Europe’s car industry is on a rocky road. The Covid-19 outbreak poses multiple risks. It has disrupted supply chains. It has slowed production. In Fiat’s Italian car plants, for instance, the need to separate workers has led to part-staffed lines. Ahead lies a far bigger obstacle: slumping demand.

Italian car sales fell 9% in February, but worse is to come. This month’s declines could outstrip China’s 79% drop in February, its largest monthly decline. Even before the outbreak, sales were weak and companies under pressure over new emissions standards. New-vehicle registrations in Europe reached prerecession levels in 2018 but have been falling since.

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