Van service centres still open during coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic

  • UK van and pickup dealer networks remain open
  • But many are limiting work to essential servicing and repairs
  • Government health and safety advice is being followed

If there is one thing that's certain about the current coronavirus situation, it's that vans, pickups and businesses need to keep moving.

We've already covered coronavirus (COVID-19) hygiene advice for van and pickup drivers in a separate story. But we've also been speaking to as many manufacturers as we've been able to get hold of here in the UK to find out how the pandemic is affecting them, and in turn the van and pickup customers that rely on their services.

While the social distancing advice has inevitably resulted in a lot of temporary factory closures, every manufacturer we've spoken to has been quick to reassure us that they are doing everything they can to keep their UK networks going in order to support our essential services, emergency workers and especially the NHS.

As long as vans can continue to get the servicing and parts they need, not only will businesses be able to keep going, it will also help ensure that food continues to reach stores and medical supplies get where they are needed.

Sales operations are beginning to be wound down now, however, in order to best keep staff and customers as safe as possible.

Here's the lowdown in alphabetical order:

Fiat Professional

Fiat's UK van dealer and servicing network is still functioning, and aims to continue doing so as long as government guidelines allow.

On the factory side, Italy has been hit hard by COVID-19, but as things stand the Ducato plant in Atessa, Italy, is doing its best to stay open; it is halted at the moment [Thursday 19 March 2020] due to parts supply issues, but it hopes it will get going again on Sunday 22 March 2020. Production of the Fiorino and Doblo currently continues in Turkey as far as we understand it.

The Talento is built by Renault in France, however, and that factory is shut.

Ford

Ford already has plans in place to communicate these details with its customers, but at the moment the franchised dealer network is continuing to operate as normally as possible, while working to ensure that vehicles are fully 'clean' before passing through the workshop and back into customer hands.

Mobile service vans are also still running, with the option for keys to vehicles requiring repairs or servicing to be left in a pre-arranged place - allowing customers and technicians to follow the recommended social distancing rules.

The Ford-owned Trust Ford network specifically is following this pattern of operation at present:

  • >> Sites all open and welcoming all customers Car, CV and Aftersales
  • >> Business continuity plans are in place covering any future developments - Board staying close to Government updates and sharing colleague updates via Employee app, which everyone has
  • >> Communication with customers across all channels started on Monday (16 March 2020), stating: ‘Health and safety is a priority. In addition to usual rigorous product and workshop cleaning processes, vehicle touch points including steering wheel, indicator and wiper stalks, gear lever and door handles are being additionally wiped over prior to handover.’
  • >> Trust Ford is also now offering, where possible, collection and delivery for its Motability customers

Ford's production processes are starting to be impacted. The Transit Custom line will stop at the end of Thursday 19 March 2020, and the Transit line will stop at the end of Saturday 21 March 2020; both models are built in Turkey, and initially production will stop for two weeks. This is a response to slowing market demand and parts supply.

However, Ford UK is keen to stress that its sales and services at Transit Centres are not currently affected but this due to outstanding supply of stock vehicles and parts.

Iveco

Here's the latest info (31 March 2020) on Iveco's UK servicing network

'Iveco’s Assistance Non-Stop 24 hour roadside assistance programme continues to operate at full capacity. The DVSA MOT test has been suspended for 3 months from March 21, 2020, however all Iveco workshops remain open and are able to carry out planned maintenance inspections (PMI) to ensure that vehicles remain in the best operating condition.'

Beyond this, there have been some factory interruptions due to parts supply and other COVID-19 related issues. But in the UK you shouldn't have too much trouble keeping moving.

LDV / Maxus

LDV - which is in the process of being rebranded as Maxus across the UK - says:

'The team is remaining operational, while following all health guidelines. The parts distribution centre and after sales departments are continuing to work to help keep customers on the road.'

We're anticipating there may be some delays to the arrival of its new e Deliver 3 electric van and Deliver 9 large van, however. These are built in China.

