CoVid-19 Industry Updates

CoVid-19 Industry Updates (104)

New York has changed  course and designated auto sales as an essential service.

On March 26, the Empire State Development Corp. authorized dealer sales by adding new authorization language: “automotive sales conducted remotely or electronically, with in-person vehicle return and delivery by appointment only.”

The New York Independent Automobile Dealers Association had lobbied heavily for the change and celebrated the announcement.

This language allows dealers to sell vehicles over the phone and over the internet and schedule in-person vehicle return and delivery by appointment only,” stated Paula Frendel, executive director of the NYIADA. “This change allows our independent dealers to continue to sell vehicles to our population, who need vital transportation for individual and family safety and maintenance purposes during this time. This will mitigate negative economic repercussions which would have occurred for a full closure as well.”

In response to social-distancing measures enacted during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, vehicle subscription app Fair announced a free delivery option that will allow customers to order, sign for and receive their car without leaving the house.

Fair is offering a free delivery option in an effort to flatten the curve of COVID-19’s spread. The delivery option means a Fair customer’s entire experience – from getting approved, shopping, document signing, and arranging for the car to be brought to the customer – can all be done with no negotiation, dealership visit or even physical paperwork. Fair’s flexible month-to-month model also allows customers to turn their car in whenever they want – a powerful ability in a hard-to-predict economic environment.

"In uncertain times where ridesharing and public transportation are not necessarily viable options, it’s important that people who need an affordable car can get one for as long – or as short – as they need without being locked into years of debt or even leaving the house," said Ed Brojerdi, Fair’s global head of brand. "As this crisis continues to unfold, we will make sure that nobody has to compromise their health or finances just to have something to drive."

Cars eligible for delivery must be located less than 50 miles away from the delivery location. Delivery is not available in all areas. In this case, customers can pick up their car simply by showing their driver’s license at the dealership and driving away.

Fair’s subscription model offers pre-owned cars for an upfront Start Payment, a refundable security deposit and an ongoing monthly payment that includes routine maintenance, roadside assistance and a limited warranty. It is an alternative to a traditional lease or loan, both of which lock consumers into a multi-year contract that’s not compatible for many in today’s volatile financial reality.

Two more FCA workers died of the novel CoVid-19 virus on thursday. UAW president Rory Gamble released the news late thursday. One of the employees worked at FCA transport in Sterling Heights MI and one was a tech support worker in Aubern Hills MI. Tragically this brings the total to five. Four of the five FCA employees were UAW members.

This follows the death of an FCA employee who worked at their Warren Truck assembly plant in Mi who passed away on Wednesday from CoVid-19 and two other FCA plant workers one from the  Kokomo, IN, facility and one from its Sterling Heights, MI plant that died on Tuesday. Earlier in the week a statement released by UAW president Rory Gamble said "two of our members, one at FCA Kokomo, IN, and one at FCA Sterling Heights, MI, have lost their lives to this virus"

Gamble also said in the statement that at least one employee tested positive for the virus at FCA's parts-distribution center in Center Line, Mi. The center has been shuttered.


Watch AN's First Shift with Jennifer Vuong, reporting on CoVid-19 and its effects on FCA and other Auto Makers.


Amid the business uncertainty caused by the coronavirus, Porsche Cars North America, Inc. (PCNA) and Porsche Financial Services (PFS) are actively supporting their customers and 192 independently owned and operated U.S. dealer partners with a host of new business measures to alleviate hardship. PCNA and PFS are working to help customers with their mobility needs and support dealers, who are the primary point of contact for customers. These efforts include expanding online retail, offering temporary customer payment relief, incentivizing home delivery and reducing operational costs for dealer partners. 

PCNA is helping dealers join a growing digital pilot program by reducing their cost to launch the offering and by fast-tracking the enrollment and installation process. PCNA launched digital sales for dealers in October, allowing Porsche customers to complete the majority of the car buying experience online with just one visit to the dealership for final signatures before the drive home

To help further dealerships enroll in a time when customers might not be able to visit in person, PCNA has negotiated discounted rates with preferred vendors to add digital retail to dealer websites and streamlined processes to allow for immediate and remote system installation. 

PCNA also offers lease extensions, payment deferrals and home pick-up or delivery for repairs and maintenance.

Santander Consumer USA and Chrysler Capital announced several initiatives to support customers and colleagues as the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19) affects our communities.

“During this unprecedented time, Santander Consumer and Chrysler Capital customers, employees, dealers and partners need our support and the assurance that we will assist them in the days ahead,” said Mahesh Aditya, President and CEO of Santander Consumer USA. “We believe that we have a responsibility to take the steps we are announcing today, and we will continue to work with all our stakeholders as we face the coronavirus together.”

For dealers, the company has partnered with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles to launch new incentive programs including: 90 days to first payment on select FCA models and 0 percent Annual Percentage Rate for 84 months on select 2019/2020 FCA models. The company’s business continuity contingency plans have allowed credit analysts, funders and other essential staff to work remotely, limiting the impact to dealers in the event we are required to close a site. Additional customer support includes expanded payment deferrals, late charge waivers and lease extensions.

