Auto Trade Groups Ask Trump for Clearer Guidance on 'Essential Services'

First Up 03/24/20

Auto Trade Groups Ask Trump for Clearer Guidance on 'Essential Services'

A coalition of trade groups representing the nation's automobile dealers has asked President Donald Trump to clarify that certain sales and leasing activities at franchised dealerships are considered essential services during the coronavirus pandemic. In a letter sent to the White House on Monday, the group — consisting of the National Automobile Dealers Association, American International Automobile Dealers, National Association of Minority Automobile Dealers and American Truck Dealers — expressed its appreciation for federal guidance on March 19 that listed vehicle manufacturing, supply manufacturing, maintenance and repair facilities as essential services. However, "The Guidance made no reference to vehicle sales and lease operations that are typically conducted by franchised new-car and -truck dealers in conjunction with their service and maintenance operations," the letter said. "As a result, some states and other jurisdictions have prohibited vehicle sales by dealerships." The trade groups are urging the president to amend the previously issued guidance and asking that any future executive order include the sale of light-, medium- and heavy-duty vehicles by dealers as an essential service. Read more here. 

Pelosi's $2.5 Trillion Virus Bill Delays Mortgage, Car Payments

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi unveiled a $2.5 trillion virus economic stimulus plan in a bid to shape negotiations on a Senate measure that stalled on Monday, triggering a sell-off in U.S. equities markets, reports Bloomberg. Pelosi’s 1,400-page bill would have broad implications for the financial sector. It would force lenders to grant a temporary reprieve from mortgage and car payments and credit card bills. It would order the Federal Reserve to provide loan servicers with liquidity to allow borrowers to stop paying their mortgages for up to 360 days. Public housing residents would get a temporary reprieve from paying rent, and student loan borrowers would have $10,000 of debt forgiven. Negative consumer credit reporting would be halted. Foreclosures and evictions would be banned. There are currently no plans for House members to return to Washington to vote on the bill, and the proposal appears to be a list of demands Democrats want to see included in the Senate bill. Read more here.

Opinion: Idled Auto Industry Has Vital Safety Equipment. Donate It Now.

The current national emergency is not like those the country has managed through before. The auto industry is rightfully proud of its role in World War II — and even in the wake of 9/11. But, according to an Automotive News opinion piece, this is a different kind of battle against a different kind of enemy. The front lines are in hospitals and clinics, where nurses and doctors and other staffers bravely tend to those who are or may be infected with this deadly, flu-like virus. And many face a shortage of basic gear such as masks and gloves. Just as it has in other calamities, the auto industry can and will help. General Motors, Ford and others are already preparing to aid in the manufacture of much-needed ventilators vital to keeping alive those suffering the harshest effects from coronavirus infection. Tooling up and spooling up production of this crucial equipment will take time, money and tremendous effort. It will get done, but until then, there is something vitally urgent that every automaker, every supplier, every dealer and every aftermarket service provider can do right now: Call your local hospital and donate — or sell at cost, if you must — every piece of useful personal protection equipment in your inventory. Read more here. 

Mercedes Plants Latest to Close Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

Auto production in North America inched closer to a standstill and some suppliers began winding down operations in response to the coronavirus pandemic, reports WardsAuto. Mercedes-Benz USA says it began a 2-week suspension of production Monday at its SUV plant in Vance, AL, and van plant in Charleston, SC. “Wherever essential work is necessary, the company will continue operations in coordination with the respective authorities,” the automaker says in a statement. “All appropriate precautions to prevent the infection of its employees will be taken.” BMW says it will close its Spartanburg, SC, plant from April 3-19. “The health and protection of our associates is our top priority,” BMW says. “At the same time, the dynamic development of the corona pandemic is having a major impact on the global demand for cars. BMW Manufacturing is taking a flexible approach and adjusting our production volumes accordingly.” Read more here. 

Even With Plants Closed, Automakers Keep Up Ad Campaigns 

U.S. car sales are grinding to a halt, demand expected to be off by around 40% for March overall and as much as 60% in April, according to analysts – but despite the pandemic-led slowdown, automakers are continuing to run big-buck advertising campaigns. “Automotive ad spending remained largely resilient,” even as the bottom has dropped out on new vehicle sales, reports online media trade publication Digiday. According to The Detroit Bureau, that could be considered even more impressive considering the number of sporting events that have been cancelled in recent days due to the coronavirus pandemic. What ads are going out, in many cases, are being retuned to address the issues of the moment. General Motors is noting in some that it is now offering up to 84 months of 0% financing for qualified buyers. Nissan is focusing on its finance options. And manufacturers are looking to get across that they are not only making things attractive for potential buyers but also willing to work with existing owners who might face job losses and other financial problems. Toyota’s new ad tagline is, “We’re here for you.” Read more here. 

Webinar: Customer Care and Business Guidance During the Pandemic

Join AIADA’s Chairman and dealer, Jason Courter from Honda of Kirkland, and industry leader Kendall Billman for a special webinar on how to nurture your customers and keep your business viable

Kendall will discuss how to:

  • Address customer concerns and struggles, example: let the dealer become the liaison with the captive or bank

  • Manage the service lane during this crisis

  • Data-mine the correct customers

Jason Courter will share his firsthand experience from the west coast pandemic epicenter of Kirkland, Washington.

WHEN: Thursday, March 26 - 2:00 p.m. EDT.

To register, click here. 

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