The motor industry in Scotland and across the UK has responded robustly to the coronavirus crisis.
While the Government lockdown means showrooms have closed their doors, dealers are ensuring that potential buyers can still go online to find their dream machines.
The nation’s leading motoring retailers were also swift to listen to ministers and send staff home to safeguard their wellbeing. That came after they had already introduced social distancing measures to protect employees and customers.
And a number of automotive outfits have stepped up to the plate to ensure key workers can travel safely to work by continuing to offer help with repairs, maintenance and vehicle leasing. Some companies are offering discounts to NHS staff and other vital workers as part of that effort to keep them on the road…
…Scotland’s leading dealer, Arnold Clark, for example, is working to enhance the online experience even further, and customers can still create a tailored finance package through the motoring giant’s Deal Builder tool. Its internet sales and customer services teams remain operational from home to handle client inquiries.
Arnold Clark has also identified 400 vehicles and 120 nine-seater minibuses that will be made available to frontline NHS employees who need them. The vehicles will be managed and repaired by volunteer employees and the company says it is overwhelmed by the willingness of staff to help.
Park’s Motor Group is keeping a select number of aftersales departments open to help key workers in Aberdeen, Ayr, East Kilbride, Glasgow, Hamilton, Hillington, Inverness, Perth and Stirling. The company has also continued to work on a number of emergency response vehicles during the week.
Macklin Motors boss Robert Forrester has pledged that the company will provide whatever assistance it can to keep vehicles for key workers and vital services on the road from Monday. It also hopes to support vulnerable customers who rely on their vehicles for food collection…
…Arnold Clark chief executive Eddie Hawthorne summed up the crisis, saying: “We are living in truly unprecedented times, not just within the motor industry but globally.”
He continued: “As we move into this uncharted territory, our focus remains on our employees, our customers and the communities in which we operate across the UK. As we look towards the future, we are hopeful for the safety of our communities and optimistic about the future of the industry.”
Japanese and Korean manufacturers came out top for how retailers rated the competitiveness of their retail finance offers in the National Franchised Dealers Association (NFDA)’s latest Winter 2019/20 Dealer Attitude Survey (DAS).
Toyota was the clear leader with a near perfect rating of 9.1 out of 10, followed by Lexus with 8.7 and then Kia at 8.2. The average for all manufacturers was 6.7.
The research for the latest survey was carried out in January this year, with an overall response rate of 40% on average, representing a network size of 4,569 dealers across the UK.
The overall ratings across all other manufacturers were still quite strong, showing most are posting competitive offers quarter-on-quarter, with the lowest at 4.9 with Alfa Romeo, followed by fellow FCA Group brand Abarth at 5.1 then Mitsubishi and Subaru in joint third bottom place with 5.2.
Toyota also did well in the ratings for how retailers view its approach to finance targets, with the Japanese brand leading the pack with 8.6 out of 10, followed by Suzuki and Kia in second place with 8.5 and then Mercedes-Benz with 8.3.
However, it was Mercedes-Benz that was the highest rated for the actual earnings potential on offer for retailers with a rating of 8.7, followed by Toyota and Lexus again in joint second place with 7.9 and then Nissan in third with 7.7.
Toyota’s Q1 offers have a strong 0% showing with all but two from its model line-up available with no interest offers.
It’s just the Land Cruiser and Proace that are running a higher APR of 5% until the end of March. The Aygo, Yaris range, Corolla range and Rav 4 Hybrid are all available for under £300 a month, much lower than Q1 average of £344 across all of AM’s compiled representative examples (see below).
Toyota also has the strongest 0% offer range out of any of the other high-flyers from the latest DAS…
Fleet operators and company car drivers can still access vehicle repair and maintenance services as most garages and workshops remain open during the Coronavirus lockdown.
The closure of all non-essentail retail sites was ordered by the Prime Minister on Monday (March 23) for a minimum of three weeks, prompting car dealers to close their showroom doors.
Workshops at many sites have remained open, to support the requirements of ‘key workers’ and vital fleet operations during the lockdown period.
