Women in the Irish motor business

Posted on: 8th May, 2018

Category: Highlights

Contributor: West Cork People

Are Electric Cars (EV’s) the way forward? We got the views of three women who work in the Irish motor business…

Louise Murphy (pictured above)
Marketing Director, Citroen Ireland

How did you get into the motor business?

My journey to motoring was through Rugby. I was working for the European Rugby Cup tournament organisers for the Heineken Cup. As part of my role there I worked on the commercial delivery of sponsorship agreements and I had a strong interest in how brands leveraged sponsorships to build their brand presence. So when a role appeared to work on the sponsorship side of the business through Toyota’s sponsorship of the Munster Rugby team as part of the marketing team, I was delighted to take the opportunity. I made the move from Rugby to Motoring in 2007, so I am in the motor business for over 10 years now.

Who taught you how to drive?

My main driving instructor was my father, and from the start there was a strong emphasis on safe driving. On my first lesson when I say behind the wheel he said “you are now in control of a machine that can kill,’ a clear message that always stuck with me.

What was your first car?

This was a Suziki Baleno, that was purchased from an advert in the Carlow Nationalist, and taking delivery at the church car park in Tullow.

Favourite car of all time?

The Citroen DS launched in 1955. Thanks to Denis Ryan our longest serving Citroen dealership in Cork, I drove my now sister-in-law to the church in a beautiful Citroen DS.

Why do you think there are so many women involved in the motor trade in Ireland?

I do not think that are nearly as many as there should be! Traditionally it has been a very male-dominated industry but this has improved a lot in the last decade. The onus is on the industry to work to attract the best men and women. It is a very exciting industry to be part of and one that has a future full of challenges. There are so many varied careers from mechanics, to sales and from marketing to finance; so it is full of opportunities.

Are Electric Cars (EV) the way forward?

It is not the only way forward and the sales rate will depend on so many factors. We see in countries like Norway where the majority of sales are now electric vehicles, but that is due to high tax subsidies making these the cheaper option for customers. Technology still has a long way to go as depreciation of second hand electric cars is now a problem; and without an adequate infrastructure in Ireland recharging can be a cumbersome. In the short to medium term petrol and diesel engines will continue to represent the majority of sales in Ireland.


Jeanne McGann
Head of Marketing, Nissan Ireland

How did you get into the motor business?

By accident! I started working with Nissan straight out of college on a six-month work experience contract – 20 years later I’m still here. It’s a great business to be involved in, exciting, interesting and always changing, which makes it a very hard business to get out of once you’ve experienced it.

Who taught you how to drive?

Learning how to drive was a high priority of mine from quite a young age. It was always something I wanted to do. I remember even from a very young age playing ‘driving games’ in the driveway in my Mum or Dad’s car with my sisters and friends and I would always be the one ‘driving’. My Dad taught me how to drive. From the age of 16 onwards I pestered him constantly to take me out on practice sessions.  These began with us driving up and down the road in our estate and then progressed to me driving to mass on a Sunday with him. I think this was mainly Dad’s way of getting me to go to mass on a Sunday – suffice to say – it worked! I passed my driving test first time round when I was 18 and then there was no stopping me !

What was your first car?

My first car was a grey Nissan Micra K10 model, it was a high spec Micra, with a sunroof and a radio with a tape deck in it! I didn’t realise how great a car it was until it was stolen and I had to replace it with a much lower spec car that didn’t have all of those luxuries in it!  I genuinely loved my grey Micra, it was so easy and enjoyable to drive.

Favourite car of all time?

My favourite car of all time has to be the Nissan GTR. I drove one of these for a couple of weeks a number of years ago and they are seriously impressive cars, not only to drive, but also to be seen to be driving! The GTR is a serious performance car, no matter where you go it always turns heads and is just so exciting to drive.  Obviously on a day-to-day basis you would have to respect the rules of the road and therefore wouldn’t really get a chance to really ‘drive’ a Nissan GTR and put it through its paces. But a couple of years ago I was lucky enough to get a chance to drive one around the track in Mondello and all I can say is “WOW”! The speed that the car could achieve and the excitement of that speed – whilst still feeling totally solid and safe on the track was seriously impressive!

