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Are Australia's new-car dealerships still open for business?

The Toyota HiLux ute is the best-selling new vehicle in Australia so far this year, but will that change?

As the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic continues to grip the world, its consequences are being felt far and wide, so how severe is the impact on Australia’s new-vehicle dealerships?

At the time of writing, the good news is it’s more or less 'business as usual', with Australian prime minister Scott Morrison declaring "people can still go to car yards".

While the federal government shutdown non-essential services from midday yesterday, automotive brands and their dealer networks will remain open to provide sales and service support to their customers.

Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) chief executive Tony Weber said: “The operation of motor vehicle dealerships, their service and repair centres, and key supply chain facilities play a critical part in supplying essential services to the community.

“With the increasing focus on social distancing, safe and reliable private transport is essential to enable communities and businesses to continue to operate.”

That said, Mr Weber did note that the automotive industry has made some adjustments to protect its employees and customers.

“The automotive industry rates the preservation of the health and safety of our employees, dealer network and customers as our number-one priority,” he said.

“To this end, the industry is focused on ensuring that best practice is adopted throughout our Australian offices and dealer retail and service outlets.

“The industry has considered and adopted a number of additional hygiene and safety protocols, including extended cleaning processes, personal distancing and contactless sales and service consultations – all with the number one priority of ensuring the safety and security of our communities.

“It is largely business as usual – but with extra care and consideration for our key stakeholders.”

With temporary factory closures becoming the norm overseas, supply of new vehicles and spare parts is increasingly under pressure, although the full impact of this is yet to be felt locally, according to Mr Weber.

“The industry is keeping a watchful eye on the activities of parent companies across the globe, including in Europe, the USA, the UK and Asia, where production facilities in some plants have been temporarily closed,” he said.

“At this stage there are no major restrictions on stock of either vehicles or parts.”

If there is a change in any or the above as this global crisis continues to develop, CarsGuide will be sure to provide an update.