Credit ratings agency Moody's Investor Service on Friday sharply cut its 2020 outlook for global auto sales, with Western Europe expected to take the biggest hit as the coronavirus outbreak worsens outside of China.
The agency said it now expects global auto sales to fall 14 percent in 2020, much more than its previous estimate of about 2.5 percent drop in February.
The credit rating agency now expects auto sales in Western Europe to see the steepest drop-off in demand - at 21 percent this year, sharply weaker than its previous forecast of a 4 percent decline.
In China, the world's largest market, auto unit sales are expected to fall 10%, a steeper decline than the previous projection of a 2.9% drop.
In the U.S., the agency expects light vehicle sales to fall at least 15 percent in 2020, weakening from its previous forecast of a 1.2 percent decline.
The number of U.S. coronavirus infections climbed above 82,000 on Thursday, surpassing the national tallies of China and Italy.
Auto sales in China plunged 79 percent in February, marking their biggest ever monthly decline, as the outbreak hit demand, data from the country's largest auto industry association showed earlier this month.
The pandemic, which has killed more than 22,000 people globally, has forced the shutdown of auto plants around the world as entire cities have gone into lockdown to stem the spread of the virus.