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Are auto dealers open during coronavirus? They say they’re ‘essential’

Most auto dealers and service stations are keeping their doors open during the coronavirus pandemic, saying they should not be forced to close because they provide an essential service.

Dealers, who have been hit hard by the crisis already, say their businesses are essential to many Americans who need to buy or fix cars to get to their jobs or other critical destinations like hospitals.

“You have millions of workers who still have to get to their jobs in health care and all types of industries like that, and they need their vehicles,” said Marc Cannon, chief marketing officer of AutoNation, the country’s largest dealer network.

To make people comfortable, dealers are practicing social distancing in their showrooms, offering to deliver purchased vehicles, allowing solo test rides and eliminating certain in-person activities to make a purchase.

They’re also offering steep discounts in the form of incentives passed along by the auto manufacturers, which are scrambling to keep selling vehicles. Auto sales are expected to drop sharply due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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