CoVid-19 Industry Updates

CoVid-19 Industry Updates (115)

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.

Shift, in light of the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, has launched new systems that will support public health efforts while continuing to serve customers. 

To follow public health guidance regarding social distancing, Shift is temporarily suspending customer visits to our physical facilities. However, customers can continue to schedule test drives and buy cars directly online on Shift's website and have the vehicle delivered to their home, as well as sell their car to Shift through an at-home evaluation. 

Shift has formally instituted a work from home policy for those whose jobs allow, employees in the field will continue to follow all CDC recommendations for reducing the spread of germs, including frequent handwashing, maintaining social distance, use of hand sanitizer, and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces. Furthermore, Shift has launched a new no-contact test drive system whereby a Shift concierge will deliver a car to a customer's home, wipe it down with disinfectant, and hand it over to the customer to test drive on their own. 

ADESA announced as of March 20, all U.S. and Canadian physical auction locations will run in “minimum essential operations” status until April 3 at the earliest.

It will not host physical sales or simulcast sales during this time. It will operate certain “essential operations” as permitted by local, state, provincial or national directives.

For information on specific auctions, please go to their website Here.

Carousel Motor Group announced on March 20 that it would temporarily close its new and used vehicles sales operations through April 30.  This includes BMW of Minnetonka, Audi Minneapolis, Audi St. Paul, Porsche Minneapolis, Porsche St. Paul, Coon Rapids Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram and Chevrolet North Branch.  Carousel Motor Group is the first major motor group in the state to take this step.

All seven of the dealerships will continue to operate vehicle service and parts businesses and will remain open, in order to support the community, healthcare providers, first responders and customers with their emergency service needs.  All service and parts hours will be limited to Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.   

"I am confident that we are making the best decision to protect our employees, their families and our customers.  It is always tough to lead with decisions that impact our daily personal purpose.  Going to work at a place we love brings us both social and financial reward.  The most valuable part of our company is our people and with that in mind, we will continue to pay our employees during this closure period," said Chase Hawkins, Chief Executive Officer and President, Carousel Motor Group.

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