It feels great to be fully open again - staying safe and following the rules

Andrew Poppett welcoming a customer back to Vospers Torbay Peugeot.

Andrew Poppett welcoming a customer back to Vospers Torbay Peugeot. - Credit: Vospers Torbay Peugeot.

The March market may have not been as bad as I predicted but there were a number of reasons why.

The increases in the fleet and business market were as a result of preparing for a return to business after lockdown and taking advantage of the tax benefits of driving an electrically powered car.

Mild hybrids, hybrids, plug-in hybrids, and pure electric vehicles all increased their volume and share, and took over 40 per cent of the market.

The private sector fell by four per cent as many customers were prepared to wait until showrooms opened and they could test drive some of the new product and find out if it was the right car, as well as meet their trusted sales advisor to talk face to face.

Therefore, it was with great enthusiasm and optimism that dealers opened their showrooms and used car sales areas on Monday with many appointments already booked.

After effectively five months working from a back office or digitally on telephones sales teams are looking forward to meeting and greeting customers, old and new, and return to some normality of doing business.

Naturally, for those who are comfortable with the digital approach that will continue to be available.

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For those returning, all safety processes will be in place and customers are asked to comply with all the rules regarding the wearing of masks and social distancing and will find it is best to make an appointment.

Sales advisors will be behind screens and showrooms will have clear one-way systems, with cars locked, and sanitising and cleaning procedures along with hand gel availability.

All employees in most dealerships are having weekly tests and those returning to work from furlough will also be tested beforehand. 

Manufacturers have introduced many new products in this period and will have opening offers to stimulate the market and for those whose leases have been extended or are coming up for renewal it will be an opportunity to inspect and test many new choices. 

Incidentally, I do agree with a lot Paul Jolly wrote about diesel last week and the Government have given manufacturers a difficult challenge with the long-distance commercial market, in particular.

There will be new developments over the next few years and hopefully there will be alternatives to electric-powered vehicles.

Hydrogen is certainly one if costs can be brought down and I am sure inventors will continue to surprise us with their ingenuity. 

However, to clean up city life and improve the health of our inhabitants, and especially future generations, electric is the solution here and now. 

Expect more incentives for electric and more penalties for diesel as the Government change moves towards implementation in 2030. 

Finally, a few words in admiration for Prince Phillip. Somebody put it simply as 'an extraordinary man who led an extraordinary life' and I endorse that.

Having taken part in the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award programme, I know what he did to inspire, encourage and improve the lives of young people and will always be grateful to have been involved.

As a support for the Queen and the royal family he did a difficult job exceptionally well. He will be missed by us all. 

Looking forward to seeing you out and about again. Keep safe and keep smiling.