The ‘Lockdown’ has hit the motor industry very hard. Today at an online press conference Renault Ireland announced some interesting sales incentives as it sees some green shoots slowly rising as manufacturing gradually resumes. Ireland boss Paddy Magee said his team are working hard to make sure Renault’s business model and dealer network can remain viable, while also encouraging sales of new and used cars and light commercial vehicles.
Cast your mind back to 2009 – it was a horror show for the motor industry in terms of sales as the economic downfall hit buyers and industry hard. Magee says ‘Ireland has never recovered fully from that downturn in the motor industry’. The first priority has been try to protect its network and cash-flow that is a problem (for all businesses starting back up). Magee: ‘We don’t know what will happen in May but it will be significantly down’. All the stats show the previous months are a virtual write-off with lock down.
Magee: ‘The next 12-15 months will be critical’ and to this end Renault has deployed guidelines to its network and is doing all its can to get its showrooms and dealership ready for social distancing and the all important act of car selling. Spacious dealer showrooms are quite well prepared for the needs of social distancing as they tend to have more room than most other forms of retail outlet. New solo/autonomous test drives will be introduced as part of the ‘new customer journey’ as will video brochures of vehicles – it’s all being prepared for. Magee says ‘Everything has too be customer led’. Renault Ireland has issued clear dealership opening guidelines on “Getting back to business”. These are mandatory to protect staff and customers and include revised rotas for staff, a limit on customer numbers in the dealership at any one time, drop and go key process and unaccompanied test drives – to name a few.
Noble Effort: Early on Renault Ireland did a lot to support the fight against COVID-19 and place cars in the hands of returning medics in need of transport. This was done in partnership with AXA insurance. Magee says they have received 235 applicants and the scheme is now fully subscribed and credits Renault’s Liz O’ Gorman for driving it forward.
Sales Encouragement: Some of the sales incentives include a buy now pay later scheme. The ‘3+2+1’ Renault offer has 3 months deferred payments, 2.02% APR and the 1 is €1,000 cash-back to the customer. Renault, who has its own bank, says this scheme represents a saving to the customer over high street banks of €2,500.
Magee stresses its ‘payment deferral’ is a genuine one with no penalties worked in to payments later on. Magee added the motor industry is no different from any other and he understands what people are going through financially. Those (businesses) who have come through ‘2009’ are well placed to contribute to the recovery and Magee suggest the Irish government (when it is formed) and the industry need to sit down and take a strong look at a VRT reduction. The VRT tax take on a new car is €5,500 and should be reduced. Renault is calling for a short term VRT reduction to help the industry and acknowledges some businesses in the wider industry will have to close. Ireland has a carpark with an average age over 9 years old. Magee says ‘not everyone can afford a new vehicle and in order to reduce the age we must reduce the age of the carpark to reduce CO2’.