UPDATE (May 3, 2020): Our friends from Kia Motors Philippines have also released guidelines on their dealer operations in areas transitioning towards GCQ. This article has been updated to reflect the change.
If there is one sector in the Philippine economy that has been hit really hard by COVID-19, that would be the Philippine auto industry. With most dealers closing their doors since mid-March, automakers in the Philippines have effectively more than a month’s worth of lost sales and revenues. However, there seems to be a glimmer of hope in the coming weeks. With the government announcing the transition of some areas in the Philippines from ECQ to general community quarantine (GCQ), also known as the “new normal”, automotive dealers can finally have the chance to recover.
Under the “new normal,” automotive dealers are allowed to operate as long as they comply with guidelines such as social distancing. Areas under GCQ will more or less allow the auto industry to start recovering in these areas. With that in mind, some automakers have already announced how they plan to operate in these new conditions.
Maxus Philippines (AC Motors)
Maxus Philippines–one of the automakers under Ayala’s AC Motors, has released a set of guidelines they will be implementing in their dealers. Maxus Philippines’ General Manager Reginald See stressed, “By the time we are permitted to operate and our customers allowed to visit our dealerships once again, we will implement certain guidelines, procedures, and systems in order to ensure our readiness and guarantee the safety of our employees, business partners, and customers.”
According to the Sino-British automaker, customers will still be greeted with “the same caring professionalism, expertise, and courtesy as before,” but with added measures to ensure their health and personal protection, such as:
- Customers (scheduled and walk-ins) will be required to wear facemasks. If they forget to bring one, the dealer will provide, and must be worn all the time the customer is in the dealership.
- Customers will be screened for body temperature. If the reading exceeds 37 degrees C, the customer shall be refused entry.
- Customers are urged to maintain physical distancing of at least one meter (3.3 feet) from other customers and staff when within the premises.
- Customers/guests will be encouraged to use hand sanitizers, which will be made accessible in strategic locations.
- Aftersales services are by appointment only. Customers are advised to call their Maxus dealers first.
Additionally, every Maxus Philippines dealership will ensure that its operations, staff, sales, service, and delivery crew will follow the safety protocols as enumerated in its dealership operations safety measures:
- Facilities such as the customer lounge, comfort rooms, and door handles will be regularly disinfected.
- Application of protective material to vehicles’ seats, steering wheel covers, shift knob, floor mat, and bumper covers throughout the time the vehicle is being serviced.
- Use of disposable gloves and proper protective gear by service team throughout the entire service process, from receiving to releasing. Car keys will be sanitized before turnover to the customer.
- Proper disposal of any used parts left in the car.
- At the billing/invoicing, staff will wear masks and gloves and maintain proper physical distancing. Only sanitized pens will be offered to customers for their signatures, and payment cards shall be disinfected before and after transactions. Change for money payments shall be disinfected prior to handing out to customers.
- For proper physical distancing among staff, only 50% of the service workforce will report on-site, while the rest will remain on a work-from-home or stay-at-home status.
Vehicle pick-up and delivery services, express check-ins, and home car care services will be subject to prevailing quarantine conditions of the different local governments.
Hyundai Asia Resources, Inc.
Hyundai Asia Resources, Inc. (HARI), the distributor of South Korean automaker Hyundai in the Philippines will roll out its so-called Guidelines for Protection and Safety (GPS) to help its employees, dealership frontliners, business partners, and customers navigate the next normal upon resumption of operations.
Hyundai GPS is a wide range of health and safety guidelines covering the entire value chain of HARI, from importation, assembly, office operations, vehicle delivery to dealerships, showroom operations, sales operations, after-sales, customer relations, test drives, and unit release. The guidelines of Hyundai GPS are based on global standards, risk assessment, and protocols of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).
Some of the measures under Hyundai GPS include:
- Social distancing of at least one meter apart
- Dealership front liners wearing the stipulated PPE gear
- Installation of sanitation booths equipped with thermal scanners and sanitizing material for incoming customers and employees
- Posting of safety reminders and availability of antibacterial sprays in all key areas–showroom, service bays, customer lounges, and toilets
- Provision of surgical masks, alcohol and hand sanitizers to customers
- Disinfection services including the option to fumigate new and serviced vehicles
- Regular sanitation of dealerships and parts warehouse.
For test drives and other transactions, dealer staff will regularly wipe down all “high contact points,” such as car door handles, steering wheels, and car keys.
Toyota Motor Philippines
Toyota Motor Philippines has announced it will begin dealer operations in GCQ areas starting on May 4. The Japanese automaker has also revealed that they will enforce a host of measures to prevent the spread of the disease inside their dealerships. They did not specify exactly what measures these will be, but we expect it won’t be far from what Maxus and Hyundai have already announced.
Kia Motors Philippines (AC Motors)
Kia Philippines has released a set of guidelines for their dealership operations. A 9-Step Guide to Facility Preparation was issued before allowing employees to report for work. This involved disinfecting all areas and maintaining regular sanitation practices, posting proper markings for physical distancing (about 2 meters), installing sanitizing and handwashing solutions at strategic locations, ensuring that all areas were properly ventilated, among other guidelines.
Moreover, Kia Philippines also provided a 9-Step Guide for Employee Preparation which included assigning a Dealer Health and Safety representative to check on employees’ health with CoViD-19 rapid test kits for administration to employees every two weeks, providing shuttle services or arrangement of carpools to avoid taking public transportation, subjecting each one to a thermal scan before entry and a ‘no mask, no entry policy,’ encouraging them to avoid handing out business cards or any material that may be a source of the virus, among other regulations. The automaker will also be implementing flexible working hours, shifting or skeletal workforce, and staggered break time schedules to keep the number of people in the office to a minimum.
Customers who wish to view a unit of the vehicle they’re considering are advised to set an appointment with their sales consultant beforehand. Once they arrive at the showroom, clients must be wearing a face mask, observe sanitation measures, and physical distancing of two meters. For those who would like to test drive, all vehicles will be fully sanitized inside and out after each use and are guaranteed to be safe.
Even after the sale has been made, strict health measures shall continue to be in place. Customers are advised to book service appointments and observe physical distancing. Technicians will be wearing personal protective gear, while all tools used and the vehicles before and after being serviced will be sanitized. All serviced vehicles will undergo the same quality inspection and test drive as needed but customers may expect delays as the dealership prioritizes health and safety in its operations.
Recently, the Association of Vehicle Importers and Distributors (AVID), which consists of 20 member companies representing 26 global brands, reported a 34.4% drop in auto sales during the first quarter of the year. It won’t be surprising to find out that it will take a long time before the Philippine auto industry bounces back to pre-COVID-19 levels.
Based on government data, the Philippine auto industry, directly and indirectly, employs 408,000 people. Suffice to say, the Philippine auto industry contributes a significant chunk to the Philippine economy.