Volkswagen Group Ireland chief executive Simon Elliott is leaving to take up a new role as managing director of VW-owned Man truck and bus division in Britain.
During his tenure, VW Group's brands – which include Skoda, Seat, Audi and VW – have grown to a situation where they now account for 27 per cent of the Irish passenger car market.
Mr Elliott said the sales growth was down to continued support and investment in the Irish operations at a time when rivals were “hiding under the table and couldn’t see the end game with the recession”. He also pointed to the arrival of VW Bank as a major influence on sales growth, when many other institutions were slow to lend. During his tenure Volkswagen became the biggest selling car brand in Ireland, the Golf the best-selling car in Ireland and Audi the biggest selling marquee in the premium segment.
According to Mr Elliott, the Irish economic landscape is looking a lot brighter than it did when he arrived. “In particular the growth in light commercial vehicle sales, up 45 per cent this year - is a very encouraging sign. These are local businesspeople, not big corporate deals but sole traders who are investing in their businesses.”
Mr Elliott said: “My greatest regret is not being able to secure a site for a full-scale Audi operation in south Co Dublin, which could amount to 100 new jobs. We have been repeatedly refused planning permission for a site in the Sandyford area.”
He once more criticised the imposition of Vehicle Registration Tax (VRT) on the new car market, referring to it as a “stifling tax” that is “pushing people out of the market and into used imports from Britain”.
A major supporter of League of Ireland football, VW Group brands and dealers sponsor several teams and grassroots initiatives. Elliott said it would be up to his successor whether these deals would continue in the long-term.
The appointment of a new chief executive for the group’s Irish operation is not expected until September.