The SC leadership team, along with the Santander US leadership team, continues to monitor the situation closely and is following guidance from relevant authorities, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO) and various state and local governments.

Group 1 Automotive, Inc. reported that due to the unprecedented business impact of the COVID-19 virus, Group 1 is implementing a variety of actions to address the sudden reduction in sales and service volume.

“The sudden impact of this medical and human emergency is clearly disrupting most businesses,” said Earl J. Hesterberg, Group 1’s president and chief executive officer. “This is requiring us to take many severe and regrettable actions to re-size our business to minimal activity levels in the near term.”

Virtually all of Group 1’s U.S. dealerships are located in markets operating in some type of “shelter in place” or restricted travel environments in accordance with applicable state and local orders. Dealership service facilities remain open to provide essential services to customers. No Group 1 U.S. dealership is completely closed. Overall, service activity levels have decreased due to the reduced number of vehicles on the road caused by government restrictions, or our customers’ concerns related to the virus.

While dealership sales departments have closed in some jurisdictions, in most cases, they are permitted to continue to operate, though with a dramatically reduced staff level.

The National Independent Automobile Dealers Association is calling on the White House to include auto sales as an essential service.

In a letter to President Trump sent this week, NIADA CEO Steve Jordan requested clarification from the Administration that automobile sales and leasing at independent automobile dealerships are essential services permissible during the COVID-19 pandemic, and asked that the recent guidance document on the essential critical infrastructure workforce issued by the Department of Homeland Security and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency be amended to include vehicle sales and leasing as essential services.

In the letter, Jordan said it is not only critical to safeguard the businesses and services identified as essential, it is equally important to safeguard businesses that enable essential services to continue uninterrupted – including auto maintenance and repair facilities, which were included in the CISA document.

But motor vehicle sales are also essential, Jordan said, noting, “Whether in times of crisis or not, repairing a vehicle may not be a viable option. The vehicle may be declared a total loss, parts may not be available, the vehicle may simply be worn out or it may not be economically feasible to repair it.

“In these instances, the American consumer may have an immediate need to replace the vehicle. Stated differently, the only repair might be a different vehicle” and consumers “will need the sales and leasing (and perhaps financing) services an independent dealer can provide.”

NIADA will continue to encourage all independent dealers to place the safety of their customers and employees first.


Watch Automotive Industry News Covid-19 update below.

Autotrader is helping dealers stay connected to shoppers with the rollout of Dealer Home Services. This suite of solutions assists with “no contact” interactions by offering consumers virtual vehicle tours, test drives at home and local vehicle delivery at no additional cost to dealers. 

Today’s car shopper spends 61 percent of their time online, according to the 2019 Cox Automotive Car Buyer Journey Study, and recent Cox Automotive consumer research shows that 37 percent of six-month intenders are less likely to visit a dealership in person due to COVID-19 concerns. Extraordinary times demand extraordinary service where online merchandising and digital retailing are more important than ever before. Dealer Home Solutions include: a virtual walk-around and video chat; bringing of the car to the customer with a no-obligation test drive at their location; and providing the option to start a local shopper’s purchase online and have the car delivered directly to their location to complete their purchase. 

Hyundai Hope On Wheels (HHOW), a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization supported by Hyundai Motor America and its U.S. dealers, announces a donation of $2 million for COVID-19 Drive-Thru Testing Centers in partnership with children’s hospitals throughout the U.S. The COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic has created a particular threat to children with cancer, many of whom have compromised immune systems. COVID-19 drive-thru testing provides a safe and trusted way for children who present risk factors to receive the care they need. The organization has supported the health and well-being of children with cancer since 1998. 

The following children’s hospitals are the first three of ten to receive a $200,000 donation to support their Drive-Thru Testing Centers (additional hospitals to be announced):  CHOC Children’s (Orange, Calif.); UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital (Cleveland, Ohio)  and Children’s National Hospital (Washington, D.C.).

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) is helping those at the front line of the coronavirus pandemic by manufacturing and donating more than 1 million protective face masks per month. Production capacity is being installed this week and the company will start manufacturing face masks in the coming weeks with initial distribution across the United States, Canada and Mexico. 

The face masks are to be donated by FCA to police, EMTs and firefighters, as well as to workers in hospitals and health care clinics. This action is the first of a multifaceted global program being developed by the company through applying manufacturing, supply chain and engineering expertise to support the global fight against the Coronavirus pandemic.

“We've marshalled the resources of the FCA Group to focus immediately on installing production capacity for making masks and supporting those most in need on the front line of this pandemic,” said FCA CEO Mike Manley. FCA will be working through national, regional and city authorities to ensure that the donated face masks are being directed to the people and facilities in the most immediate need. The company will disclose further actions related to the fight against the Coronavirus in the coming days.

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