Pennsylvania dealer Scott Brewer has lost vehicle sales to Ohio, Virginia and West Virginia — nearby states where sales are continuing during the coronavirus outbreak.
Brewer, president of Brewer Airport Toyota in Moon Township, near Pittsburgh, isn't allowed to sell any vehicles — even online — under Gov. Tom Wolf's public safety orders.
Brewer's store is a half-hour drive from the Ohio state line and 40 minutes from West Virginia. And dealerships in those states are advertising to Pennsylvanians, Brewer said.
"Forcing somebody to either drive out of state or have a car delivered to them — how that's safer for another state to do it than a Pennsylvania dealership is beyond me," Brewer said.
Dealers across the country, already feeling the huge falloff in vehicle sales in the coronavirus outbreak, say they are disheartened to have their customers drive into neighboring states to buy or lease a vehicle. And many like Brewer are frustrated.
Dealers, associations and legislative allies in states such as Pennsylvania, Washington and Michigan have been lobbying governors to allow vehicle sales by appointment or online during the pandemic.
In Michigan, it's worked. Others are still trying.
"Right across the border, 10 minutes across the border … we've got dealers in Oregon that are selling vehicles," said Monte Phillips, a partner and general manager in Vancouver Auto Group, which owns Ford and Hyundai-Genesis stores in Vancouver, Wash.
Phillips said while he had to lay off his sales staff, his business development center has been humming with Internet leads. While his group reserved some vehicles for people to buy once the stay-at-home order — now set to last through May 4 — is lifted, Phillips acknowledges some are "more interested in the here and now and therefore head south across the bridge to purchase their vehicles from competing dealers."