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Anjani Trivedi

Who Will Pay the Car Industry’s Bills This Time?

It’s looking a lot like pre-2008 all over again, with a much bigger crisis coming.

Workers return to a production line in Wuhan.

Workers return to a production line in Wuhan.

Photographer: Xiao Yijiu/Xinhua/Getty Images

At the rate the coronavirus is spreading, car companies won’t be making vehicles or big profits for a while. Who’s going to foot their bills in the event of an economic downturn like 2008? A financial crisis-like bailout won’t be a good look.

Heading into this slump, carmakers were hardly exercising restraint, splashing out on big, tech-savvy investments and electric vehicles. Many global brands like Ford Motor Co. botched their bets in China, the world’s largest market, and have struggled to keep up there as it weakened.