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Colorado auto dealers hit hard by COVID-19 slowdown can now begin selling online

CADA: Business off nearly 50 percent statewide
Posted at 10:42 PM, Mar 28, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-29 11:51:08-04

DENVER -- The auto industry has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Manufacturing plants have been shuttered.

In Colorado, new car sales are down 40 to 50 percent, but Tim Jackson of the Colorado Automobile Dealers Association said in China, new car sales dropped 92 percent in February.

He said auto repair/service work is down about 20 to 40 percent in metro Denver, and down 10 to 30 percent in rural Colorado.

That's not the only hit.

The Denver Auto Show, one of the most popular annual events at the Colorado Convention Center, has been postponed.

"That's the bad news," Jackson said. "The good news is we have four more months to plan an even better show."

What's essential?

Jackson told Denver7 that new car showrooms are not deemed essential under Colorado's recently imposed "stay-at-home" rules.

"All salespeople have basically been sent home," he said, "but service bays and parts departments are deemed essential."

"That's understandable," he added. "If you have an essential job and your car breaks down, you need to get it fixed, but what if it can't be fixed and needs to be replaced?"

Jackson said 411 dealers were on a conference call, Friday, learning about updates to the state's rules.

He said car dealers can now sell online, as long as they follow protocols for safe delivery.

"Those operations are being run by managers," he said, "and they're doing it remotely, but the cars still have to be delivered at home, or in the repair department driveway."

Essential purchase

Jackson told Denver7 that a nurse in northern Colorado purchased a new car shortly after the "social distancing" rules went into effect, but before the "stay-at-home" order was issued.

"She signed paperwork at one end of the table, while the salesman was at the other," he said. "She thanked them afterward, emailed the dealership, and said, 'thanks for keeping me safe. Our beds are all full at the Northern Colorado Medical Center. I need to be there, and I didn't have a way to get there without my car.'"

With many people out of a job, Jackson knows that a new car is the last thing on many people's minds, but he said those who need a new car to get to their essential jobs, should be able to find a good deal online.

"A consumer can get that essential car that they need to get to that essential job, and they can do it with zero percent interest," he said.

New date for Auto Show

The president of the auto dealers association said they've identified some dates in late August for a rescheduled Denver Auto Show.

He added that a late summer show could be bigger, better and more exciting because they'll have more products with new models coming out.

He said it could be a record.

"I think there will be a lot of pent up demand, and not just for the excitement of the next new cars, but really for the excitement of being out of the family room in the basement...and back out onto the streets," he said.