Like many industries, the pandemic has changed the way in which the automotive sector will operate forever.

As the e-commerce industry becomes a prominent platform for converting sales, the car buying showroom experience has been compressed into a 10-minute online purchase. Consumers now buy cars online as they do almost everything else and for those dealerships who had been slow to integrate online options for customers; it has led to many closing their doors.

We were fortunate to have already integrated digital options for customers but despite introducing these online sales initiatives years ago, Covid-19 has accelerated this pressure and has forced our hand to gear up for a large increase in operating nationwide delivery.

It is this pressure which has had a devastating impact on the Welsh automotive industry, largely due to the fact that car buying for the most part here is still done “old school” in-person, from viewing to test-driving to financing.

Trust and reputation is everything in the automotive industry - both online and offline - but in today’s world a bad online review can cost you a sale.

Consumers no longer mind where the car is located and this has opened new opportunities for Welsh businesses to expand their offerings nationwide – the attitude of ‘the car is in Wales, I’m in Scotland – it’s too far’ has gone. But as a result the personal experience has diminished too.

Historically, the motor trade was generally a vibrant, sociable career to embark on and the lack of physical interaction without doubt has had a knock on effect to all those employed in the industry.

We know the Welsh automotive industry is a vital part of both the Welsh and the UK’s economy, employing nearly 19,000 people in Wales.

MAKE UK (formerly the Engineering Employers Federation) identified the sector as having the third highest contribution to UK Automotive GVA when compared to the English regions and other devolved nations.

These are increasingly challenging times for a sector that is dependent on the free movement of goods, services and people. I fear the recovery of the industry will depend on how consumer behaviour changes post-lockdown, like so many sectors we will rely heavily on the support from people to opt for independents over larger retailers.

As Wales prepares for a roadmap announcement, I hope for all parts of the Welsh economy we are provided with distinct phases to ensure we will be in a position to recover quicker than we anticipate.

While I cannot see motor trade going back to what it was, this shift to operating online certainly brings a chance to be more profitable - but at what cost does this come?