Monday 1 June will see car dealership showrooms start to reopen in England. But those in need of a new motor should expect a car-buying experience like never before.
Plastic screens, one-way routes and solo test drives are just part of a raft of safety measures that showrooms will be implementing to adhere to government advice when reopening.
With car sales falling through the floor in recent months, dealerships will be wanting to make up for lost time. But an industry insider told us that won't guarantee fantastic deals from day one.
Read on to find out:
Not every showroom will be open on the first day, but there have already been a number of announcements from dealerships advertising the fact that their doors will indeed open from Monday.
Sue Robinson, director of the National Franchised Dealers Association (NFDA), told us: 'Most franchised dealers are willing to reopen on 1 June or as close to that date as possible.
'A number of businesses may reopen gradually as they plan to ramp up operations over the summer as demand returns to the showrooms.'
Showrooms in Northern Ireland are set to open from 8 June. At the time of writing, dates for Scotland and Wales had not yet been confirmed.
Thanks to weeks of work and comprehensive guidelines put out jointly by the NFDA and SMMT (Society for Motoring Manufacturers and Traders) on how to adhere to the government's rules while functioning as a dealership, it looks like the risks are being as well managed as possible.
All the cars on display will be locked. People should still be able to view the interior of the car, but on request or by appointment.
After being viewed, each car will be cleaned and disinfected, with particular attention paid to touch points such as door handles, the steering wheel and the gear stick.
Other precautions being taken include:
Yes, but test drives will be a bit different to normal, in the following ways.
Sytner Group, which operates dealerships for premium manufacturers, such as Aston Martin, Audi, BMW/Mini, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo to name a few, has published its advice for dealerships online, including how to conduct test drives.
Whether buying a new or used car from a newly opened showroom, an industry source told Which? that it would be a mistake to assume that dealers will be offering better-than-normal deals from day one.
While dealers will likely need sales more than buyers need new cars, dealers may initially hold off on cut-price deals while they weigh demand against supply.
That said, we think this 'weighing-up' period will be short and great deals will be put in place sooner rather than later. But if you hit the showrooms next week and can't get a deal you like immediately, try leaving it a few weeks to see if things change.
Our source also warned about the possibility of less scrupulous dealers trying to offer lower part-exchange values for your current car, by claiming COVID-19 has caused a drop in car values. This isn't the case.
If you want to buy a car based on part-exchange, shop around for deals on the car you want and see what different dealerships will offer you for your existing car. Don't accept a bad deal 'because of the pandemic'.
As an example of this last point, the UK's most popular car, the , has a mind-boggling nine different trim levels (all of which have additional optional extras). The Fiesta has an 18-week lead time for cars that aren't already in stock.
A final tip - call the dealership ahead of time. This isn't a buying tactic, but more to help dealerships manage their capacity. Even if dealerships aren't operating an appointment system, calling ahead should make it easier for them to manage numbers and therefore the risk of coronavirus infection.
There's a good chance you've seen stories about our air being cleaner and emissions dropping in recent months; one of the few positive side effects of lockdown.
As an example, the journal Nature Climate Change recently reported that daily global CO2 emissions had decreased by 17% as of early April 2020 compared with average 2019 levels.
According to a survey we carried out before the pandemic, 14% of prospective car buyers are thinking of going electric for their next car, while a further 28% are considering a hybrid. These figures may have increased given the current situation and effect on our environment.
The pandemic and environmental news might just encourage a few more owners to ditch traditional petrol or diesel cars in favour of a hybrid or completely electric car.
Below, we've highlighted two alternative-fuel cars we've tested recently.
2019 brought us the first ever hybrid version of the long-running and popular Honda CR-V.
When we drove the hybrid before it landed in dealerships in the UK, we were blown away by how good the hybrid system felt to drive and were left with the initial impression that it was more capable than its petrol-only counterpart.
Since then, we've fully lab tested Honda's CR-V hybrid and are quietly confident its popularity will continue.
We contacted Honda to see what sort of delays new CR-V customers might have to endure from 1 June when showrooms open again, but were assured by a spokesperson that there is 'plenty of stock of all grades and all colours - petrol and hybrid.'
If you're ready to go fully electric, the Renault Zoe might make your shortlist.
A claimed range of 245 miles for a car that costs less than £30,000 is incredibly good value. Such a range puts it on par with much more expensive vehicles from Tesla and Jaguar, and in doing so removes two barriers to owning an electric vehicle: range anxiety and the cost of the car itself.
The latest Zoe is a bit more appealing than its predecessor, too. The interior has been completely redesigned and feels more upmarket, plus its incredibly easy to drive.
Renault told us they have a large number of Zoes in stock around the UK and have just launched a tool that allows prospective owners to reserve their Renault of choice.
All Zoe buyers will also get a free wallbox for quick charging at home. Renault has confirmed that after a brief, unavoidable hiatus due to the coronavirus crisis, its supplier is currently installing wallboxes again.