Washington — Auto dealers are bracing for slower sales in the face of the coronavirus pandemic. They are also asking to be treated as "essential operations" and left out of government-ordered shutdowns.
Nationwide, dealerships are resorting to bringing sanitized test-drive vehicles to the homes of potential buyers who are leery of visiting showrooms in the era of social distancing and self-quarantines. They working out financing over the phone or internet.
Facing the prospect of expanding shutdowns as state and local government scramble to prevent the further spread of the virus, the National Automobile Dealers Association and Alliance for Automotive Innovation, which represent dealerships and carmakers respectively, said the Trump administration should make sure dealerships are exempted from any state or federally imposed restrictions on U.S. residents' movements.
"As our nation continues to confront the coronavirus’s challenges, we want to underscore the importance of ensuring that consumers have access to a safe and well-functioning motor vehicle fleet," NADA President Peter Welch and Alliance for Automotive Innovation President John Bozella wrote in a letter to the president.
"Motor vehicles, both new and old, are critical to ensure that the public can get food and other necessities of life, as well as to continue to interact with one another in a manner consistent with public health officials’ recommendations," the letter continued. "Given the importance of safe transportation in addressing the coronavirus outbreak, we have an obligation to ensure that motor vehicles remain safe and are properly maintained."
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