PSA boss: Pandemic has paused car-sharing development

Car sharing is the key area put on pause by the pandemic, according to the PSA Group’s UK boss, Alison Jones, given the health risk factors involved with more than one person sharing a car.

She said: “We were trialling car sharing in cities. In a few months, depending what happens with the pandemic, it may come back. At the moment, it’s paused; how do you sanitise a vehicle in car sharing? We will find a way, I’m sure, and we’ll see the demand and address what customers want.”

Talking on the Financial Times’ Digital Future of the Car webinar, Jones added that the pandemic had accelerated other areas of PSA’s business – which includes Citroën, DS, Opel, Peugeot and Vauxhall brands – such as online car sales.

Jones said: “Peugeot has been online since 2017. We sped up a lot of those developments [across the brands] as we went into lockdown, such as offering a virtual walk-around of a car.

“It’s convenient and safe, but we also know there are customers who want to touch their vehicle before they buy, and that’s where retailers come into their own and really mix that digital and physical presence.”

Jones added that while the market is coming back, it’s not yet clear if that’s for the short term only: “We’ll truly know in Q4, when the furlough scheme ends. That will give us a true indication. And, of course, next year we go into Brexit and what that brings.”

Asked whether she supports a car scrappage scheme, Jones responded that the government needs to support the “total economy”.

She said: “We’re coming up with a range of ways to support our customers, and we’re talking to government about a range of measures, as every industry is. We need government to help the total economy.”