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Deep-clean future: how car dealers are planning for the return of customers

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The health and safety of buyers and sellers to carry on their business is the single outstanding consideration for car dealers

The health and safety of buyers and sellers to carry on their business is the single outstanding consideration for car dealers

The health and safety of buyers and sellers to carry on their business is the single outstanding consideration for car dealers

Dire forebodings haunt the jobs and businesses associated with cars. Everyone is struggling. Sales have dried up; short and long-term support is being called for. Echoes of the recession years resound.

Yet in the midst of it all, distributors and individual garages are trying to look ahead.

There is no point, they say, in looking back because we've never had a systemic shutdown of such ferocity.

So they are trying to visualise what motoring post-virus survival will be like and require.

Central to it all is the old adage of the customer always coming first. Everything has to revolve around that.

Whatever expansive or limited shape the re-start takes, the health and safety of buyers and sellers to carry on their business is the single outstanding consideration.

It starts with a massive drive to allay customer and staff fears of picking up a virus infection in cars, dealerships or workshops.

This week, in his own fashion Opel Ireland chief James Brooks sums up the challenge: "Extraordinary times require extraordinary measures. We recognised very quickly during our business continuity planning that to be best prepared to reopen our network post lockdown we needed to put in place extra controls to protect our customers and employees."

Their network, like so many others (Renault detailed preparations publicly this week too) will apply "stringent measures" to ensure social distancing and hygiene protocols are adhered to.

They are employing specialised experts so customers get a deep clean of their vehicle after repair work or before taking a test drive, for example. It is designed to "instil a little more confidence" in people to visit their dealer - for whatever reason.

So they have contracted Sanity Systems to "deep clean" all new and used vehicles in the network. The company uses ozone gas to scientifically kill 99pc of bacteria and viruses in vehicles and air-con system.

Paddy Magee of Renault Ireland also gave insight into the new disciplines they are insisting on to ensure the safety of all concerned.

A directive outlines what must be followed.

As with other brands, it includes staff rotas, limiting numbers in the showroom at any one time, solo test drives, contactless payments, sanitised cars and much more.

Also, like so many others, they are coming up with ways to lessen the potential impact of purchase and ownership with deals and offers.

Examples include a no-extra-cost three-month deferred repayment.

More pointedly - and as reported in our Business section yesterday - Mr Magee is appealing for a short-term €3,000 reduction in VRT to give people an incentive to buy new and help to lower emissions.

Irish Independent