Currently reading: Revealed: Government in talks to reopen car dealers this month
Earliest possible date is 11 May if the government hits metrics to ease lockdown
Rachel Burgess
News
2 mins read
1 May 2020

Car industry executives have been discussing with the government today whether car dealerships can be in the first wave of non-essential business allowed to open once lockdown eases, due to their economic importance to the UK, Autocar can reveal.

It's thought that 11 May could be the earliest possible date. However, the government has outlined that it must hit five key metrics before it can lift restrictions, meaning potential opening dates remain fluid. 

Autocar sources confirmed the meeting today, which was attended by the government and selected car makers and dealers. Key industry bodies the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) and National Franchised Dealers Association (NFDA) were also present. 

SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said earlier this week: “If demand [for cars] is weak and the speed at which production lines are able to ramp up is constrained, this hit could be even worse, so industry needs government support and coordination to implement a clear restart plan for all, including the reopening of retailers in the first phase of easing the lockdown.”

The move is seen as crucial to save car retailers - which collectively employ more than 500,000 people and have an annual UK retail turnover of around £200 billion, according to the NFDA. Even more importantly, such a move will start turning the wheels of the entire industry, including - crucially - UK car manufacturing plants. Recent research published by the SMMT estimated a loss of £8.2bn to the industry from plant closures beginning in March and ending mid-May. 

So far, some manufacturers – incldugin Jaguar Land Rover, Rolls-Royce and Bentley – have confirmed that they will reconvene production, at a significantly lower rate, from early May. Meanwhile, Nissan has said it won't start building cars again at its Sunderland plant until June. 

The government already confirmed last week that dealerships can sell cars online and deliver new vehicles so long as they obey all social distancing rules. 

Despite the fact that car makers were already continuing to sell cars online, the government’s clear statement had a clear impact on interest from car buyers. Web traffic to reviews on this website instantly picked up and dealer sources told us they were quickly considering how to remove staff from furlough.

The finer details of dealerships reopening aren't yet clear, but it’s inevitable that car retailers will need to fulfil strict social distancing guidelines as well as meet especially high levels of hygiene. 

READ MORE

Analysis: What has coronavirus done to new car sales? 

DVLA approves solo test drives for car buyers to maintain social distancing 

Car dealers told they can start to sell and deliver cars again

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1 May 2020

 The key phrase is as long as, but applied to everybody, there are lots of people out there who flout the rules just now, and we all know a few I bet, but, the country has to start getting back to work gradually with regular testing because we don't it to come back.

1 May 2020
Peter Cavellini wrote:

 The key phrase is as long as, but applied to everybody, there are lots of people out there who flout the rules just now, and we all know a few I bet, but, the country has to start getting back to work gradually with regular testing because we don't it to come back.

Fingers crossed?  No, no, no.  According to our newly found environmental recruits over on Matt Prior's story about Scrappage, new cars are a bad idea for the environment therefore I presume they all want dealerships to close for as long as possible.

2 May 2020

I think it is key that the rules on non essential travel are removed at the same time as opening dealerships.

People need reasons or emotional drivers to make them want a new car. We can't drive to restaurants, cinemas or pubs. We could at least be able to go hiking, camping or even for a drive in the countryside. 

 

2 May 2020

 Yep, a few have tried, and, a lot have been caught doing all the things you mentioned, for the sake of a few weeks, months even, I'd rather that than relaxing the lockdown too soon and prolonging it.

2 May 2020

They'll need new cars as the number of vehicles I've seen on the road yeasterday and today is amazing - they'll be worn out soon. It was almost normal Saturday traffic here in central Scotland. Police seem to have abandoned patroling the tourist spot car parks now, it's a free for all.

Folk having to use pedestrian crossings again to cross the road. Wonder if it was the same folk who clapped the NHS the other night who're now saying sod the NHS?

3 May 2020
scotty5 wrote:

They'll need new cars as the number of vehicles I've seen on the road yeasterday and today is amazing - they'll be worn out soon. It was almost normal Saturday traffic here in central Scotland. Police seem to have abandoned patroling the tourist spot car parks now, it's a free for all.

Folk having to use pedestrian crossings again to cross the road. Wonder if it was the same folk who clapped the NHS the other night who're now saying sod the NHS?

3 May 2020
scotty5 wrote:

They'll need new cars as the number of vehicles I've seen on the road yeasterday and today is amazing - they'll be worn out soon. It was almost normal Saturday traffic here in central Scotland. Police seem to have abandoned patroling the tourist spot car parks now, it's a free for all.

Folk having to use pedestrian crossings again to cross the road. Wonder if it was the same folk who clapped the NHS the other night who're now saying sod the NHS?

I've noticed the same down here in the southwest, my daily dog walk until recently hadn't required waiting to cross a main road, now it does, and my drive to and from work is now a lot busier, certainly appears like people have given up on lock down.

3 May 2020

I know garages are allowed to remain open but all the local main dealer service centres around me are closed and once they reopen there will be such a backlog it'll be a nightmare to get a slot. Now if a service is a few months or a few thousand miles overdue it's not the end of the world, but my car now has a fault which could be quite serious and I can't get it fixed. We can't keep everything closed like this, we need to reopen as much as possible, with the right precautions, and get the country moving again. I can live without my summer holiday, can't live without my car.

3 May 2020
Will86 wrote:

I know garages are allowed to remain open but all the local main dealer service centres around me are closed and once they reopen there will be such a backlog it'll be a nightmare to get a slot. Now if a service is a few months or a few thousand miles overdue it's not the end of the world, but my car now has a fault which could be quite serious and I can't get it fixed. We can't keep everything closed like this, we need to reopen as much as possible, with the right precautions, and get the country moving again. I can live without my summer holiday, can't live without my car.

I used an independent (that I've used for years) for a service and MOT, as MOT testing stations are allowed to stay open, so maybe there are independents open near you that could fix your car? Worth a try. I am a key worker and didn't want my MOT to expire and I always service and MOT at the same time so I carried on as usual in that respect as it had been booked prior to lock down and the garage is allowed to stay open.

3 May 2020
Dealers re opening makes sense in some respects, though not too soon, which is a difficult decision no doubt, I am surprised the maintenance side didn't stay open, even if in a limited capacity, as key workers cars still need to be safe and serviceable. Thus making mechanics key workers as well.

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