MAN

The MAN TGE is built at Volkswagen's plant in Poland, and that is closing for 10 days from Thursday 19 March 2020.

We're waiting to hear back about the UK dealer network; assume operation normal for now, within guidelines, especially given MAN is primarily a truck manufacturer and there will be plenty of those that need to be kept going.

Mercedes-Benz Vans

This is the latest, updated statement from Mercedes-Benz Vans UK (as of 24 March 2020):

'Mercedes-Benz Vans is maintaining its long-term commitment to Keeping Businesses Moving against what is proving to be a very fluid, and therefore continually changing backdrop. Critical UK Transport sectors in which Mercedes-Benz vehicles are now playing a vital role include the Emergency Services, Healthcare, Pharmaceuticals and Councils.

'Our franchise partners are therefore at the frontline in delivering on Mercedes-Benz Vans’ customer support commitments. They are working tirelessly to protect us all by ensuring that the vital services our nation depends upon can keep moving. Uppermost in all of our minds are the incredibly hardworking NHS emergency response vehicles, and the food and pharmaceutical fleets in the supply and delivery chain. 

'We would like to take this opportunity to thank all of those dedicated individuals in the Emergency Services and Transport sectors, and all of the other unsung heroes out there who are demonstrating their resilience and commitment to keeping Britain moving.

'The mobility of our customers is paramount and we will do all we can to ensure they are best placed to prioritise their own customers. We will continue to accelerate the delivery of parts, and work with our industry partners to expand our already successful Mobilovan roadside assistance fleet to maintain our service level commitments.

'Rest assured, the Mercedes-Benz Vans team will not waver in their determination to keep our colleagues and customers at the centre of everything we do – particularly now when they need us most.'

For customers who may struggle to pay instalments on their finance packages, meanwhile, the brand says:

'Mercedes-Benz Finance know this is a difficult time for many of our customers. Some will be in financial difficulty and will understandably want to discuss what this may mean for their vehicle finance agreement. We ask that customers in this position email us at mbfscv@daimler.com and put 'Coronavirus' in the subject line.'

Mitsubishi

Mitsubishi tells us that its dealers are doing all they can to adapt to the situation, with many offering to collect and return vehicles due for service or repair.

It was the first firm to confirm that if things go into lockdown and personal movements were restricted then as long as warranty and / or service work is booked in and Mitsubishi customer service has been informed, the delay caused by COVID-19 won't invalidate warranties. Just make sure you let them know.

PSA Group: Citroen, Peugeot and Vauxhall

Groupe PSA closed all its van factories, including the Vauxhall plant in Luton, on 19 March 2020.

The retail network remains open for service, maintenance, repair and MOT, 'using all the necessary precautions and government advice'.

Renault Pro+

We've received the following statement from Renault:

'Our dealers are still open for business and working in accordance with recent government communications and guidelines regarding COVID-19 to ensure the health and wellbeing of their staff and customers alike.

'The current situation obviously has an impact on all business areas, including product development and manufacturing. It is too early to have any visibility on a return to normality.

'However, the company anticipates that commercial activity will be resumed quickly after the crisis. Once the crisis is over, appropriate measures will be implemented enabling us to meet the significant commercial demand thereafter.'

As you can probably work out from this, Renault's van factories are shut, which also means some Nissan and Vauxhall model production is halted for the time being.

SsangYong

We've received the following statement from SsangYong:

'As with the majority of companies, our priority at this time is the health and safety of our employees, our dealers and our customers.

'We are using three main sources of information for our decision making – the Centre for Disease Control (CDC), World Health Organization (WHO), and UK government recommendations.

'We are holding regular meetings to review the latest information and directions issued by these organisations and to direct and coordinate the company’s response. We will continue to adjust our actions and recommendations accordingly. SYMUK will continue to follow the guidance of the CDC, WHO and the UK government.

