NJ CAR President Jim Appleton Testifies In Front Of Senate Special Committee
Assures Legislators That Dealerships Are Prepared To Meet
The Challenge & Operate Safely In A Post- Covid 19 World
NJ CAR President Jim Appleton spoke remotely at the first meeting of the Senate Fiscal Recovery Strategists meeting, a bipartisan group dedicated to working with the Murphy Administration and the Legislature to develop plans to restart New Jersey’s economy.“Car sales were off 70 – 80 % last month, and May sales are expected to be no better than half of what dealers saw in May of 2019,” Appleton said. “But dealers have told me, now that they are permitted to resume by-appointment sales activity in their showrooms, new car sales could rebound in June.”
In his testimony, Mr. Appleton noted that dealership service departments have been operating under strict CDC and OSHA guidelines since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis and dealerships have applied these same health and safety measures to their showroom operations. Asked about the typical dealership’s ability to protect the health and safety of employees and consumers if a resurgence of the virus takes hold in the Fall, he reassured the committee that dealers will be ready.
“By stepping up online and remote sales capabilities, dealership sales can be permitted and where a visit to the dealership is required, consumers and employees can be protected,” he stated. “In other words, this doesn’t have to be an ‘either or’ situation: either shut down and be safe or open up and risk widespread reinfection. Now that we know how this virus works, retail businesses like car dealerships don’t have to be shut down; they simply need to operate safely and dealerships have already demonstrated that they can do so.”
Jim was joined on the panel by Tony Fernandez of Mahwah Buick-GMC -Cadillac, who spoke at length about the impact the shutdown has had on his business. Mr. Fernandez also sought to reassure the Senators that dealerships like his have already demonstrated they can operate safely by investing in PPE, implementing rigorous sanitization protocols for facilities and vehicles, and investing in online and remote retailing tools that will reduce the number of face-to-face encounters required to purchase and take delivery of a new car.
Last week New Jersey new car dealers were given the green light by Governor Murphy to carry out sales activities in showrooms, provided dealers follow strict CDC and OSHA guidelines designed to keep employees and customers safe. These measures include by-appointment-only visits, reduced occupancy in the showroom, explicit social distancing, careful use of PPE and extensive sanitization of vehicles and dealership facilities. Various other business advocacy organizations appeared on the panel, as well, urging the Senate Committee and the Governor to permit their membership to reopen under similar tight controls.
One of the new rules addresses requirements for loan forgiveness and the other outlines PPP loan review procedures and related borrower and lender responsibilities.