The UK new car market declined -44.4 per cent in March, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). 203,370 fewer cars were registered than in March 2019, as showrooms closed in line with government advice to contain the spread of the coronavirus.
Fixter, an online car maintenance service provider, has published survey results which show that essential businesses, such as independent garages, are valued more than before the crisis. Specifically, 89 per cent of customers who rely on their cars now think that it is more important than ever to keep it in a good condition.
The UK Government exemption on MOTs for six months from 30 March 2020, may have come as welcome news to many motorists, but the NTDA has also raised serious concerns about its impact on future vehicle roadworthiness. The fact that the emphasis has been placed on motorists to ensure their vehicles are kept in a roadworthy condition, further raises concerns. In short, the NTDA believes this general exemption will create long-term problems.
The Motor Ombudsman has upgraded its online Knowledge Base with the introduction of a new category on the Coronavirus (COVID-19). It has been designed to help consumers answer frequently asked queries on car ownership, vehicle maintenance and dispute resolution, following the latest government measures which have recently been implemented in the UK.
European Tyre Enterprise Limited (ETEL) has promoted Mark Slade, managing director of Kwik Fit GB, to the new position of ETEL Group Deputy CEO. Slade will continue in his role leading Kwik Fit, but will also take on additional group responsibilities as part of a broader remit.
At the start of March, Tyres & Accessories met with UK retail network manager, Bridgestone EMIA Mark Widdows in order to learn more about the newly relaunched First Stop tyre retail proposition. The first thing we at T&A noticed was that the tyre retail network previously known simply as First Stop is now badged as First Stop Tyres and Car Services. This subtle but important development shows that the network is moving with current trends that show that leading tyre retail chains are generating almost as much turnover from servicing and light repair work as they are from tyres themselves. It also suggests the level at which the newly-rejuvenated network it planning to pitch its offer. Put the tyres and services language together with the 220-branch goal and it is clear that First Stop is aiming for the top five of the tyre retail tree. And as far as target customers are concerned, this means drivers of roughly three-year-old cars – the post-dealership motorist. It will also have a keen car, van and 4×4 focus.
With the Tire Cologne Show in Germany already cancelled due to the Coronavirus pandemic, the UK and European tyre markets are facing an unprecedented trading period. However, according to SD International, digital communication is now proving to be a valuable lifeline to keep the industry moving until the market is able to resume normal trading procedures. With this in mind, SD-International is continuing to promote its three private brands Zeta, Pace and Toledo “in support of the tyre trade”.
Following talk of a possible MOT suspension, the government has clarified the position. Cars, motorcycles and vans will be granted a six-month MOT exemption from 30 March 2020 in order to allow people to carry on with essential travel. This means vehicles that would usually would require an MOT test won’t need one from 30 March. However, the government does say “vehicles must be kept in a roadworthy condition, and garages will remain open for essential repair work”, adding that “drivers can be prosecuted if driving unsafe vehicles.”
Even emergency vehicles need breakdown assistance, servicing and tyres, and this is one main reason why the government has authorised garages and fast-fits to remain open during the COVID-19 pandemic. ATS Euromaster confirms that most of its service centres remain open following the Prime Minister’s announcement yesterday, however they ask customers for understanding should prearranged jobs be postponed in order to prioritise emergency fleet work.
Yesterday Prime Minister Boris Johnson outlined strict stay-at-home measures for the whole of the UK. These effectively amount to a country-wide lockdown and will be enforced by the police. As a result, gatherings outside of households are effectively banned and shops have to close. However, reading the small print reveals that automotive garages are within the limited number of retailers that will be allowed to remain open. And therefore tyre centres will be allowed to keep going as well. Motorists looking for information on garages in the Covid-19 lockdown can find more on Tyrepress’s sister site, WhatTyre.