Dealer groups seek “essential services” status during coronavirus precautions

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Updated Jan 29, 2021

Leaders of NADA, the American Truck Dealers (ATD) and the National Association of Minority Automobile Dealers (NAMAD), among others, sent a letter this week to President Donald Trump asking for clarification that vehicle sales are essential services that need to be maintained during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The ability to provide replacement cars and trucks in response to any number of scenarios will be vital to ensuring that those in need of reliable personal transportation continue to have access to it, the groups say, stressing that franchised car and truck dealers recognize the need to conduct even limited sales and leasing activities in manner that protects the general public, our customers and our employees.

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“Most consumers are concerned about their jobs, families and health and will not be in the market for new or used vehicles for weeks or months, so the overall effect of this additional capacity will be limited,” the groups wrote. “However, for the many people who may need a replacement vehicle or a new vehicle for any number of reasons, the additional sales activity surely would be defined as vital or essential to them.”

The letter notes virtually all of last year’s 500,000 sales of medium- and heavy-trucks were sold for use in commercial fleets and more than 70 percent of the nation’s tonnage freight is hauled in trucks sold by the authors’ truck dealer members.

“Additionally, many of the nation’s essential workers, including first responders, medical workers, grocery store employees, delivery drivers and others providing similar services may suddenly find they need a more reliable way to get to these critical jobs,” the letter states. “In short, there are thousands of scenarios that would prompt the urgent need for a car, SUV or truck now more than ever.”

The dealer groups say, “Our members would simply like to provide vehicles to those customers in a secure manner, while at the same time meeting our obligation to the public-at-large and our employees.”

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