Moody's Investors Service has been downgrading auto debt in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, but the industry has strengthened its balance sheets since the previous recession, and less than half of companies saw their ratings cut.
The agency cut ratings on nine of the 22 companies it covers, citing the production and demand effects of the coronavirus on top of the industry's existing profit challenges.
Moody's projects that global light- vehicle sales will slump at least 20 percent in 2020 and take several years to return to 2019 levels. Over the past three months, total debt downgraded was about $130 billion, excluding the debt issued by captive finance arms.
Automakers that were downgraded included highly rated companies as well as those that are restructruring.
Ford's rating was cut to Ba2 in March as a result of the pandemic. That followed a cut in September as the company struggled in China and continued a massive restructuring effort.