SHANGHAI — The Chinese government's decision to extend its long national New Year holiday gave the world's auto industry a small break as it confronts the fears and uncertainties of the potentially deadly coronavirus.
The major holiday, in which all of Chinese society typically closes for business, would have ended Wednesday, Jan. 29, when thousands of automotive employees would have been due back to work, worsening the risk of spreading the illness.
Instead, Chinese authorities declared the holiday would continue until Sunday, Feb. 9, in populous Shanghai and the south China province of Guangdong and Sunday, Feb. 2, for the rest of the country, giving the virus more time to peter out.
Aside from the human toll it is taking, the international spread of the coronavirus last week added more worry and inconvenience to an auto industry that is increasingly interwoven with Chinese factories and consumers.
Auto supplier executives were quizzed last week by Wall Street analysts about what impact there might be on this year's production assumptions if the virus continued to require work stoppages and business interruptions.
Aptiv CEO Kevin Clark told analysts on a call last week that he expected no setbacks yet.
"If there's a global disruption as a result of the supply chain issues in China, if there's anything meaningful," he said, "that's not incorporated into our outlook for the first quarter."