Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer has loosened the state’s regulations surrounding automotive sales and will now allow dealerships to carry out online car sales amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The regulation changes will likely be a boost for auto dealers in the state, which have been hit hard by the pandemic lockdowns. General Motors sales fell 7 percent year-over-year in Q1 2020, largely due to complications brought on by the pandemic.
The executive order issued by Whitmer this week also declared auto dealerships as an essential service, allowing them to once again begin operating. The order determined “motor vehicle dealerships who are necessary to facilitate remote and electronic sales or leases, or to deliver motor vehicles to customers,” should remain open, “provided that showrooms remain closed to in-person traffic.” The dealerships had closed completely following Michigan’s initial lockdown order issued on March 24th and were unable to carry out remote vehicle sales.
Michigan has also extended its stay-at-home order beyond the original date of April 13th. Residents in the state will now be asked to stay at home until April 30th, though with the pandemic situation only getting worse in the United States, the order is likely to be extended further in the coming weeks.
According to J.D. Power data obtained by The Detroit News, Michigan auto sales had flatlined in the first week of April, essentially experiencing a 100% decline year-over-year. Some Michigan residents had even begun purchasing vehicles from dealers in Ohio, which elected to keep dealerships open for electronic sales. Michigan was only one of four states to ban auto sales altogether under its initial stay-at-home order issued in March.
GM production plants in the United States remain shut down for the time being. It’s not clear when they will come back online, either, which could lead to supply issues at dealerships for the remainder of 2020.
Source: The Detroit News