As the potential coronavirus impact continually grows, a wide swath of industry associations representing dealerships and repair shops are urging federal, state and local officials to consider the importance of motor vehicle supply and repair facilities in implementing orders to close nonessential businesses as a result of COVID-19.
The actions began with John Bozzella, president and chief executive officer of the Alliance for Automotive Innovation and National Automobile Dealers Association president and chief executive officer Peter Welch sending a joint letter to President Trump.
“As our nation continues to confront the coronavirus’s challenges, we want to underscore the importance of ensuring that consumers have access to a safe and well-functioning motor vehicle fleet,” Bozzella and Welch wrote in their letter. “Motor vehicles, both new and old, are critical to ensure that the public can get food and other necessities of life, as well as to continue to interact with one another in a manner consistent with public health officials’ recommendations. This applies not only to light-duty vehicles but also to the medium and heavy-duty trucks that are a crucial component of the nation’s transportation infrastructure.
“In fact, the federal government includes manufacturing (including auto manufacturing) as critical infrastructure when it comes to the economic continuity of the United States. Given the importance of safe transportation in addressing the coronavirus outbreak, we have an obligation to ensure that motor vehicles remain safe and are properly maintained,” they continued.
“To that end, it is vital that vehicle repair, maintenance, and sales facilities be considered essential operations when federal, state, and local officials impose certain requirements due to the coronavirus outbreak,” Bozzella and Welch went on to say.
Cody Lusk, president and chief executive officer of the American International Automobile Dealers Association (AIADA) shared a similar message. In a separate statement, Lusk emphasized that dealerships and their service shops are essential to the communities they serve.
“These are uncharted waters for all of us. As Americans determine the best way to move forward and protect each other, AIADA asks that lawmakers keep in mind the tremendous value dealerships offer their cities and towns, and the many important services they perform — from brake repairs to addressing critical recalls to providing vehicles to essential workers who can no longer rely on public transportation,” Lusk said.
“Dealers are working around the clock to ensure compliance with CDC guidelines and establish safe conditions for both their employees and customers. Local governments should allow them to continue to make available the essential services their communities require,” he added.
Meanwhile, six other trade associations representing the transportation industry, including the Auto Care Association, called on state and local governments to take these actions in a letter.
“Essential tasks rely on safe and efficient transportation. Government vehicle fleets (local, state and federal) and other essential personnel (doctors, nurses, healthcare provider, grocers, etc.) depend on businesses that support the safe operation of the transportation sector. Public and private transportation services are necessary to ensure the public may complete essential trips, including purchasing food and medicine or caring for loved ones. Businesses that provide the support or supplies necessary to operate must therefore also be deemed essential,” these six associations wrote.
The letter continues to urge, “the careful implementation of policies that restrict movement and business operations to ensure that businesses that provide critical support for public care and well-being are excluded from such restrictions.”
In addition to the Auto Care Association, the letter was signed by the U.S. Tire Manufacturers, American Trucking Association, Motor Equipment Manufacturers Association, Tire Industry Association and Automotive Oil Change Association.