Car dealers say ‘anxiety’ among customers caused by the ongoing fuel crisis is having a knock-on effect on business.
There continues to be long queues at fuel pumps with many petrol stations remaining closed today after being ran dry.
Dealers say the crisis is causing a huge amount of worry to their customers and has changed the way they’ve had to operate.
One dealership boss says he has even had a buyer refuse to collect their car unless it came topped with fuel.
Others say they have missed out on sales as potential customers are hesitant to travel to see cars out of a fear they may not make it home.
Umesh Samani, chairman of the the Independent Motor Dealers Association has implored everyone to ‘only buy what they need’ in a bid to ease the current strain.
Samani, who runs Specialist Cars in Stoke, says he has only been fuelling up cars in small amounts as a result of the ongoing situation.
He remains hopeful that normality will return by the weekend and is not expecting lasting damage to the industry as a result.
He told Car Dealer: ‘I actually had two customers over the weekend who wanted to come and see a car but decided not to because of worries about fuel.
‘One of them was coming over from Derby, was worried he didn’t have enough to get there and back and there was no guarantee he’d be able to get more fuel. In the end he had to leave it.
‘I’ve also heard a few cases that dealers are also having trouble about trying to get cars in nationwide – everyone is being very cautious as a result.
‘We are now only using what we need and just putting £25 or £30 in cars rather than filling them all the way up.
‘If everyone is sensible hopefully things will ease off in the coming days.’
Another dealer who has been affected by the shortage has been Martin Smallbone, who runs Smallbone & Son Cars in Birmingham.
He says that both his business and his customers have been struggling to get fuel.
He said: ‘Our local petrol station that we use has been closed and obviously we’ve not been able to get any petrol or diesel.
‘We’ve had a lot of customers asking if we can fill their cars up before they pick them up as they’re worried about when they’ll be able to get fuel.
‘We’ve had to make delays until the weekend because we can’t get any either. One customer even insisted that we top it up or they wouldn’t collect.
‘It’s all easily managed and we’re hopeful it should sort itself out by the weekend.’
‘Crisis will accelerate the journey to going fully electric’
One result of the crisis appears to be an increased interest in EVs.
Car Dealer reported yesterday that searches for used EVs on Auto Trader rose by more than 60 per cent last weekend.
Another online marketplace, Motorway, says that more people will now be questioning whether the time is right to go fully electric.
Tom Leathes, CEO of Motorway said: ‘While the fuel crisis isn’t yet impacting vehicle sales, as there is still phenomenal demand for used cars right now with prices continuing to soar, we may see some issues in terms of collection and deliveries in the short term until the crisis has been averted.
‘People who want to buy and sell cars safely from home rely on the logistics industry to move these cars around – so if this lack of HGV drivers continues, it may start to impact car sales.
‘What the crisis will definitely do however, is accelerate the journey from people questioning their current car ownership to going fully electric, particularly in London with the imminent expansion of the ULEZ next month.
‘Those who have already made the jump to EVs are sitting smugly in front of their TVs watching the rest of the UK sit in their cars queuing for hours to get to the fuel pump.’
Pics: PA Images