Could Coronavirus affect motorcycle production?

With Coronavirus affecting multiple Chinese industrial sectors, could it affect motorcycle production globally?

Chinese motorcycle factory

CORONAVIRUS so far in its country of origin has claimed nearly 1,000 lives of the 40,000 or so people affected by the virus.

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2019-nCoV, to give it its full name has so far locked down cities and forced many Chinese citizens in the worst affected areas into a self-imposed house arrest.

The lockdown has seen in areas like Wuhan and Hubei province being heavily affected, both of which are industrial zones and important transportation hubs.

While the thought of an industrial shutdown in these zones doesn’t seem like it could affect the production of companies like Honda, Triumph or Ducati, who’s machines might not be fully assembled in the area. The knock-on effect of having small component manufacturers and electronics producers out of action may have an impact on motorcycle production globally.

At the end of January for Hyundai had to close one of its plants in South Korea due to a lack of parts flowing from China’s industrial centre. The closure resulted in a four-day delay in production and it’s not just Hyundai who has been affected. Renault and Chrysler have also been affected.

Will the effects of Coronavirus be immediately felt?

Possibly not. The chances are most major global manufacturers will have enough of a float of components and parts to continue production for a short amount of time. There is likely to be a lag though after any global factory stoppages have taken place. For any vehicles that do not get manufactured in a specific month, the numbers will have to be made in the months after that.

Could Coronavirus affect any European manufacturers directly?

There are a growing number of makers that use China-based manufacturing facilities to assemble complete bikes or at least some of their major components. BMW, for instance, use the Loncin company to help build some of the smaller capacity bikes like the G310 GS. Suzuki and Peugeot utilise the mass-production know-how of Qingqi, MV Agusta has ties with Lifan and Zhongshen work with Moto Morini.

While you may not ride a bike with a Chinese brand name on the tank, there will, at some level, be parts within the machine that were built, manufactured or developed in China. Making the chances of the global motorcycle industry avoiding upset from Coronavirus very slim indeed.