New rules allow for the buying, selling and servicing of cars during lockdown

The Department of Trade, Industry, and Competition has published a new gazette regarding the sale and purchase of cars and emergency repairs under level 4 lockdown.

The new directions require all car dealerships and used car outlets to prepare for reopening operations in line with Covid-19 risk mitigation measures.

The Gazette came into effect late Tuesday, 12 May, and contains strict health and safety guidelines.

The following trading activities with regard to cars are permitted during alert level 4:

  • Trade in new and used cars;
  • Wholesale trade of new and used cars by original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and importers;
  • Export and import of all category of cars through national ports of entry under strict guidelines; and
  • Trade-in purchases, car lease scheme returns and wholesale trading of used cars.

Car sales will be allowed under the following conditions, and in three phases:

Phase One:

  • All dealerships and used car outlets will operate with up to 30% of employment subject to a maximum of one employee or customer per every 9 square metres of floor space: Provided that small businesses may operate with a minimum of five employees.
  • The majority of car sales will be done remotely via the internet or e-Commerce or telephone. Personal contact will be kept to a minimum and only on appointment under very strict hygiene and social distancing conditions in line with the Regulations.
  • Test drives will be conducted on appointment only.
  • Home delivery of vehicles with full sanitisation will be mandatory.
  • Where possible, electronic, or virtual signatures will be used for finance and insurance documentation.
  • Car auctions for all categories will be conducted online in compliance with the Consumer Protection Act Regulations.

Phase Two:

  • All dealerships and used car outlets will operate with up to 60% of employment.
  • Limited customers will be allowed to enter the dealership under very strict hygiene and social distancing conditions in line with the regulations.
  • Remote vehicle sales will continue for those potential customers with access to online services.
  • Test drives can be arranged on site by appointment only, and under very strict hygiene conditions including fully sanitised cars.
  • On site pick-ups and deliveries of fully sanitised cars will be allowed under strict hygiene conditions with an option of home delivery of fully sanitised cars, if possible.
  • Car auctions for all categories will be conducted online in compliance with the CPA Regulations and limited physical contact will be allowed for viewing prior to the auction under very strict hygiene conditions including fully sanitised cars.

Phase Three: From 8 June 2020 until alert level 4 is lifted:

  • All dealerships and used car outlets will operate with up to 100% of employment.
  • Customer on-site contact will be allowed, but kept to a minimum, whilst remote vehicle sales is encouraged.
  • Test drives can be arranged on site by appointment only, and under very strict hygiene conditions including fully sanitised cars.
  • On site pick-ups and deliveries of fully sanitised cars will be allowed under strict hygiene conditions with an option of home delivery of fully sanitised cars if possible.
  • Car auctions for all categories will be conducted online in compliance with the CPA Regulations and limited physical contact will be allowed for viewing prior to the auction under very strict hygiene conditions including fully sanitised cars and limits on the numbers of persons at auctions in order to maintain a distance of at least 1.5m between persons at all times, including when entering or exiting from an auction.

All car maintenance and repairs will be confirmed through appointment only.

Unsolicited walk-ins will only be allowed under exceptional and emergency circumstances and a full record of each such instance will be kept in writing at the premises of the business for a period of 3 months after the state of disaster has been lifted, the document said.

George Mienie, AutoTrader CEO, said: “This directive is undoubtedly good news for motorists and the motor industry alike. Based on an AutoTrader survey, the financial well-being of a whopping 65% of vehicle-buying consumers in South Africa has been negatively impacted by the nationwide lockdown.

“Many (30% to be precise) are under pressure to replace their vehicle within the next four weeks. This is being reflected in a massive increase in online searches. The highest number of car searches in level 4 period was recorded on 10 May; we recorded over 1.3 million searches on that day alone. In the last two weeks, enquiries to car dealers has risen by an astounding 69%.”

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New rules allow for the buying, selling and servicing of cars during lockdown