Not all vehicles will be parked in residential garages during the 21-day shutdown, scheduled to end on April 17. Some, such as taxis, will carry essential workers to their places of employment and some will be delivering goods to supermarkets and service stations.
Engineering News & Mining Weekly spoke to National Automobile Dealers’ Association (NADA) national director Gary McGraw to understand the impact of the shutdown on vehicle service and repairs. Also, what happens if you just bought a vehicle, but perhaps lost your job?
Engineering News & Mining Weekly (EN&MW): Are dealerships essential services and will they be open during the shutdown?
Gary McCraw (GM): Dealerships are not classified as essential services and will therefore not be open during the lockdown period. However, those workshops that are part of a dealership providing support such as maintenance and repairs to essential service providers’ vehicles, such as ambulances, emergency vehicles and trucks necessary for essential goods deliveries may, if they are able to return a vehicle to service, fulfil the service functions as per the regulations.
Dealerships, including NADA members, which hold tenders with government institutions and departments, may receive requests for products and/or services during the lockdown. A minimum number of critical staff are currently at home and on standby to fulfill these services.
Businesses which receive requests to assist with essential services will be issued official orders containing very specific details of the product or service requested, the date on which it is required and the location where the products or services need to be delivered.
There are strict guidelines in place for fulfilment of these orders and staff have been instructed to not deviate from the specifics of the order, or they may face the risk of arrest by law enforcement authorities. Once the callout has been completed, an official from the essential service that requested the assistance, should be asked to sign off the order as completed.
EN & MW: What happens if my car breaks down and I need urgent repair work on my vehicle?
GM: It has been ruled that any critical maintenance services which cannot be delayed for more than 21 days and are essential to resume operations during the lockdown can be carried out.
A minimum number of critical staff are currently at home and on standby to fulfill these services. Businesses that receive requests to assist with essential services will be issued official orders containing very specific details of the product or service requested, the date on which it is required and the location where the products or services need to be delivered.
NADA believes that any truly urgent repairs to private vehicles will be few and far between during the 21-day lockdown. Provisions are in place to resolve almost any situation that would warrant the use of private vehicles in this timeframe.
EN & MW: I am a business owner. I run a fleet of delivery trucks to supermarkets. Or, I operate an ambulance. Will I be able to have my vehicles serviced and repaired if needed?
GM: Please see answer to question one.
EN & MW: I have a vehicle on order from a dealership. What happens to my car if I cannot come and collect it?
GM: Any pending delivery of a new or used car will be delayed until after the lockdown is lifted. The transportation of vehicles is not listed as an essential service, so deliveries of ordered vehicles will naturally be temporarily halted.
The sources of ordered vehicles range from depots, to other dealers and factories, for example. These vehicles will likely remain at their source until after lockdown.
Vehicles which have arrived at respective customers’ chosen dealerships and have not been collected by the time of lockdown enforcement, will remain at the dealership premises until collection can be arranged post-lockdown.
EN & MW: How long is the current lead time to get a vehicle delivered? Will I maybe have to wait longer than the three-week South African shutdown?
GM: The lead times associated with delivery of new and used vehicles varies greatly even outside of the current lockdown situation.
Factors such as specific vehicle availability, accessory fitments, financing, trade-in arrangements and licensing all affect how long it takes for a customer to receive a vehicle they have ordered or bought from a showroom. Any transaction will now move out by at least 21 days owing to the lockdown.
EN & MW: Will my vehicle be safe at the dealership while I cannot come and collect it?
GM: As safe as is reasonably possible. What we do know is that dealerships are generally high-visibility targets as they carry big-ticket items. There is security present at almost all dealerships, there are cameras and all other features allied to protecting vehicles and these measures will continue during the lockdown period
EN & MW: I bought a vehicle. It is either on order, or I have just received it, but now I have lost my job. May I cancel the purchase of this vehicle? If so, what penalties will I incur?
GM: This depends on whether the vehicle is financed or not. If financed, the agreement is between the customer and the bank. From our consultations with the banks, we know they are all looking at what they can do to assist consumers during this time period.
For a cash deal, there is no legal right to cancel the transaction if there is no issue with the vehicle or transparency of the service provided. The decision will be up to each dealer on a case by case basis.
There would be no penalties per se from a dealer, but once a vehicle is registered, it does lose a high percentage of its value as it becomes a used car. This shortfall would likely need to be covered by the customer, as well as any other costs that may have been incurred as a result of the original sale.
EN & MW: Please add anything you would like to share with our readers
GM: Dealers are employers and are run by people for the benefit of other people. The situation that we are faced with is unlike anything we have ever experienced before and each dealer will do all that is allowed to assist its customers during this time.
NADA and its member dealerships will also do the best they possibly can to mitigate any job losses or loss of income that may arise from this unfortunate situation.
* NADA is a professional body representing the interests of people who own, operate and manage new passenger and commercial-vehicle franchise motor- and motorcycle dealerships and qualifying used-vehicle-only outlets in South Africa.There are currently 1 326 NADA members. The members make up 85% of all new franchise dealerships in South Africa. South Africa currently has about 1 600 new franchised automotive dealerships comprising R48-billion worth of investment. It employs 60 000 personnel directly and a further 25 000 indirectly.
Please note that the answers above are valid for the lockdown period only.