Global car production has been heavily impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic

How The Coronavirus Is Affecting The Motor Industry

Global car production has been heavily impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic
Global car production has been heavily impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic

The Coronavirus pandemic is changing how we live and how we work. The motor industry is not immune to the local, national and global effects of the worldwide COVID-19 public health crisis. We've put together this article to show you the many facets of the motor industry that have been affected in Ireland and Europe. This is a story of disruption to car production and new car launches, but also innovation and cooperation, as the industry responds to one of the biggest challenges its ever faced.

1. Car Manufacturers

Both car production and sales of new cars have come to a halt in most of Europe and other regions. Global car production has been severely impacted with factory shutdowns. According to the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA), the average shutdown duration is 16 working days at the moment with the jobs of at least 1,110,107 Europeans working in automobile manufacturing affected. EU-wide production losses due to factory shutdowns amount to at least 1,231,038 motor vehicles so far. However, it is heartening to note that in Wuhan, China, once the epicentre of the Coronavirus outbreak, production is now resuming. Ferrari is planning to resume production at its Maranello plant in Italy on 14th April.

In a twist, some of the car manufacturers are switching their efforts to produce more ventilators, key equipment in the fight to save more lives from the COVID-19 pandemic. Ford, PSA Groupe, SEAT and Lamborghini are all switching some available resources to the development and production of this vital healthcare equipment. SEAT has transformed the Leon production line at the Martorell plant in Barcelona to make automated ventilators with adapted windscreen wiper motors for the Spanish healthcare system.

SEAT along with some other car manufacturers have switched some resources to the production of ventilators in the fight against COVID-19
SEAT along with some other car maufacturers have switched some resources to the production of ventilators

2. Dealers

From midnight on Friday 27th March, the Government has asked all non-essential businesses to close. Across Ireland, showrooms are closed though many Irish dealerships are still available to answer sales enquiries by email or by phone. Businesses involved in the service and repair of vehicles can still operate, but only for emergencies.

3. Motor Shows

The Geneva Motor Show, which takes place in March every year, was cancelled at the beginning of the month. Many of the new car reveals that are a feature of the annual show took place online instead. The organisers of the biennial Paris Motor Show have just announced that it won't go ahead 'in its current format' in October. The Detroit Motor Show was scheduled to take place in June and has now been cancelled. The site is being converted into a temporary field hospital to help deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.

4. Media

All local and European press drive events have been cancelled or postponed for the forseeable future. In Ireland, press car rotations have now been suspended. While the supply of motoring news and new car content has dwindled, at Changing Lanes we are determined to keep this show on the road! We will use our creativity and ingenuity to keep you informed and entertained as best we can over the coming weeks and months.

Many events and motor shows around the world have been cancelled or postponed
Many events and motor shows around the world have been cancelled or postponed

Caroline Kidd

Budget 2017 Motoring

Budget 2020 And The Motor Industry In Ireland

Budget 2017 Motoring
Budget 2020 is here: what's in it for the Irish motorist?

Thanks to SIMI for sharing the following information on Budget 2020.

Budget 2020 contains a number of measures specific to motoring:

  • No changes to CO2 element of VRT in 2020. VRT will continue to be based on NEDC for 2020.
  • Replacement of 1 per cent diesel surcharge with a nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions based charge. This surcharge will apply to all passenger cars registered for the first time in the State from 1 January 2020.
  • Extension of the Benefit-In-Kind zero rate on electric vehicles to 2022.
  • Extension of the VRT reliefs for conventional and plug in hybrids to 2020, subject to CO2 thresholds.
  • Provide additional relief through the Diesel Rebate Scheme to hauliers to compensate that sector for the increased cost of fuel.
  • Increase of the carbon levy on motor fuels of €6, adding €2 for a tank full of either petrol or diesel. This will increase the cost of doing business in Ireland.
  • Introduce an environmental rationale for Benefit In Kind for commercial vehicles from 2023.
  • Reduce qualifying CO2 thresholds for reliefs in respect of Capital Allowances and VAT reclaim on commercial vehicles.

Commenting on Budget 2020, SIMI Director General Brian Cooke, said,
“In the context of both an already depressed new car market and the likely impact of Brexit, there is a real fear that car sales will further deteriorate that will only slow down the renewal of Ireland’s car fleet, which is vital in our attempt to drive down emissions. In this regard, SIMI is relieved that the Minister has not increased VRT for new cars in Budget 2020.

