The first SIMI in-person event in over two years took place recently at the Clayton Hotel in Dublin, which also marked the start of the Society’s centenary celebrations. SIMI president Gillian Fanning, the first female president in the Society’s 100 year history, addressed the audience acknowledging the sense of occasion.
Ms. Fanning remarked on the “unprecedented times” that the Industry is facing, a global pandemic, a climate crisis, Brexit, rising inflation, global supply issues and the recent outbreak of war. The crystallisation of all these factors has made business extremely difficult over the past few years and “this is unlikely to change in the near future”. She acknowledged the efforts of the industry at the height of the pandemic in adapting their businesses and helping to keep the country moving.
Ms. Fanning emphasised that the climate crisis is the most urgent immediate challenge facing the world and the need for action is now. She said: “The motor industry globally is investing billions in the development of new technologies to meet climate change objectives and targets, while at a national level, SIMI distributor and retail members are already supplying the vehicles to help customers make better environmental decisions.”
The Society recently launched its independent ‘Climate Change’ report, outlining an approach to decarbonisation, the policies required and how the Government can work alongside the industry to create real change and achieve a cleaner national fleet.
The key to action is a behavioural change needed by motorists, politicians and industry leaders. Ms. Fanning called on the Government to “deliver the right taxation and incentive framework to optimise emission reductions and to provide consumer confidence, which will eliminate barriers to change, while also providing the industry with certainty to plan”.
Referencing a recent nationwide survey by ‘Behaviour & Attitudes of over 1,000 Motorists’, carried out for SIMI, the findings demonstrated the lack of perceived clarity around Government grants and subsidies for consumers, with three quarters of those surveyed saying they do not understand the existing information that is publicly available, along with other concerns around affordability and charging infrastructure.
Ms. Fanning stressed the importance of diversity within the sector, particularly in relation to the male/female employee ratio. While women make up a huge proportion of our customer base, they are significantly under-represented in the industry. She encouraged members to “promote diversity and to highlight the career opportunities available, particularly with the rapid transition to electric vehicles”. She also remarked on the need for training and up-skilling technicians, along with the critical and active promotion of motor industry apprenticeships.
In closing, Ms. Fanning remarked, 2022 is a very special year for The Society of the Irish Motor Industry as it’s the centenary year of SIMI and that there would be no Society without its members, thanking them for their support.
Meanwhile, the SIMI Irish Motor Industry Awards in partnership with sponsor Bank of Ireland, were also presented on the night. Oliver Callan, master of ceremonies announced the accolades in front of over 500 senior motor industry figures.
Brian Cooke, SIMI director general and Derek McDermott, managing director of Bank of Ireland Finance presented seven award categories in total. SIMI said the award winners, adjudicated by an independent panel, operate across all sectors of the Irish motor industry. It added that the companies selected demonstrated an award-winning level of excellence and best practice over the last 12 months.
Category Award Winners were:
Bodyshop of the Year: Accident Repair Centre (ARC) Dublin 24
Vehicle Recovery Operator of the Year: Derek Beahan Recovery, Dublin
Independent Sales Operation of the year: Auto Assure Ltd, Dundalk Co. Louth
Independent Aftersales Operation of the year: Donnellan Auto Services, Co. Galway
Commercial Vehicle Operation of the Year: Wicklow VTN, Wicklow
Franchised Aftersales Operation of the Year: Cavanaghs of Charleville Cork
Franchise Sales Operation of the Year: Kearys Motor Group Cork