Cars have been a symbol of independence from the dawn of their invention. In the age of COVID-19, this root purpose is more relevant than ever. As individuals seek safer ways to travel and socially distanced leisure, new opportunities arise for dealers and manufacturers alike. Today we’ll theorize three ways the pandemic may temporarily and permanently impact the automotive sales industry. 

Safer Travel and Leisure Nationally

Airline companies globally have seen a massive reduction in passengers due to the pandemic. This makes sense, viruses spread best in small contained areas with recycled air making airplanes a risky travel choice. Not only that, with travel restrictions in many countries many individuals are now unable to travel internationally. In the absence of air travel, car travel has accelerated. While the reports have yet to be produced, many have experienced personally and anecdotally friends and family members opting for a road trip instead of a plane flight for national destinations. Additionally, camping has taken off in the summer of 2020 as the preferred vacation for many American families. According to CNET’s Road/Show reports, RV rentals have increased 650% this year. While car rental numbers are still unclear, it stands to reason that more folks are using vehicles in 2020 than in previous years, and the demand for short-term rentals may soon reflect that. 

Accelerating the Self-Driving Model

The demand for land travel only underscores the benefits of the eventual self-driving vehicles. Customers will extra-appreciate travel without needing to drive the vehicles. And, as we’ve discussed in the past, as cars become autonomous the purpose of vehicle features will shift radically and immediately to serve the role of a moving office/living room/entertainment space instead of mere transportation. While the connections may be undetectable at first, the pandemic is forever shifting the way we view modern cars in a way that marries perfectly with the eventual model of self-driving entertainment capsules. Manufacturers would be wise to investigate the ways consumers are using vehicles and RV’s during this time to gain insights into self-driving models for success.

Dealership Opportunities

Consumers are seeing vehicles differently. While the pandemic may have an eventual positive impact on car sales, in the short-term it’s more likely to uptick short-term leases. Does your dealership have a great program for short and long-term leases? Does your marketing highlight the solo benefits of car travel? If not, it may be a good time to establish these systems. Additionally, with the documented rise in RV rental and camping, it may be worthwhile to explore ways your dealership can partner with RV rentals or camping supply rental companies to further incentivize customers to use your vehicles for their planned leisure. 

How do you think the pandemic impact car travels down the road? Leave a comment below!

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