The replacement of the 1% diesel surcharge introduced last year on new cars with a nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions-based charge to all passenger cars registering for the first time in the State from 1 January 2020 is a welcome announcement. The NOx charge will impact on older higher emitting cars which, unlike last year’s diesel surcharge, will penalise older cars with higher levels of pollutants. The Minister has recognised that newer vehicle technology is cleaner and better for the fleet.

In addition, the extension of the BIK relief for Electric Vehicles out to 2022 will incentivise the choice of electric cars for companies for the duration of the normal 3 year replacement cycle. This Budget does allow the Industry some breathing space in what is likely to be a challenging 2020. It is now important that the Industry and Government use this time to work closely together to in relation to VRT into the future and the drive towards zero-emissions.”

Motor Industry To Recruit 150 Apprentices

The Society of the Irish Motor Industry (SIMI) announced at the Intreo Careers Fair, Dublin Castle, that the Irish Motor Industry is looking to recruit 150 Apprentices throughout Ireland. Apprenticeships include Motor Mechanics, Heavy Vehicle Mechanics, Vehicle Body Repairs, Agricultural Mechanics and Construction Plant Fitting.

In order to undertake an apprenticeship a candidate must find a suitable employer to take them on for the duration of their four-year apprenticeship. They then register with SOLAS, who oversee the Training programme and award of the National Craft Certificate Standard.

SIMI’s member companies have committed to recruiting 150 apprentices. Details of the companies and apprentice positions, are available on the SIMI’s website  

The Motor Industry employs over 42,000* people throughout Ireland in a variety of positions. While there is currently a shortage of apprentices within our Industry, this has also been seen in other trade sectors. Events such as National Jobs week are helping to highlight the opportunities and careers options that are currently available.        

Regina Doherty, TD Minister for Employment Affairs & Social Protection, said “I am delighted that SIMI and the Irish Motor industry is taking part in Jobs Week and it’s great to see so many opportunities available within the sector. These apprenticeships are a great example of the scope and scale of opportunity available within our growing economy and reflect the variety of careers we have been highlighting all week.”

Brian Cooke ,SIMI Director General Designate said “This is a wonderful opportunity for those who wish to pursue a technical career while experiencing both a college and a working environment. With the transition underway to cutting edge automotive technologies, such as electric cars, hybrid vehicles, and autonomous vehicles, gather pace there has never been a more exciting time to be a part of the Industry.” 


Francesca McDonagh, CEO of Bank of Ireland, Geraldine Herbert, Motoring Journalist and Editor, Gerry Hussey, Performance Psychology Consultant & Motivational speaker and Anne Cassin, Master of Ceremonies.

5th Annual Women@SIMI Held In Dublin

Francesca McDonagh, CEO of Bank of Ireland, Geraldine Herbert, Motoring Journalist and Editor, Gerry Hussey, Performance Psychology Consultant & Motivational speaker and Anne Cassin, Master of Ceremonies.
Francesca McDonagh, CEO of Bank of Ireland, Geraldine Herbert, Motoring Journalist and Editor, Gerry Hussey, Performance Psychology Consultant & Motivational speaker and Anne Cassin, Master of Ceremonies.

The Society of the Irish Motor Industry (SIMI) hosted its 5thannual Women@SIMI event recently in the Shelbourne Hotel, Dublin.

The Women@SIMI event is an opportunity for women working in the Irish motor industry to connect and network with other women working in the industry.

This year's event was the largest to date with over 160 women attending, representing a variety of different sectors within the motor industry in Ireland.

Each year a number of speakers are invited to attend. This year's Women@SIMI speakers were Francesca McDonagh, CEO of Bank of Ireland, Geraldine Herbert, motoring journalist and editor, and Gerry Hussey, psychologist and motivational speaker. Topics such as female representation in male-dominated careers, women, advertising and the global motoring industry, and personal well-being were discussed at this year's event.

Anne Cassin was the Master of Ceremonies for this year's Women@SIMI and the event was again sponsored by Bank of Ireland.

