As car showrooms reopen to the public and the sector looks to get back to a new normal, our md of motor finance at BNP Paribas Personal Finance in the UK, Andrew Brameld, has considered how the motor industry has banded together to support the country throughout these uncertain times.
The COVID-19 pandemic has been the biggest strain on the UK since the Second World War – and all of us have been impacted no matter what sector we work in.
Some, like our teams here at BNP Paribas Personal Finance, have been working in isolation from our home offices, while others have been feeding the nation in our supermarkets or treating those affected in NHS hospitals.
The motor industry has undoubtedly been one of the sectors hardest hit by the pandemic. New and used car sales all but ground to a halt in May, while owners – reassured by a six-month extension to the validity of MOT certificates – have put off servicing and repairing their vehicles until they feel safe to head out of their homes to their dealership or repair centre.
But while sales have been down the industry has avoided resting on its laurels. Far from it, in fact.
More than 60 companies responded to government pleas for support in providing 20,000 new ventilators and big names within the motor industry came forward to offer their expertise to help battle the virus.
As car production came to halt, many operations shifted to manufacturing technology to save lives on the frontline – with manufacturers such as Ford, Jaguar Land Rover and Vauxhall joining brands from other sectors as part of the Ventilator Challenge UK consortium.
Others, like Rolls-Royce, Bentley and McLaren have been ferrying essentials to vulnerable people in isolation and delivering meals on wheels to NHS workers during the past months.
Nissan developed the Keeping Heroes Moving initiative, which has provided NHS workers with more than 100 free cars to support them commuting to and from work, while Arval, which is part of the wider BNP Paribas Group, also supported by donating vehicles in a similar way.
I, for one, am incredibly proud of the way this industry has united behind a common cause in this time of unprecedented difficulty. Not only does this demonstrate genuine compassion for the communities we work in, but it showcases the fighting spirit necessary to emerge from this crisis with a stronger, more resilient, UK automotive sector.
And as one of the key drivers of our nation’s economy, I am sure a thriving motor industry is something we can all get behind.
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