A Swindon motor dealer has stopped the collection of new cars from his showroom, saying it is "the right thing to do" as Covid-19 runs rampant through the community and a 'critical incident' is declared at Great Western Hospital.
When the third national lockdown was announced on January 4, motor dealers were thrown a lifeline: they could offer customers a click and collect service – drivers could order their new car online and collect it from the showroom.
But after operating a click and collect system for a week, Dominic Threlfall, managing director of Hyundai and Suzuki franchise Pebley Beach, pulled the plug saying it went "against the spirit" of the lockdown.
It is believed he is the first in the UK motor industry to adopt such a stance – and has prompted national debate in Motor Industry circles.
"I've been uncomfortable allowing click and collect for car sales," Dom told customers on the firm's Facebook page.
"This does have a massive impact on our business, but I think it is the right thing to do.
"In my view, a new car is not 'essential' and we have all been kidding ourselves or making the best of a bad opportunity."
Dom said he would honour orders already placed by click and collect with deliveries to motorist's homes, but would not offer future collections until the lockdown is lifted.
He said he had taken the decision with the best interests of his staff and the local community at heart, but maintains that click and collect offered by car dealers is incredibly safe, especially compared to other industries – just morally wrong.
“I’ve had a massive amount of support from industry colleagues, mostly by private message, as they fear reprisals from their manufacturer partners, who are still issuing targets and getting us to chase car sales,” added Dom.
The move was welcomed on social media. One customer hailed it a 'brave but very sensible' decision. Another – who works for the NHS – thanked him on behalf of critical workers in the town.
Pebley Beach will continue to offer aftersales services and MoTs, which the firm considers vital to keeping key workers on the road.