Why do you think there are so many women involved in the motor trade in Ireland?

Why not?! I actually don’t think that there are enough women involved in the motor business, it still is quite a heavily male-dominated business. However, that is changing and I’m delighted that more and more women are entering into the business across all areas, from technicians to salespeople to Dealer Principals. In my view, there really is no reason why female representation in the motor trade should be any different to any other industry or sector.

Are Electric Cars (EV) the way forward?

Yes, in my view EV’s are absolutely the way forward for a whole raft of reasons, but mainly because of the environmental and economic benefits which EV’s offer over and above any other drivetrain. As the world gets more and more environmentally-conscious more and more people are looking at alternative options to the traditional internal combustion engine vehicles. Environmentally, Electric vehicles offer the absolute best alternative. They produce zero emissions – they have no exhaust – and therefore have no negative impact on the environment. However, beyond the environmental benefits, more and more we are seeing people are really starting to realise  the day to day economic benefits that running an EV over a traditional ICE vehicle offer. It costs an average of one cent per km to run an EV, that’s a phenomenal €200 a year to drive an average 20,000km. An equivalent petrol engine would cost about seven cent per km to run. Servicing an EV is also much more cost efficient than a traditional vehicle because there are fewer running parts and as such there are significant savings to be had here too. A conservative estimate of the average annual savings which a new LEAF offers over an equivalent petrol engine amounts to €1,350 per year. That’s comparing a new EV with a new petrol vehicle.  If you were to change from an older car, petrol or diesel, into an EV (new or old) the annual savings you would benefit from are likely to be considerably higher.


Emma Toner
Marketing Manager, Gowan Distributors

How did you get into the motor business?

As a graduate, just arrived in Dublin from the wee North, I was fortunate enough to land a temporary position in Gallic Distributors, former Citroen Importers, in the Accounts Department. It was just when the Celtic Tiger began to roar, the new Citroen Xsara was being launched and the motor industry as a whole was taking off. It was all terribly exciting and interesting. There really is no other industry like the motor industry. I loved it so much, I took any temporary position I could in the company, working in warranty, sales, admin for seven months. Eventually I left, for a full time job elsewhere, but spotted a permanent position for a Marketing Analyst in Gowan Distributors, Peugeot Importers and sister company to Gallic Distributors, some months later. I applied and luckily got the job. The rest, as they say, is history.

Who taught you how to drive?

My father taught me, on County Down back roads to school when I was 17 in a VW Passat estate that felt humungous to me! I was so cautious, I remember my brother asking if he could get out of the car and walk ahead! I did my first driving test in East Sussex when I was 18, whilst I was working in a hotel as a student. I eventually passed the driving test, some years later, in Dublin. I won’t say how many times I sat the test but needless to say, it took a couple of times.

What was your first car?

A ruby red Peugeot 106 1.1 litre petrol three-door hatchback bought brand new on finance, before I had my driving test, and named Betsy Beep Beep. It was one of the first 1.1 litre petrol 106s in the country and I was so proud of it. I fitted a CD player as an extra. Soon after, I got my first company car, a burnt orange Peugeot 206 that every one of my friends was jealous of.

Favourite car of all time?

The Peugeot RCZ R. A purely selfish car, with room only for one plus one! Gorgeous looking, fiercely fast. Divine!

Why do you think there are so many women involved in the motor trade in Ireland?

I think there aren’t enough women in the Irish Motor Industry. The annual Ladies at SIMI day is a great day to meet female peers from all across the industry, but every time we each say, there is room for more growth.

Are Electric Cars (EV) the way forward?

Yes, but we’re a little way away. Diesel isn’t dead, petrol is growing, hybrids will multiply first and then pure electric will take over. By 2020, there’ll be more choice on the market from an increasing number of brands. It’s a very exciting time in the motor industry!

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