Advice on whether car dealers should be delivering cars during the lockdown has been issued by the NFDA – but there is still no official word from the government.
Yesterday, Car Dealer Magazine published a feature on whether car dealers should be selling and delivering cars during the lockdown and the reaction from dealers has been mixed.
Many believe the shutdown means their business should be closed, while others believe cars can be sold and delivered to buyers.
We have contacted the Department for Business, Innovation and Enterprise but have yet to receive an official comment.
Online only used car dealer Cazoo resumed sales and deliveries last week – a move that was met with raised eyebrows by parts of the motor trade. It did, however, call into question the morality for dealers considering delivering cars to non-essential buyers during the UK lockdown.
The NFDA has now issued guidelines to its members stating they believe dealers CAN deliver cars during the lockdown, while the SMMT has told Car Dealer Magazine it also believes ‘deliveries are allowed if appropriate social distancing and hygiene measures are in place’.
The NFDA guidelines suggest that dealers can sell and deliver cars under the current restrictions by taking precautionary health and safety measures.
It has told members that despite this delivery drivers may still run the high risk of being stopped by the police so should carry documents with them from their employers explaining the journey is for ‘an essential purchase’.
The advice, while welcome for dealers, will continue to cause confusion as while some understand following the guidelines in place means they could deliver cars, they still think that is morally wrong.
Neil McCue, chief operating officer for Snows Motor Group, told Car Dealer Live today that until there was specific government guidance his dealer group would not be delivering cars. And his thoughts have been echoed by many in the trade.
He said: ‘It’s up to every business to make their own mind up of what they want to do. From a Snows point of view, we will follow government policy.
‘I think that they have published that you can deliver cars, but we are really uncomfortable with it in terms of there are so many pieces to the puzzle in terms of doing a handover and delivery. So, for Snows, we are definitely not delivering cars to customers’ houses.’
Chris Wiseman, managing director of Wessex Garages, commented on our LinkedIn post: ‘Personally I think this has more to do with social responsibility above profit. In reality for most dealers the volumes will not be high enough anyway to sustain without opening fully.’
The NFDA guidance, issued on Friday to its members and shared with Car Dealer Magazine today, says it is clear from the lockdown rules that car showrooms must remain closed to the public.
However, on online sales, it states: ‘The guidance concerning purchasing vehicles online is more ambiguous, but there appears to be no absolute prohibition to online vehicle sales provided they occur outside any “car showroom” and that traditional “car showroom” activity ceases.
It says that it believes storage and distribution facilities are outside of the temporary closure and that ‘deliveries necessary for online car sales’ can take place.
It says these deliveries should be carried out in a manner that is compliant with health and safety guidelines, so adhering to social distancing and disinfection.
The NFDA advice adds: ‘So, the consensus appears to be that vehicles can still be purchased during lockdown, if only online.
‘Delivery remains acceptable although the authorities will continue to investigate those travelling (which may include employees providing the delivery service), and so one would normally expect the employee to be equipped with a letter from his/her employer explain that travel is essential for the execution of their duties.’
The NFDA does highlight that it is a question of choice for dealers, though.
The report adds: ‘It is a question of choice. The bottom line is that based on the government guidance, dealers do not appear to be prohibited from selling online or arranging delivery in principle.’
There are also warnings to dealers thinking about doing this for the first time that it comes with Distance Selling Regulations issues which will need to be followed – notably the customer’s right to cancel.
Watch our interview with Snows Motor Group’s Neil McCue below