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Cars & COVID-19 | The Automotive Industry After the Pandemic

How will car dealerships & enthusiast groups/events change because of the COVID-19 Pandemic? We discuss our thoughts on the future of automotive.

This episode of TestDrive Garage is a little different, as we enter the 7th full week of near-complete shutdown here in Québec, we want to talk about how the COVID-19 pandemic could affect the automotive world moving forward.

We've already seen some pretty serious changes for journalists, the first couple weeks into this situation some manufacturers were still giving out vehicles in Québec, but that has all stopped, so our access to new vehicles to film is at a standstill. Government shutdown orders are also affecting dealerships, while everything was to be closed after the first week, slowly the Gouvernement de Québec decided to allow automotive repair facilities to re-open for essential service vehicles.

This has gradually increased to all types of vehicles, as Québecers look to get back to a normal life by using their cars, changing oil, and swapping out winter tires. It expected the sales side of dealerships will open around the 4th of May with other limited businesses. But the way cars are being bought is changing because of this pandemic. Just because dealers aren't allowed to physically open their storefronts to customers, Québecers have been allowed to buy new cars online for the first time, giving dealerships a new avenue to drive business.

Customers can configure a car online, and have a salesperson show up to their house with the car for a personalized test drive, and even sign the papers remotely if they want. Manufacturers like Genesis have been working towards this already, with a nearly online-exclusive buying process. We expect to see other manufacturers look at Genesis for the sales and service experience in order to re-invent their own offerings to customers, as the in-person buying process will change at least for the foreseeable future.

Businesses here in Canada are installing large plexiglass barriers between customers and staff, adding floor decals to ensure social distancing is adhered to, and limiting the number of customers allowed in a dealership at a given time. These measures will likely remain in place for some time, and may even become the new normal for life here in Canada.

We also go over some questions we hoped to ask the manufacturers specifically about the trends they're seeing from their dealership network across the country, however we reached out to 7 of the manufacturer groups that represent 20 vehicle brands sold in Canada and all 7 either declined or ignored our request for an interview.

We wrap up with our final thoughts on how the automotive landscape will change here in Canada and abroad because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and how we can try to use this opportunity to reinvent ourselves and look for new approaches to doing business, as well as being social in club.

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