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China’s automakers spare no effort to battle coronavirus epidemic

As the whole nation is batting the coronavirus epidemic with extreme resolve, automakers are also doing everything possible to help the country win this “battle without smoke”, and weather the toughest period for themselves.

Gasgoo has made a report about OEMs shifting their assembly lines to produce the urgently need medical supplies such as face masks and disinfectants. As of Feb. 18, SAIC-GM-Wuling, BYD, GAC Group and Changan Automobile have all joined the lineup, earning much thumbs-up from the public because the move does not only show the strong sense of social responsibility of those companies, but also demonstrate their flexibility in manufacturing capacity.

On the product side of things, some auto companies are engaged in vigorous efforts to develop heathier cars, more highlighting the health and safety of car owners. Geely Automobile said all of its future vehicles will be equipped with Geely's G-Clean Intelligent Air Purification System (IAPS), a new system that is able to automatically filter out harmful particulates from the vehicles internal air environment.

Geely added that the vehicles equipped with the IAPS system will adopt an advanced new active carbon chemical filter that can effectively absorb harmful gases and filter out irritating odor and harmful pollutants once they are detected by the automatic system. Moreover, the IAPS is also equipped with a negative ion generator that is able to sterilize and deodorize in vehicle pollutants and aim to remove in airborne viruses, bacteria, fungi, and molds, etc, achieving the same level of air filter as an N95 respiration system.

It sounds like Geely is working on putting masks on vehicles. The R&D is carried out under the Geely Healthy Car program, in which Geely would move to invest RMB 370 million.

What's more, automakers have adopted all kinds of measures to keep employees healthy, ensure safe production, alleviate dealers’ pressure and facilitate customers during the unusual days.

To employees

Some automakers have resumed operation after the extended holiday. Amid the ongoing epidemic spread, keeping employees safe is the foremost thing companies should care about.

Chery Holding, the parent company of Chery Automobile Co.,Ltd, particularly formed an anti-coronavirus team led by its Chairman Yin Tongyue to guide the safety works for its subsidiaries.

Aside from publicizing the knowledge about how to prevent from the novel coronavirus, the group and its branches request employees to report their whereabouts in the Spring Festival holiday and cancel all gatherings. Besides, Chery has been keeping a watchful eye on the epidemic situation, resolving to kill every possibility of infection.  

BEIJING, BAIC Group's self-owned PV brand launched in last October, previously revealed it would adjust production shifts after the holiday, making workers return to work in several batches. Those who live in hard-hit regions should temporarily stay where they are until the company release the go-back-to-work permission. People who come from key affected regions should observe home quarantine for two weeks after they return to the places where they work in. Moreover, the employees assuming front-line posts will start to work after the working environment was confirmed safe.

For some carmakers, the staff members working on administration, R&D and design businesses restarted their works at home as early as Feb. 3. They can handle businesses with a computer, and do communication via social platforms like WeChat, phones and e-mail.

For instance, WM Motor said it had completed an online office platform before the holiday, so its staff members have begun work now. In addition, multiple masks were being prepared for employees at all branches which would resume operation on Feb. 10.

To dealers

During the holiday, 4S shops around the country scarcely had a chance to treat visitors on spot as the virus froze people’s moving steps. To help dealers attract more users, a number of OEMs launched online showroom that allows consumers to enjoy cars through VR technology, and offer them price information using network.

To mitigate dealers' pressure, quite a few automakers have announced many practical measures, such as scraping the monthly delivery target, offering dealers subsidies based on their inventories and model types, and encouraging innovative marketing methods.

From the time being, such automakers as Volvo Cars, Lynk & Co, Chery Jaguar Land Rover and Jetour have announced the removal of Feb. sales target for dealers.

BAIC's BEIJING disclosed it will offer a special subsidy of RMB100,000 per 4S shop to Wuhan-based dealers which still open doors to visitors, and RMB50,000 to those in rest part of Hubei province. What's more, dealers that further delay operation resumption after Feb. 10 will be given subsidy of RMB2,000 per day, or up to RMB20,000 per shop. 

HOZON Auto also takes substantial measures to help dealers go through the coolest period. For example, it launches digital showrooms and online marketing platforms to attract clients for dealers, allows them to pay off debts after the due date, and provides subsidies for the sales persons working in hard-hit regions, according to Zhou Jiang, the startup's vice president.

Dongfeng Peugeot has also cut the sales target it set for dealers. More than that, the Sino-French joint venture reduces their burdens by granting cash incentives, 90-day interest-free loan and extended financing period.

To customers

During the cloudy days, automakers have not neglected what consumers need. In fact, this is a critical period for OEMs to consolidate users’ loyalty. Hence, they have rolled out a variety of policies and services to facilitate car owners.

In addition to moving services to App, GAC Trumpchi launched a service package to clean cars for users. From March on, normal car owners will be able to enjoy the service with favorable prices, while it is free for health workers within a designated period. Besides, the carmaker also extended the validity period of first-time car maintenance and other coupons, pacifying customers who stay at home but still worry about their services being expired.

Startup AIWAYS launched the around-the-clock customer service hotline. If any accident happens during a journey, a drive can ask for roadside assistance by touching the button overhead.

Premium brands have also taken relevant actions. For instance, Mercedes-Benz said it will prolong the life of some services which were supposed to be expired at the end of the first quarter. Of those, the factory warranty period for completed vehicles will be extended by three months.

Other automakers joining the growing list of user-care initiative include Dongfeng Nissan, SAIC PV Motor, Great Wall Motor, Beijing Hyundai, Geely and Chery Automobile.

Winter will eventually pass, and spring is sure to come. With strong resilience and flexibility, China's automakers are well braced for the epidemic.