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Demand for EVs predicted as car dealerships reopen in England

Car dealerships in England have reopened today (Monday 1st June) following further easing of lockdown regulations. However, dealerships will look very different to the pre-coronavirus situation, with a number of significant steps implemented to help protect customers and staff.

Those wanting to test drive models can now do so without a member of staff sitting alongside them, as rules have been relaxed to improve the potential for social distancing.

Screens protecting staff and customers have been installed on desks at dealerships across the country, and many sites are recommending booking ahead to minimise risk.

Although measures have dramatically changed the look of showrooms and service areas, the message from the UK's automotive industry is clear; firms are looking to make it easier for customers to buy cars again.

These measures are in place in England alone. Northern Ireland is not set to reopen dealerships until next week (8th June), while Scotland and Wales also remain shut, with no expected reopening date announced at the time of publication.

Electric vehicles are expected to prove popular with buyers as dealerships reopen, and a surge in demand for all cars is expected in the next few days. It will be interesting to see whether this continues over the next month or so.

Car buyers have seen restrictions as to how they can go about the process, and with dealerships opening up, it is expected that large numbers will be turning up at sites - even if they can't all get in the door in one go because of social distancing restrictions.

The UK car market has been dramatically hit by lockdown regulations, with sales figures for April down around 90% or more almost across the board - pure-EVs were the only sector to perform relatively strongly, at a 10% drop.

Sales figures for May are due out at the end of this week, and are predicted to continue April's trend, though these will clearly not include models sold from forecourts in the next few days. We shall have to wait a little over a month for definitive figures as to how the industry is recovering.

Sales trends are unlikely to return completely to normal, with lockdown prompting an increased use of online sales, and dealerships creating videos for potential buyers to see what models are like for distance sales.

Even with dealerships opening up again, a higher proportion of online/distance sales than prior to lockdown is expected, as buying trends have changed during this time, and customers remain cautious.

Despite this, physically looking at and test driving a car is an essential part of the buying process for many, and the reopening of dealerships in England is certain to prove a boost for the UK automotive industry.

Chris Lilly

Author:Chris Lilly
Date Updated:1st Jun 2020

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