Motor vehicle dealers in South Africa selling both new and used vehicles are ready for the reopening of trade, as announced by government this week, says National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) chairperson Mark Dommisse.
NADA has more than 1 300 members including 85% of all new-vehicle franchise dealerships in South Africa.
A limited number of personnel in the various dealerships have been preparing their facilities in terms of government’s newly published Covid-19 sanitation and safety rules, says Dommisse.
“The new directive will permit the buying of new and used vehicles, trade-ins and vehicle servicing. All arrangements with the dealerships, including test drives, will be by appointment.”
Domestic vehicle manufacturing has been permitted since May 1, under strict limitations, with component manufacturing also ramping up production.
“Dealers are a vital cog in the entire automotive ecosystem, which includes interaction with a host of partners, such as finance houses and service providers, including marketing support and vehicle transport companies,” explains Dommisse.
“It is going to take some time to get all the systems and processes up and running, particularly as only 30% of employees are allowed on dealer premises up to May 23, after which the staff complement can be lifted to 60% until June 6, following which full staffing is permitted.”
Initially the majority of interactions between dealer personnel and customers will be conducted via Internet channels or telephone.
Personal contact will be kept to a minimum and only by appointment, and then under strict hygiene and physical distancing conditions.
Home delivery of vehicles with full sanitisation will be mandatory.
Roadworthy assessment and testing centres are now open to facilitate the sale of used vehicles.
“While we expect job losses in the sector, the effect on retail businesses would have been even more devastating if there had been a further delay in the issuing of a directive to permit trading,” notes Dommisse.
“We are grateful that dealers nationwide are now able to provide services to their customers and potential buyers, albeit at the present limited scale.”