The Germany-based automotive giant Volkswagen Group’s operating profit fell sharply by 81.4% to €904 million ($1 billion) year-on-year in the first quarter of 2020, due to the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic, the group announced on Wednesday.

The group’s deliveries to customers dropped by 23% to 2 million units, vehicle production by 24.8% to 1.99 million units and vehicle sales by 25% to 1.94 million units, it announced on Wednesday.

Sales revenue of the group, which is owner of several brands including Audi, Seat, Skoda, Bentley, Bugatti, Lamborghini, Porsche, Ducati, Scania and Man, dropped by 8.3% to €55 billion in the January-March period, from €60 billion in the same period last year.

The number of personnel also dropped in the group by 0.2% from 671,200 to 670,000 over the same period.

“The global Covid-19 pandemic substantially impacted our business in the first quarter,” said Frank Witter, the chief financial officer of the group.

“We’ve taken numerous countermeasures to cut costs and ensure liquidity and we continue to be robustly positioned financially,” Witter added.

After originating in Wuhan, China last December, COVID-19 has spread to at least 185 countries and regions across the world. Europe and the US are currently the worst-hit.

The pandemic has killed more than 217,000 people worldwide, with the total number of infections exceeding 3.12 million, while at least 932,500 have recovered from the disease, according to figures compiled by the US-based Johns Hopkins University.

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