Editor's note: Luca Ciferri, editor and associate publisher of Automotive News Europe, is living under quarantine at his Italian home in Villastellone, just south of Turin. He will be filing daily updates in this blog post.
For the second consecutive day very few vehicles are being produced in Italy. Only Ferrari is still building its supercars, but the staff at its plants in Maranello and Modena plants has been reduced to a minimum, the company said.
Volkswagen Group's Lamborghini plant has halted production for nearly two weeks.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles' four assembly plants stopped regular production on Wednesday. The aim of the shutdowns is to slow the spread of the coronavirus, which has killed more than 1,000 people here.
The difficult question is: When will production resume?
It may be a while because to prevent the contagion's spread without choking the economy, the Italian government wants people to work from home whenever possible. However, some industrial activities can continue as long as stricter safety and hygiene measures are followed.
Supply and delivery of parts continues. Two weeks ago production was halted at electronics specialist MTA, which is located in Codogno, one of Italy's first “red zones” that were closed in the early phase of the outbreak.
This week production is running smoothly, MTA said.
How long output will last is anyone's guess because demand is collapsing in Italy and elsewhere in Europe. Belgium, France and Ireland have begun implementing virus prevention measures such as closing schools, something that in Italy starting doing last month. Schools here will be shut until at least April 3.
New-vehicle registrations for March are forecast to be roughly 20 percent below last year, industry sources told Automotive News Europe.
About 26,000 units were registered by March 12, compared with more than 32,700 during the same period last year, the sources said.
Predicting the order inflow is impossible because only a small number of people are allowed to order a new car. That is because to leave one's home there must be a situazioni di necessità, Italian for urgent situation.
Lawyers suggested that to meet this level of "necessity" a person's car would have to have been stolen or destroyed in an accident.
If your car is running properly, your vehicle purchase should be postponed.
This requirement promoted retailers to start closing their sales outlets on Wednesday.
Italian megadealer Autotorino, which sold 29,100 new and 22,400 used cars last year, closed on March 11 for the first time in its 55-year history, Chairman Plinio Vanini told ANE.
Autotorino has 1,700 employees and revenue of 1.22 billion euros ($1.4 billion) in 2019. The company's dealerships in the northern Italian regions of Piedmont, Lombardy, Emilia Romagna, Veneto and Friuli-Venezia Giulia sell cars for the Fiat, Jeep, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Toyota, Hyundai, Kia, Mitsubishi and Subaru brands.
Autotorino’s move was quickly followed by Italian subsidiaries of large international dealer groups such as Penske Automotive in Lombardy and Emilia Romagna and Porsche Holding in Veneto.
Several dealers are keeping their workshops open because vehicle servicing is not forbidden.
That is because it is considered a public service to keep ambulances as well as vehicles owned or used by doctors and nurses running.