FCAI: Open Victorian car dealerships

The Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries wants the Victorian Government to allow Melbourne metropolitan vehicle and motorcycle dealerships to open from 28 September – or Step 2 in the COVID-19 Roadmap for Reopening.

Tony Weber, Chief Executive of FCAI, said the extended roadmap confirms the government’s strategy of focusing on the health crisis prior to the economic crisis that Victorian business is facing.

“While this is understandable, and the FCAI believes that the health of our community must take precedence, there is no doubt that industry and business is facing challenging times – some industries more than others,” said Weber.

“The automotive industry in Australia is suffering – and has been for the past two years.  On the back of a number of challenging issues, including drought, floods, financial restrictions and economic uncertainty, new vehicle sales have been diminishing for the past 29 months.”

FCAI says the COVID-19 pandemic has been the final straw for some automotive businesses, with Victorian new car sales down 66 per cent during August.

“Another two months in lockdown will have disastrous affects for the industry.  The simple fact is there are many businesses that will not make it through,” said Weber.

While FCAI supports a health driven recovery to the pandemic, Weber says the industry believes there should be room to move for businesses that have displayed the ability to operate in COVIDSafe conditions.

“Across Australia, automotive brands and their dealerships have initiated comprehensive and thorough COVIDSafe conditions in their facilities to ensure the ongoing protection and safety of staff and customers.

“Vehicle and motorcycle dealerships, by their very nature, have a large footprint and are sparsely populated.  Maintaining personal distance within the showrooms is no problem. The service areas of dealerships often have an even larger footprint, with the ability to allocate a single bay to each technician. Personal distancing in the service area is also no problem,” he said.

Weber added that most importantly, brands have comprehensive COVIDSafe plans and contact tracing for the various areas of their operations and the industry has the capability to safely return to work.

“Ideally, we would like to see the automotive retail network be included in the 100,000 workers allowed to return to work on the 28 September. We implore the Premier, Daniel Andrews, and his government to consider the automotive industry in their Stage 2 release plans.”

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Darren House

Darren House has been involved with motoring and motorsport media for more than four decades, working as a photographer, journalist, editor, public relations manager and marketing manager. He has produced material for numerous publications, including Auto Action, Chequered Flag, Motorsport News, Performance Street Car, Super Ford, Street Machine, Fast Fours & Rotaries, Hot Fours & Rotaries, Motorsport Legends and Truth Sport.

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