The Australian Motorist and COVID-19: Know What Goes Around You

Manufacturers News

Apr 07th, 2020

The Australian Motorist and COVID-19: Know What Goes Around You

The novel coronavirus has no doubt disrupted all aspects of our lives. The movement of people has been restricted in varying degrees depending on where you live. Generally, though, vehicles are still on the roads, albeit limited to essential activities and purposes. Thus, as motorists, you must know what's going on around you. Here are some updates to see you through this unusual time.

Transport Regulations

The Department of Transport Victoria announced the suspension of face-to-face transactions. To continue serving their constituents while ensuring the safety of clients and employees, they have established an online and multi-channel presence.

The agency has directed the following licensing and registration transactions online:

  1. Vehicle Registration and other matters relating to your vehicle – includes renewal of registration, checking of vehicle status, updating of address, short-term registration, and similar transactions
  2. Driver Licensing and other matters relating to you as a driver – includes renewal, replacement, and updating of licences and permits 
  3. Other assistance that can be extended online – includes requests for information, forms, books and publications

As of the 25th of March 2020, all computer-based licence tests, light vehicle drive tests, and all drive test assessments related to medical review are suspended until further notice. On the other hand, tests for heavy vehicles and motorcycles will remain unchanged. Meanwhile, all holders of overseas or interstate licences may continue driving in their existing licences since the DoT has extended the period for converting to a Victorian licence. 

You may still visit the nearest Customer Service Centre for essential services and exceptional cases that cannot be addressed online or over the phone. 

For New South Wales, licence renewal can be done online, but there are some amendments to the procedures due to safety precautions that the state needed to put in place.

Those who need an interpreter for the Driver Knowledge Test (DKT) may opt to postpone or cancel taking the test. 

Those who wish to renew online may do so, although renewal in person may still be done through the service centres with strict observance of social distancing and lockdown measures. Please refer to the given link for the eligibility requirements before deciding to take the online or in-person procedure.   

The eyesight test for low-risk drivers will be deferred for up to 6 months, while high-risk drivers will have to take theirs before their licences can be renewed. You may call 6604 9301 or email Medicalunit@rms.nsw.gov.au for questions regarding the eyesight test.

Medical assessment for low-risk senior drivers (75 years old and above) is likewise deferred, but those considered high-risk need to go through the usual test. You may contact the same phone and email given above. Similar leniency is applied for drivers over 75 years old in Victoria and 70 years old in South Australia. 

The Motor Vehicle Registry of Northern Territory has an online platform and a REGO app. Both modes of access cater to various transactions, including registry status, vehicle renewal, short-term registration renewal, and NT driver’s licence renewal. 

For the Australian Capital Territory, they already have an online renewal procedure in place. We will update this section as soon as the other states and territories make changes in their policies too.

Manufacturer Initiatives

Hyundai

Under Hyundai’s CARE warranty program, the South Korean carmaker has extended the warranty period for more than 27,000 vehicles in Australia (1.2 million worldwide) with original warranties expiring between the 1st of March and the 30th of May 2020.

It has also extended up to 6 months of payment relief under its Hyundai Assurance Job Loss Protection program. Customers who bought or leased a Hyundai through Hyundai Capital regardless of their employment history may avail of this relief.

The company also offers a 90-day payment deferment for customers who want to buy a new car, although this is limited to selected models only. This responsiveness toward their customers is also replicated by Hyundai to their dealers by adjusting performance objectives and other aids to dealerships as they face a reduction in showroom traffic and sales.

Ford and General Motors

Ford and GM are in a new race - not in any supercars competition but in a race against time in an effort to build ventilators for thousands of COVID-19 patients. This undertaking goes in the annals of automotive history as a groundbreaking step in rethinking and repurposing resources to respond to a catastrophe of global proportions. 

These automakers once again showed their leadership and responsiveness in times reminiscent of WWII, overhauling production lines and redeploying workers. Ford is also in collaboration with GE and 3M in manufacturing protective shields, bedside respirators, and other medical equipment.

Toyota

Toyota meanwhile has donated ¥10 million to assist China in procuring medical supplies to help combat COVID-19. Also, in its efforts to support social distancing measures, ordering and buying Toyota vehicles are now available via their website.

Jaguar Land Rover

Responding to the plea from health workers for additional protective equipment, Jaguar Land Rover collaborated with Pro2Pro to produce 1,300 face shields per week. They are aiming to increase their production to 5,000 units a week in the coming days.  

Volkswagen Group, Audi, Skoda Lamborghini and SEAT

Also joining the COVID-19 fight, the German automaker extended help by sending €40-million worth of medical equipment and protective supplies for health workers and frontliners in various facilities in Germany. This effort is joined in by Skoda, SEAT and Lamborghini in producing much-need face shields, ventilators and respirators.

Audi handed out €5 million to help various health institutions, while Skoda has contributed over 200 vehicles.  

Other Automakers

Nissan, GM, Toyota, and other manufacturers are now crafting programs for car buyers to soften the impact of the crisis and to spur sales, so we expect to see more payment relief measures in the coming weeks.

Local Automotive Manufacturers

Responding to the government's call for local manufacturing expertise to help fight the current health crisis, four local automotive equipment manufacturers signed up. One of these brands is the Queensland-based PWR that specialises in manufacturing radiators for F1 teams. OEM part supplier Bosch Australia signified its willingness to help, while Marand Precision Engineering and SMR Automotive also registered their commitment of support. 

This pandemic has, without a doubt, affected the industry massively. Governments and industry players are assessing the situations on a daily basis. Each one's ability to respond and agility to adapt to these changes spells the difference between barely surviving and rising above the situation.

We will be continually updating this article as things unfold. Keep yourself updated by following our website for auto industry development and car parts and manufacturer news. 

- JMSL