German dealerships to reopen

17 April 2020

17 April 2020

Dealerships in Germany will be allowed to resume selling cars as the government relaxes its coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdown.

The Government did not set a specific date for when dealerships could reopen for car sales, as the timing will be down to individual states. Many have remained open to carry out servicing and repairs, so, following the further implementation of safety measures, sales should be able to resume relatively quickly.

‘Important and necessary’

After writing to Chancellor Angela Merkel last week warning of dealership bankruptcy, automotive lobby groups have welcomed the decision.

The German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA) called the move an ‘important and necessary step’ to enable the ramping up of production. ‘There is no production without sales,’ the VDA’s President Hildegard Mueller told the DPA press agency.

In a statement, the German Federation of Motor Trades and Repairs (ZDK) said it was an important sign to dealerships that they can now get back to business. The ZDK’s President Jürgen Karpinski highlighted it as an opportunity to save some of the vital business that has been lost over the spring.

Germany’s new car sales dropped by 38% in March after non-essential businesses were forced to close. This was a big loss given that March is typically one of the country’s best months for sales. The Association of International Motor Vehicle Manufacturers (VDIK) warned that the decline in registrations will be significantly higher in April compared to the loss in the second half of March. ‘For the year as a whole, our original forecast of 3.35 million new passenger car sales can certainly not be maintained,’ VDIK president Reinhard Zirpel said.

But the association was still positive about the plans surrounding showrooms. 'The decision to reopen motor vehicle dealerships is correct and justifiable,’ said Zirpel. ‘This will quickly help to preserve jobs and businesses in the automotiove industry.’

‘An important step’

In a press release, Opel outlined its ambition to get its dealerships back open on 20 April. ‘This is an important step towards normality,’ said Opel CEO Michael Lohscheller. ‘Of course, the protection of our sales force, dealer partners and customers remains our top priority.’

In the release, Opel outlined that shops with a maximum size of 800 square meters may reopen as of next Monday, including car dealers - regardless of their size. ‘I am very confident that our Opel partners will quickly implement and comply with all regulations. We will do our utmost to support them,’ said Opel Germany boss Andreas Marx.

‘It is also important that all registration offices are open nationwide and that customers feel like buying a car again.’ He went on to identify the need to stimulate car buying with attractive offers and the ability to make purchases online.