Car industry executives have been in discussions with the government today about reopening car dealers as soon as May 11.
Discussions have reportedly taken place today about car dealerships being allowed to open in the first wave of non-essential businesses when the lockdown lifts.
Sources have confirmed to Autocar and Car Dealer Magazine that car manufacturers, dealers and industry bodies met today with government officials to discuss the move.
One source, who confirmed the meeting at the SMMT, told us: ‘May 11 was discussed, but nothing has been decided yet.’
Although there is no official confirmation, the fact talks have begun is a positive sign for car dealers.
In Germany, automotive industry associations lobbied the government hard for dealers to be included in the first wave of businesses allowed to restart after the lockdown.
The UK’s lockdown measures were extended on April 16 for at least three weeks, and it’s believed the disease has now peaked here, so a phased relaxation of the restrictions could be on their way soon. The government is obliged to review the lockdown again on May 7.
Prime minister Boris Johnson told the Downing Street press conference yesterday that the government would reveal a series of options for the UK to move out of lockdown next week.
Car dealers are already planning their return to work. Car Dealer Magazine revealed that the government was happy for dealers to sell cars online and deliver them to customer’s homes on April 28.
Meanwhile, others are planning a click-and-collect style offering to hand over cars. Whether that is currently allowed under the lockdown is open to debate, but there are many dealers who are offering it across the UK.
It is the preferred option for most dealer groups who say that home deliveries are simply too uneconomical to operate on a large scale.
Marshall Motor Group chief executive Daksh Gupta told Car Dealer Magazine earlier this week that he would not be offering click-and-collect handovers, or home deliveries – and was waiting on the government to announce restrictions being lifted.
He said: ‘I’m not convinced we could safely deliver a car to someone’s home without risk and the economics do not stack up. A click and collect solution is what we need but we certainly will not be doing it until there is guidance from the government to say that we can.’
Vertu Motors chief executive Robert Forrester said: ‘It is clear the answer to unlocking greater activity is to allow very controlled deliveries from the closed showrooms, remembering workshops and service reception are open.’
Car dealers will have to put in place strict social distancing measures if they are part of the first wave of businesses allowed to reopen on May 11. This could also include perspex screens for staff, like those you see in supermarkets.
Many dealers are already investing in PPE solutions. Perrys, Peter Vardy and Marshalls are all stocking up on PPE solutions in readiness for a return to work.
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