In May and June, Fleet News surveyed all the major manufacturers to find out how they were responding to the coronavirus pandemic, how they are supporting their fleets customers and their views on the type of impact it would have on the fleet sector.
Here is BMW's response.
Fleet News spoke to Rob East, BMW Group UK general manager, corporate sales (answers as at 6/5/20)
How are you and your team staying operational in times of Covid-19?
BMW UK remains fully functional, with the BMW Group Key Account Management Team working remotely and maintaining proactive contact with customers.
What action are you taking to support fleets during the Covid-19 crisis?
Communication and open dialogue with our corporate and fleet customers throughout this period remains our priority. The BMW Key Account Management team are providing customers with the latest information, including updates on existing orders as well as supporting fleet customers with any other questions or consultative requirements – for example, fleet policy reviews.
What proportion of your retail network remained open for SMR business during lockdown?
A significant number of BMW retailers across the UK retained workshop capacity to offer essential service and repair to key workers in both retail and fleet customer channels.
Will Covid-19 have a bigger and longer lasting impact on our industry than the financial crisis in 2008? Please explain your view.
This is a uniquely challenging period and will clearly have a significant effect on both the UK automotive industry and businesses across the UK. However, it is too early to make any far-reaching assessments.
Looking elsewhere in the world and specifically China, BMW is starting to see the first signs of recovery. Our Chinese retail partners have now all reopened and showroom traffic is increasing as recovery occurs.
How much of a decline in total market fleet sales are you forecasting this year?
BMW Group is expecting the UK car market to be lower in 2020 than in previous years as a result of Coronavirus.
Please outline your exit strategy and how you believe the way business is carried out in future might change – the so-called ‘new normal’.
Once it is possible for car retailers to reopen, an increase in protective measures will be necessary in the medium term. Social distancing rules will be required in showrooms and service centres and strict hygiene guidelines for cleaning vehicles will be implemented.
In China, where BMW is already manufacturing vehicles again, and sales are picking up – both production and retail activities are subject to these increased protective measures.
This gives us a good indication of how to resume sales and production in the UK and, at the same time, minimise the risk of infection for our employees and customers.
How soon do you think fleet sales will recover after the coronavirus threat is over?
It is simply too early to predict the longer-term market implications.
However, we will continue to actively support our customers as their businesses adapt to the post Covid-19 reality.
Will we experience a break on the development of MaaS and fleet electrification?
BMW has used the time whilst production has paused for remodeling its plants to accommodate forthcoming electric models. In Munich, for instance, we are preparing for production of the fully-electric BMW i4 from 2021. Dingolfing is also gearing up for the iNext.
Customer deliveries of the first fully electric MINI commenced in March this year, and we will be prioritising customer pre-orders once production at Plant Oxford resumes.