In his first official engagement as SIMI President, Gerard O'Farrell opened the event and acknowledged the importance of recruiting top talent and encouraging both female and male executives to become more actively involved in helping to change the perception of careers within the Industry. Despite the challenges facing the Motor Industry in terms of Brexit and WLTP, Mr O’Farrell also highlighted the advances in technology, innovation in autonomous driving, enhanced connectivity, and the increasing complexity of cars. He believes there are emerging opportunities for Ireland to position itself as a centre of excellence for software engineering within the automotive Industry and to become a world leader in this field.

Showing their support for Project EDWARD: European Day Without A Road Death
Women@SIMI attendees showing their support for Project EDWARD: European Day Without A Road Death

Francesca McDonagh spoke about her first year in her role as CEO of Bank of Ireland CEO, uncertainty around Brexit for those in business and the topic of gender balance. Francesca spoke about the need for more senior female leaders in all sectors and industries, and discussed the Bank of Ireland gender target announced earlier this year. Under this target, Bank of Ireland, made a commitment for all appointments to senior management and leadership to follow a 50:50 gender ratio by 2021.

Geraldine Herbert spoke about women and the global motor industry from her perspective as a Motoring Journalist and Editor. Geraldine founded in 2012 due to a lack of engagement with women from the automotive world editorially and on the marketing side. Geraldine explained that “advertising needs to reflect women, images need to show women, but the industry needs to employ more women. Role models and females must be visible in the industry.”

She went on to discuss the talent crisis across the automotive industry, stating that electric cars, vehicle connectivity, self-driving cars, shifting consumer preferences, and increasing regulatory pressures are creating a complex environment, but that there are compelling reasons for women to be a part of that. She believes that women represent a critical yet underrepresented resource capable of helping automotive companies to take a competitive advantage.

"Women have great intuition and can handle big changes extremely well. Right now big changes are what the car industry is facing. What is so important is for young women to see female role models working within the Industry. We need to communicate that the automotive world is not just for men, creating flexible work practices and highlighting women role models would be beneficial but really what is needed is a culture change, a new way of thinking outside of traditional gender roles. That way a greater number of women can be recruited into all aspects of the Industry and this in turn will filter through to the advertising, images and marketing efforts.”

Gerry Hussey, Performance Psychology Consultant and Motivational Speaker, spoke about the importance of becoming more present in our daily life, and not being afraid to ask about the why in what we do. He emphasised the importance of our emotional wellness and being more attentive to what matters, while also looking after our mental and physical health.

2017 Women@SIMI Conference

4th Annual Women@SIMI Takes Place In Dublin

The Society of the Irish Motor Industry (SIMI) has hosted its 4th annual Women@SIMI event in Dublin. This event is a special gathering of women working in the motor industry in Ireland.

Over 140 professional women from around Ireland attended the 2017 Women@SIMI event, representing different sectors within the motor industry in Ireland.

Women@SIMI is about recognising the dynamic role played by women within the motor industry. The theme of this year's event was the importance of entrepreneurship and seizing opportunities in business and career.

This year's speakers included Michelle Spillane, Director of Global Marketing, RTÉ, Anna May McHugh, Managing Director National Ploughing Association (NPA) and Paula Fitzsimons, Managing Director of Fitzsimons Consulting.

Speaking at the event, Gavin Hydes, President of SIMI, said, “In my view, a critical objective for the industry is to communicate the exciting and dynamic career opportunities that are available in so many diverse sectors SIMI represents. It is important that we are able to attract the very top talent our businesses require going forward. It is a cutting-edge, fast-paced and ever-changing industry that has lots to offer those seeking a rewarding career”.

Karen Kennedy, Marketing Manager of Bank of Ireland Finance, Sponsor of Women@SIMI, said, “Since its inauguration, we are delighted to support Women@SIMI. It is important to recognise both the female role models and mentors within the motor industry and we are proud to play a part in this event”.

2017 Women@SIMI Conference
Pictured left to right: Gillian Fanning Serfac Limited, Teresa Noone SIMI, Mary Kennedy MC, Anna May McHugh, Managing Director National Ploughing Association, Michelle Spillane, Director of Global Marketing, RTÉ Paula Fitzsimons, Managing Director of Fitzsimons Consulting, Karen Kennedy Bank of Ireland Finance. Picture: Aidan Oliver