Mobility sector asks to gradually reboot ‘safe activities’
Belgian mobility federations Febiac (car import), Traxio (car services), and Renta (leasing) ask the government in a joint-statement to allow the restart of a limited number of essential activities at the next evaluation of the COVID-19 measures.
Activities like delivering new cars, technical control for registering used cars, or providing leased cars aren’t gathering masses of people. Still, they are considered essential to get the economy back on track. The federations assure that this is possible while respecting all rules regarding social distancing and hygienic conditions.
Cars piling up
Since the government issued the measures to tackle the corona crisis, the whole sector has virtually come to a halt. Cars aren’t allowed to be delivered anymore, while there are ‘piling up’ in the harbors, at importers’ headquarters, distribution centers, or dealerships.
After a nationwide close-down, car inspection centers in Flanders were allowed on March 25th to provide a limited service for commercial vehicles (+3,5 tons) and priority vehicles only, as reinspection of vehicles that previously got a red card. But inspections for sales or registering of second-hand cars remained forbidden.
At the leasing companies, activities have stopped too. New leased cars can’t be delivered to clients; end-of-term vehicles can’t be taken in and put up for remarketing. Body shops and garages can only perform urgent breakdown assistance or repairs. Tires can only be changed when becoming a security issue. Most of the garages remain closed, though.
Groaning under measures
The whole sector is ‘groaning’ under these strict measures, the federations argue. They are jeopardizing to some extend the essential transport of goods and medical supplies and the mobility of crucial professionals, like the medical staff.
Without criticizing these measures, the federations consider to be necessary and appropriate; the sector asks to be allowed to restart several activities that are critical to ensure the survival of the industry. Febiac, Renta, and Traxio don’t expect the measures will be lifted after April 19th for the general public but ask to consider exceptions under strict safety conditions for the sector.
Delivery of already sold cars
They would like to get the green light for delivering already sold vehicles to clients and say to be ready to hand them over ‘contact-less’ to the client or at home. Several hundreds of millions of capital are immobilized today this way, which is threatening importers and dealers to be gasping for ‘financial breath’ in the short term.
The federations also propose to restart a limited number of services in the trade of second-hand vehicles, like technical inspections, damage inspections, and repairs. Or allowing potential clients to come and inspect a car for sales, as these activities are generally on an individually base without bringing together large groups of people and with proper social distancing.
Restart regular servicing
Other activities that are starting to cause problems when postponed too long are regular servicing of cars, changing winter tires for summer tires, or repairs. These activities are possible, the sector claims while organizing client contacts on an individual base with proper social distancing.
Last but not least, the ‘lockdown’ of the sector causes the production and marketing of vehicles planned for this year to be retarded by months. For some types of vehicles – like some Euro 6 cars and vans, Euro V motorcycles, or EURO VIC trucks – this delay can cause them not to be sold before stricter EU standards will apply. That’s why the federations ask Europe to extend with a few months the period these vehicles can be sold.