The reopening of car showrooms on June 1st could not have come quick enough for the beleaguered motor industry. The closure of all car dealerships in late March resulted in a 97% fall in car sales in April, the lowest figure since 1946.

This drop translates to 4,321 new car sales in April 2020 compared to more than 161,000 in April 2019. Bearing in mind that the industry was already suffering from Brexit uncertainty this time last year and this fall looks even more catastrophic.

However, because the motor industry has always been vulnerable in times of economic uncertainty, it has a great track record of resilience in tough times. Of course, the impact of Covid-19 means that this ‘can do’ spirit is now about to be tested like never before and the reopening of dealerships is only the beginning of a very long road.

A positive reaction to the reopening of dealerships

At the time of writing, English car dealerships are on day 4 of being open post lockdown and the good news is that the early signs are positive, with dealerships across the country reporting stronger sales than some had anticipated. Indeed, Gateshead-based Vertu Motors told The Guardian they sold 451 cars on Monday June 1st and 411 on Tuesday June 2nd, which is about 100 more than they would expect on an average day.

Of course, these early figures will be boosted by pent-up demand from people who have been waiting for lockdown to end to buy a car because of personal choice, car breakdown or the end of a lease. However, even if this upward trend is only temporary, it is still welcome as it will help businesses become more resilient as they face the more uncertain months ahead.

A cautious approach

Dealers are also reporting increased interest in cheaper, used cars as consumers tighten their belts. However, although this may not be an ideal scenario, it is undoubtedly a better situation than what would have occurred had government initiatives such as the furlough scheme not been so widely available to consumers.

Another positive is that although consumers are taking a budget-conscious approach to car buying, there has not yet been any signs of a significant drop in prices.

Adapting to the new normal

The willingness of English car dealers to adapt to new working practices is proving to be a key factor in reopening the British car industry. Not only are practical steps being taken to ensure social distancing rules are maintained within dealerships, steps are being taken to reduce footfall with designated collection bays and a greater emphasis on online and telephone-based services. Indeed, the ‘click and collect’ type services that some dealerships instigated during full lockdown are here to stay with some of these services even incorporating part exchange.

What about car manufacturing?

With headlines about huge job cuts at manufactures like Nissan and Rolls Royce and UK car production falling to its lowest levels since World War II, with a mere 197 cars produced in the UK in April 2020, it is also good news that car manufacturing is now gathering pace.  Of course, for now, this is at a reduced capacity as carmakers ensure safe practices as they gradually remove staff from furlough and proceed cautiously to prevent creating a huge surplus of unwanted vehicles.

With the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT)’s prediction that up to 200, 000 vehicles could be wiped off the UK’s 2020 input, there is no easy comeback for the motor industry. However, despite the doom and gloom, at this early stage, it is encouraging to witness an industry fully committed to doing what it can to get back on its feet.

Technical adhesive solutions for the motor industry

Interflex provide specialist acoustic, NVH and sealing solutions to the car manufacturing industry. To find out more, please contact us on or 01949  861494.