'In the meantime it is imperative to all our businesses that we continue to service our customers and inform them of the actions we are taking within our business to help avoid the spread of COVID-19 while letting them know we remain open for business.

'We plan to continue to deliver, market, sell and support both vehicles and parts as normal, with minimal, interruption to service, until required to do otherwise.'

Toyota Professional

Here's the latest statement from Toyota (as of 24 March 2020):

'Given the rapidly developing situation with the Covid-19 virus, Toyota GB would like to update customers on the situation with our dealer network, and with regard to servicing or repair work they may need on their vehicles.

'Our priority remains ensuring the well-being of customers, staff and partners during these challenging times.

'Whilst we will continue to do all we can to meet the mobility needs of key emergency workers, the rapid escalation of the virus in Europe, and the effects of the increased countermeasures now in place to stop the spread, as announced by the Prime Minister, will inevitably have an effect on our operations.

'From Tuesday 24 March, all Toyota and Lexus new and used car sales facilities will be closed but remain contactable to discuss your motoring needs.

'The Toyota and Lexus network will do their utmost to ensure that emergency workers and NHS staff are kept mobile if their vehicle is off the road.

'Customers should contact their local dealer for advice by phone or email, or our UK customer service team by email or webchat in the first instance.

'Members of Toyota or Lexus Roadside Assistance can call for all breakdown and roadside assistance in the usual way. Contact details for your nearest dealer can be found at toyota.co.uk or lexus.co.uk.

'Customers concerned about servicing which is due, please don’t worry. Toyota GB would like to reassure you that for the foreseeable future we intend to take a flexible and sympathetic approach to any service schedule or warranty issues.

'In the same spirit, if your Toyota or Lexus Roadside Assistance (TRA/LRA) has expired and not been renewed since 1 February 2020, we will provide complimentary cover until 31 May 2020. If your TRA or LRA policy is currently active we will provide a complimentary three month extension to it.

'We will continue to monitor this evolving situation, especially with regard to government guidance, and will do our best to keep you informed as quickly as possible of any changes to the situation.'

Beyond this, we know that parts continue in production, not least for the Hilux pickup (which is not built in France), as Toyota is keen to help make sure its customers can keep moving - especially among the emergency services.

Toyota's van range is built by PSA, so is also impacted by the French factory shut-downs.

Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles

VWCV has made the following statement about its UK dealer network:

'We are acutely aware of our role in supporting the basic transport and essential mobility infrastructure of the United Kingdom, and we will be working with our networks, the SMMT, NFDA and HM Government to co-ordinate an appropriate minimum physical infrastructure.

'With the rapidly developing COVID-19 situation we are following government advice, and working with our Van Centres to take the appropriate actions to maintain the safety of customers and staff.

'Enquiries in many locations continue to be welcomed via telephone and digital contact. For everyone’s safety and convenience, if customers need urgent vehicle maintenance, we are urging them to check their dealer’s service availability by telephone or by visiting their website.'

VW is also temporarily closing down all of its commercial vehicle factories as of the end of Thursday 19 March 2020, saying: 'The reasons for stopping production are the uncertain sales environment for light commercial vehicles, the suppliers’ volatile supply chains and to protect the health of all employees.'

Also read:

>> Coronavirus COVID-19 advice for van and pickup drivers

Our dealers are still open for business and working in accordance with recent government communications and guidelines regarding COVID-19 to ensure the health and wellbeing of their staff and customers alike.

 

 

The current situation obviously has an impact on all business areas, including product development and manufacturing. It is too early to have any visibility on a return to normality.

 

However, the company anticipates that commercial activity will be resumed quickly after the crisis. Once the crisis is over, appropriate measures will be implemented enabling us to meet the significant commercial demand thereafter.

>> What to do if you need a payment holiday on your van or pickup finance or lease

>> Do I still need to get an MOT for my van during the COVID-19 pandemic?

>> Van and pickup warranty advice during the coronavirus pandemic