The coronavirus and its ripple effect on consumer demand could send global auto production down 16% in 2020, fueled partially by an expected 20% decline in U.S. sales, according to RBC Capital Markets.
The new forecasts come as automaker stocks decline more than other industries amid the COVID-19 outbreak. Shares of publicly-traded U.S. automakers are down between about 30% and 40% this month, including double-digit losses Monday.
Tesla remains the only U.S. automaker with its shares in the black for this year. However, it's leading this month's declines compared to General Motors, Ford Motor and Fiat Chrysler. Tesla shares closed Monday down 18.6%, with the stock falling 40.2% for the month. Shares remain up 6.4% for the year.
Fiat Chrysler, which Monday said it would shutter a majority of its European plants, is down 36.3% in March, including a 21.6% decline on Monday to $7.86. Both Ford and GM are down more than 30% this month. All three stocks hit new 52-week lows Monday.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed nearly 3,000 points lower Monday, or 12.9%, at 20,188.52. The S&P 500 dropped 12% to 2,386.13 — hitting its lowest level since December 2018 — while the Nasdaq Composite closed 12.3% lower at 6,904.59 in its worst day ever.
COVID-19 was first a supply and demand issue for automakers in China, however as it spread to other countries, including the U.S., it quickly sparked concerns of a global recession and falling consumer demand.
RBC said its new forecast for global automotive production being down 16% is largely "from a demand perspective," including retail sales in China – the world's largest auto market – being cut in half so far this year.
"We assume the impact in the U.S. could be similar before a recovery later in year," wrote RBC's Joseph Spak in a note to investors Monday morning.
The new forecast calls for U.S. auto sales to fall to 13.5 million vehicles, 20% below last year's sales. At the beginning of the year, many were calling for U.S. auto sales to be about 16.5 million to 17 million.
— CNBC's Fred Imbert contributed to this report.