Germany’s automotive lobby calls for car sales to resume

14 April 2020

14 April 2020

Germany’s automotive associations and its largest union have written to Chancellor Angela Merkel, asking for car sales to be allowed to resume as soon as possible.

A letter from the VDA (German Association of the Automotive Industry), the VDIK (Association of International Motor Vehicle Manufacturers), the ZDK (German Federation of Motor Trades and Repairs) and the IG Metall trade union, aims to ensure economic activities are revived as quickly as possible while ensuring health is protected.

′Companies cannot take on any more vehicles’

The groups pointed out that manufacturers, suppliers and dealerships are coming under increasing threat with production lines at a standstill, salesrooms remaining closed and vehicle sales suffering as a result. With pre-financed stock sitting stationary in storage due to forced closures, no sales can be made at outlets.

′Companies cannot take on any more vehicles. As a result, supply and production also come to a standstill or cannot be restarted,’ the letter said. To minimise the risk of insolvency at a large number of companies, the groups asked for the halt on car-sales to be lifted, in coordination with health authorities and federal states.

They reasoned that in the automotive industry, customer and employee protection against infection can be ′guaranteed to a special degree’. This is down to areas like showrooms having a comparatively large amount of available space and a relatively small number of people accessing them at the same time.

′The minimum distances between individual persons of 1.5 to 2 metres can be maintained much more easily than in grocery stores, DIY stores, pet shops and flower shops,’ the letter argued. The automotive trade has no checkout queues, crowded shelves or personal contact with the transfer of goods and cash, it went on to say.

Registration decline

Germany saw a comparatively small fall in passenger car registrations in March, (38%) when compared to the declines seen in Italy (85%), France (72%) and Spain (69%), according to the KBA. This has still led to a problematic first quarter in Germany, with the overall downturn in new passenger-car registrations at 20.3%. It has also been one of the hardest-hit countries in terms of production losses. Roughly 457,000 units have failed to leave its factories, almost a third of Europe’s total losses.

Carmakers are therefore planning to get their factories back online as soon as possible to help curb the trend. Daimler is hoping to reopen its engine facility in Germany on 20 April, with the Mercedes-Benz Sindelfingen and Bremen car plants to follow. Volkswagen (VW) is also looking to slowly increase production at its German facilities, so more components can be sent to factories in China.

In order to reopen facilities, manufacturers are laying out plans for altered shift patterns, more hygiene stations and new regulations on employee behaviour in the workplace. Only by adapting operating conditions to the pandemic, can manufactures hope to return to some semblance of normality and prevent a continued downward spiral in the automotive sector.