Escaping Cindy's kindy - Arnold Difflock

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Words: Arnold Difflock
29 Jun 2020

The last couple of months have been stressful for most, and for those in the motor industry trying to keep the wolf from the door, it’s been no exception. Now it looks like we’re being released into a world of semi-normality, although enjoying a pint with your mates at the pub might take a bit longer.

Being held prisoner in Cindy’s Kindy has not been very funny, and now that we’re in Level two it will hopefully mean that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. But let’s hope it’s not another train coming the other way.

There will be plenty of arguments about whether the Government has responded appropriately and we won’t know the true answer for many months, perhaps years. But that doesn’t make it any easier for those with their life savings at risk in a car business, not to mention their loyal employees.

New car sales in April 2020 were only 10 per cent of the same month in 2019, much worse than in Australia, which managed to hang onto half of last April’s level.

The New Zealand motor industry environment has changed forever, and those who can adapt to the conditions of the future will survive and prosper, but those who were on the margins before the world was turned upside down will sadly not.

International travel is going to be off the agenda for the foreseeable future, even for the well off, and domestic air travel is going to be hard to justify.

As a consumer, what better to do with your spare cash but invest in a new car and spend the next few years exploring the parts of New Zealand that you’ve never visited before? After all, the accommodation is going to be a bargain and you wouldn’t credit how good these places have become while you’ve been wasting your money in Europe for the past ten years.

The highways are no longer infested with ‘road maggots’, otherwise known as those white rental campervans which are now sitting in their hundreds near Auckland and Queenstown airports. Very soon these will be available at fire sale prices to anyone with a desire to enjoy, at leisure, the delights of our wonderful country.

Hopefully the prices that these fully equipped vehicles will be going for will put an end to freedom camping and the unsavoury habits that the low-budget backpackers from Europe indulge in. Given that international air travel is now super-expensive, we need to focus on well heeled international tourists who can actually spend money in our country instead of living on bread and noodles.

Back to the car business. We have a mix of dealers in this country, and most are professionals but there are a few who sail close to the wind when it comes to defining the term ‘ethical’. These are the guys who feature heavily in the files of the Disputes Tribunal for a variety of reasons. You know who you are, and it would be a good thing if you are no longer with us once we emerge from this period of disruption.

The surviving dealers are going to face a huge challenge when the thousands of redundant rental cars are shovelled onto the market, depressing the value of every late model used car out there.

Kiwis will get through this. We might not be flying about the place as much as we used to but there’s no reason why we can’t be driving even more, so the survivors of the motor industry have everything to be positive about.

Citroen May 20

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