• Updated automotive sector safe restart guidance for vehicle retailers published by SMMT and NFDA.
  • Dealerships ready to welcome back staff and customers on 12 April, with comprehensive safety measures covering showrooms, vehicle demonstrations and test-drives.

Saturday, 10 April 2021 The UK automotive retail sector today signalled its readiness to get showrooms reopen on 12 April with the publication of new updated sector-specific guidance by the National Franchised Dealers Association (NFDA) and Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) to ensure all premises are safe spaces for employees, customers and other visitors.1

The best-practice guidance covers the entire customer experience, from booking appointments to showroom interactions, test drives, “click and collect”, part exchanges and aftersales, and includes advice on staff training, signage, sanitation and protective personal equipment (PPE).

Developed in partnership with dealers and manufacturers, it is designed to complement government guidance for the UK retail sector, to help dealers of all shapes and sizes implement legal requirements as part of individual risk assessments in line with their unique business and customer needs.

Sue Robinson, NFDA Chief Executive, said, “Opening showrooms will allow the economy to get moving again. With confidence in public transport safety at a 20-year low,2 private transportation will play an essential role in enabling people to return to their daily lives.

It is positive that the automotive industry is proactively working together to resume business as soon as possible in line with the government’s guidelines. The guidance will ensure over 4,500 franchised dealerships provide the best possible service in sales and aftersales, while protecting staff and guests. Automotive retailers will be working hard to overcome any challenges to safely welcome customers back to the showrooms.”

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said: “It’s been a long wait but automotive retailers are ready, willing and able to welcome customers back into showrooms. While “click and collect” has helped the sector survive, it cannot replace the experience of choosing and test driving a new car in person. Reopening these premises will also boost UK car manufacturing, as the reduced demand caused by their closure has led to months of lower production.

“Consumers returning to showrooms will notice some changes, not just in the updated Covid safety measures, but also in the increasing choice of new car technologies and there are now more “green” choices than ever before. With 150 models of battery electric, plug-in hybrid, fuel cell and hybrid electric vehicles on sale, that’s one in three models capable of zero emission motoring”.

ENDS

Notes to editors

1 The NFDA and SMMT automotive retail guidance and best practice is designed to complement official advice and will be updated to reflect any changes over time

2 Car dependency and the pandemic – RAC

The UK new car market recorded its first ‘growth’ in March since August 2020, with 29,280 more units registered during March compared to the same month last year. However, the month represents the anniversary of the first lockdown in March 2020, when the pandemic brought Britain to a standstill and registrations fell by -44.4%.

End of March 2021 YTD registrations -12%, 424,525 against 2020 YTD 483,557.

Registrations YTD remain -36.9% adrift of 10-year March average.

Q1 shortfall of 58,032 fewer cars, at a cost of £1.8bn to industry.

About NFDA

The National Franchised Dealers Association (NFDA) is the trade association representing franchised car and commercial vehicle dealers in the UK. The automotive retail sector is one of the pillars of the UK economy, it employs 590,000 people. There are about 4,500 automotive franchised retailer outlets in the UK.

NFDA is the voice of automotive retailers.

About SMMT and the UK automotive industry

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) is one of the largest and most influential trade associations in the UK. It supports the interests of the UK automotive industry at home and abroad, promoting a united position to government, stakeholders and the media.

The automotive industry is a vital part of the UK economy accounting for £78.9 billion turnover and £15.3 billion value added. With some 180,000 people employed directly in manufacturing and 864,000 across the wider automotive industry, it accounts for 13% of total UK export of goods and invests more than £3 billion each year in automotive R&D. More than 30 manufacturers build some 70 models of vehicle in the UK supported by 2,500 component providers and some of the world's most skilled engineers.