buyers and car owners should expect delays (emphasis ours) in deliveries or parts in the near future. It’s very clear that COVID has already affected the global supply chain – Automotive News has called the China situation a ‘global supply chain shock‘ but automotive supply has a one to two month lag, or more, depending on the market, so the delays for us in Singapore are perhaps just on the horizon.

As some companies have pointed out, there’s usually a buffer of existing stock to help meet demand. But if the long the shutdowns run of course, the stock dwindles and that’s when delays happen.

Additionally, it’s not just new cars that will be affected, since some automotive suppliers are also shuttering their factories for the time being. That affects new cars – the situation in China in January already created production delays – and also the supply of spare parts too.

With many dealers adopting split-team and more work-from-home initiatives, some may have leaner staffing situations now and service or delivery may take longer.

Note that we’re using a lot of weasel words here, that’s because we cannot be 100 percent certain of anything at this point (who can, really, in this situation) but at CarBuyer we believe in giving you the full picture where possible. 

The Official Line

CarBuyer has reached out to all the major car distributor/dealerships in Singapore asking for information on the situation

Borneo Motors – Lexus, Suzuki, Toyota 

“At the moment, we are not experiencing any delays in car or parts delivery, and therefore it is still business as usual.” 

BMW Group Asia – BMW, Mini, Rolls-Royce

BMW Group Asia MD Christopher Wehner

Mr Christopher Wehner, Managing Director, BMW Group Asia.
Will customers experience any delays in delivery?

In preparation for the impact of COVID-19, BMW Asia increased stocks in order to meet customer demand. In Singapore, both Performance Motors Limited and Eurokars Habitat are in full operation with the necessary health and safety measures in place. We will do our best to continue delivering products to our customers in a timely manner with a premium experience.

What about future orders?

BMW AG has begun to shut down its European plants as well as Plant Rosslyn in South Africa. These will close by the end of the week, and the interruption of production for these plants is currently planned to run until April 19. At this time it is difficult to evaluate how future orders will be impacted. This will depend on demand in the coming months, as well as deliveries from our production plants in Europe. We are closely monitoring the situation, and will react quickly and flexibly.

How long do you see this situation lasting?

Any long-term effects on deliveries due to COVID-19, and the associated volatility of the financial markets, cannot be assessed at this time. BMW AG and our office in Singapore will continue to monitor the situation closely, and will keep our employees and partners updated regularly. The BMW Group knows how to manage difficult situations, and we have proven this many times in the past. 

Cycle & Carriage: Citroen, DS, Kia, Mercedes-Benz, Mitsubishi in Singapore 

“So far we have no delays and are on schedule for all deliveries, despite Business Contingency Plans being activated for sales and vehicle preparation teams. From what we can see now, there shouldn’t be any delays for future orders. Unless more disruptions come our way, which is something we cannot see at the moment.” 

Eurokars Group: MG, Mazda, Mini, McLaren, Porsche, Rolls-Royce

Mr Shaun Domoney, Chief Operating Officer, Eurokars Group

“At this point in time, we are not expecting any major impact based on our planned deliveries across all the brands that we represent despite temporary closure of the production facilities of various brands. However, as new developments related to the coronavirus are emerging and evolving dynamically at a rapid rate across the world, we will continue to monitor the local and global situation closely. What’s very important at the moment is to ensure that our employees and customers are safe and healthy.” 

Honda (Kah Motor)

It says all deliveries are currently on schedule and there are no delays yet.

Komoco Group – Ferrari, Hyundai, Jeep, Harley-Davidson, Maserati

Statement: “Our business runs as usual. All our brands are not affected on car distribution. We are able to cater to immediate bookings, and delivery as per normal. Our future orders and deliveries remain unaffected.”

Nissan Asia Oceania 

Is there any delay on current Singapore customer deliveries?

“There is minimal impact, as the UK plant has shut down and (dealer/distributor) Tan Chong Motor Sales has enough Qashqai inventory for market demand.”

Are any plants in Japan and Thailand affected?

In Japan, we are planning or have carried out temporary production adjustments at certain plants. There has been no impact on our other plants outside China, including Thailand. We continue to monitor the situation.

Will the supply of parts be affected also?

We do not have clarity yet on the impact of the new coronavirus. The wellbeing of our employees, our business partners and our communities is our highest priority.

Volkswagen Group Singapore : Skoda, Volkswagen

Mr Ricky Tay, Managing Director, Volkswagen Group Singapore

VGS has sent out a letter to owners stating there could be possible delays due to working plans, rather than parts or production delays.

Responses from Mr Ricky Tay, Managing Director, Volkswagen Group Singapore.

Will customers experience any delays in delivery?

 Despite the shutdowns in Europe, we have assurance from our headquarters that business plans will be carried out wherever possible and that projects will continue as much as possible, to make sure there is minimal disruption in deliveries to our customers.   

In Singapore, VGS has implemented precautionary measures including work-from-home and split team arrangements to safeguard the wellbeing of our staff and that of our customers. Some of our frontline representatives and backend operations may not be at full capacity. Nonetheless, our teams are working hard and navigating all options to ensure we deliver our promise to customers as timely as possible.  

What about future orders?  

Currently, the Volkswagen brand has taken the necessary measure to suspend production at our European factories initially for an estimated ten business days only. As the COVID-19 situation is highly volatile, we will have to closely monitor the situation and manoeuvre through the uncertainties that lie ahead.  

In the meantime, we are making full use of our business continuity measures to ensure that deliveries of cars continue as planned.  

How long do you see this situation lasting?  

The coronavirus crisis is unprecedented and no one is able to gauge the extent of its impact or make a reliable forecast.  But even as the epidemic continues to expand, the Volkswagen Group will continue to operate on the basis that the health and wellbeing of our entire community remains our top priority.

The Shutdown List

We’ve included factories that are known to build cars sold in Singapore, and have omitted North American unless relevant.

BMW – has shutdown its Europe and South African factories until April 19, its US production, where it makes X series SUVs, is continuing production

Mini is stopping production until April 17 at its UK plants, while Rolls-Royce is doing similar for four weeks until mid-April

Honda – has stopped production at its UK factories, but there is no indication of its Japan or Thailand factories doing the same. 

Citroen /Peugeot/Opel – parent company PSA is closing its European factories until early April.

Ferrari – has stopped its production in Modena, being one of the first places in Italy to face the lockdown, and will continue into April.

Fiat Chrysler – Fiat/Chrysler/Maserati has stopped production in Europe until early April.

Hyundai/Kia – The chaebol shut its factories in February due to NCOV but has since resumed production. 

Jaguar Land-Rover – has suspended production

Mercedes-Benz – parent company Daimler has ceased most of its European production this week

Nissan – Has stopped production at its UK Sunderland plant, which is where the Qashqai is made 

Renault – has shut its factories in France 

Toyota – has stopped European production 

Volkswagen Group – Audi, Bentley, Bugatti, Seat, Skoda, Volkswagen – announced on Tuesday March 17 that it would stop production in Europe until mid-April.

Volvo – has also ceased its European output from March 26 until April 14 

about the author

Derryn Wong
CarBuyer's chief editor has a keen interest in all things mechanical, technological, animal and mineral. He's particularly fascinated by eco-cars and cars which make no logical sense. An avid motorcyclist and photographer, he also enjoys cats. Follow him on Instagram @werryndong