FRANKFURT — The German carmaker Daimler slipped into the crimson on the finish of 2019, battered by the price of creating electrical automobiles and by penalties from diesel emissions dishonest.
The collapse of revenue, which Daimler had warned about final month, exemplifies the challenges dealing with the German automotive business, which can be critical sufficient to push the nation into recession. Autos are the nation’s largest export, in addition to an essential a part of the nationwide id.
The quarterly lack of 11 million euros, or $12 million, was comparatively small in comparison with a revenue of €1.6 billion within the fourth quarter of 2018. However it places Daimler, the maker of Mercedes-Benz automobiles and vans, in a weak place because it confronts the financial penalties of the coronavirus in China.
Up to date Feb. 10, 2020
What’s a Coronavirus?
It’s a novel virus named for the crown-like spikes that protrude from its floor. The coronavirus can infect each animals and other people, and might trigger a spread of respiratory sicknesses from the widespread chilly to extra harmful circumstances like Extreme Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or SARS.
How contagious is the virus?
In accordance with preliminary analysis, it appears reasonably infectious, just like SARS, and is presumably transmitted by way of the air. Scientists have estimated that every contaminated particular person may unfold it to someplace between 1.5 and three.5 individuals with out efficient containment measures.
How nervous ought to I be?
Whereas the virus is a critical public well being concern, the danger to most individuals exterior China stays very low, and seasonal flu is a extra instant menace.
Who’s working to include the virus?
World Well being Group officers have praised China’s aggressive response to the virus by closing transportation, colleges and markets. This week, a crew of specialists from the W.H.O. arrived in Beijing to supply help.
What if I’m touring?
The USA and Australia are quickly denying entry to noncitizens who just lately traveled to China and several other airways have canceled flights.
How do I maintain myself and others secure?
Washing your palms steadily is a very powerful factor you are able to do, together with staying at dwelling whenever you’re sick.
Daimler and different carmakers had been compelled to maintain their factories in China closed longer than deliberate after the Lunar New Yr, and the virus has saved individuals out of showrooms. On Monday, the corporate stated it had begun step by step ramping up manufacturing at its Chinese language factories.
China has turn into a vital marketplace for all the German carmakers, and they’re struggling disproportionately from the financial results of the virus. Daimler bought almost 700,000 Mercedes-Benz automobiles in China final yr, greater than twice as many because it bought in the USA.
“The coronavirus supplies a considerable danger for the anticipated world restoration, as hopes had been pinned on an enchancment of the Chinese language financial system,” Stefan Schneider, an economist at Deutsche Financial institution, stated in a notice to shoppers on Tuesday. A recession in Germany early this yr is “fairly possible,” Mr. Schneider added.
Like its rival Volkswagen, Daimler additionally faces substantial prices from accusations that it programmed diesel autos to cheat on emissions exams. Daimler stated on Tuesday that it had put aside €1.5 billion through the quarter, and a complete of €four billion for the yr, to cowl the price of authorized proceedings and penalties in Europe, the USA and different locations.
The corporate has disclosed that it’s underneath investigation in the USA by the Division of Justice, the Environmental Safety Company and California regulators, in addition to by the authorities in Europe and different jurisdictions.
The accusations have put Daimler on the defensive simply because the auto business is within the midst of its largest shift in expertise in a century. Like different carmakers, Daimler should make investments billions in electrical automobiles and autonomous driving, or danger turning into irrelevant.
For the total yr, internet revenue at Daimler plummeted 64 p.c to €2.7 billion. Gross sales in 2019 rose three p.c, to €173 billion.