Garages are included in the list of ‘exceptions’ in the retail sector which can stay open. These include supermarkets, health shops, pharmacies, petrol stations and car rentals.
The latest guidance aligns with the Government previous statement describing key workers in the transport sector as “those who will keep the air, water, road and rail passenger and freight transport modes operating during the COVID-19 response, including those working on transport systems through which supply chains pass.”
Sue Robinson, director of the National Franchised Dealers Association (NFDA), said: “Aftersales workshops and their technicians will play an important role in ensuring that critical vehicles can continue to operate safely and efficiently during these challenging times.”
Dealer group West Way is supporting the fight against Coronavirus by providing two Nissan Navaras to Team Rubicon UK.
The disaster response charity, which uses former members of the armed forces to provide support during crisis or natural disaster, was handed the loan vehicles on Monday (March 23) at West Way’s Basingstoke brand, to be used during the crisis period.
Tony Lewis, managing director of West Way, said: "This is such a critical time and the work Team Rubicon do is so important. We like to support community initiatives so when they approached West Way for support, we were delighted to be able to help, and we're proud to have provided the Navaras to help with their fantastic efforts during this difficult time."
Chorley Group has halved the cost of car repairs and servicing for NHS staff.
Local NHS staff and care workers who need repairs or servicing can take advantage of this offer by contacting their nearest Chorley Group showroom.
The service and sales departments are still operational for all customers, with cars regularly sanitised and good hygiene practiced by all staff.
The car dealer group, which has Nissan dealerships in Chorley, Preston, Burnley, Blackpool and Wigan, has also put a series of measures in place to help prevent the spread of Coronavirus at its sites.
Customers who want to buy a car can also do as much or as little of the process over the phone or online as they want to.
Sales director Adam Turner said: “We know how difficult it is for everyone now, and we want to make life a bit easier for those people working to keep us and our families safe and well.
“We are here for our customers, our team and our suppliers, too. Everyone is coming together and working hard to ensure we have 100% business continuity.”…
Birmingham City Council has written to ministers requesting the launch of its clean air zone is delayed as it deals with the coronavirus crisis.
The impact of COVID-19 on businesses has meant that their current focus is on trying to support employees rather than upgrade vehicle fleets.
The council has therefore requested to delay the launch of the zone until at least the end of the calendar year, to be kept under constant review in conjunction with the Government’s Joint Air Quality Unit.
Councillor Waseem Zaffar, cabinet member for transport and environment, said: “The current situation has meant we need to make changes to our original plans.
“COVID-19 is having a profound impact on the economy of the city and our preparations for the clean air zone.
“However, air pollution remains an on-going concern for this city. Once we have addressed coronavirus in the immediate term, poor air quality will continue to be a significant issue in the long term, and we should not be complacent.
“We believe that a clean air zone in Birmingham remains the most effective way of making a sustainable improvement to Birmingham’s air quality and we will continue to put in place the infrastructure required to support it.”…
Simon Bailes Peugeot is supporting a worthy cause in its local community by supplying a North Yorkshire charity with a purpose-built minibus after a year of fundraising.
The Peugot Boxer – named ‘James’ - can carry 12 people, together with two wheelchairs and is being used to users of the Ripon Community Link transport service, volunteers and staff to events and activities across the district.
The charity will be ready to get vulnerable people back on the road after the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak thanks to the efforts of Simon Bailes Peugeot.
Based at Saint Wilfred’s Bungalow and Ripon Walled Garden, Ripon Service Link supports adults and young people with learning disabilities.
Victoria Ashley, Ripon Community Link chief executive, said: “We are extremely grateful to Simon Bailes Peugeot for their expertise.
“This is the first time that we have been able to purchase a new vehicle and the specification has been designed to meet the need of our members. James really is going to make a big difference.
“We are also indebted to everyone who gave so generously to the appeal – individuals, businesses and organisations alike – and thanks to their generosity and support, we now have this magnificent vehicle.
“Our ability to provide supported transport is key to the provision of our services.”