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Gabriel Keane, managing director of Kia Liffey Valley, has been elected as the new president of the Society of the Irish Motor Industry (SIMI) - the umbrella body that represents Ireland's car distributors and dealers. Mr Keane was elected at SIMI's annual general meeting held in the Kilashee Hotel in Naas, Co. Kildare.
Speaking at SIMI's AGM, Gabriel Keane commented that he has experienced the highs and lows of the industry. "Some great years and some terrible years. And unfortunately, 2019 will not go down in the annals as a great year. Over the last three years we have seen the new car market decline by nearly 25 per cent. Obviously, Brexit was the main cause of this downturn and while we are by no means out of the woods on Brexit there is a feeling that a softer Brexit may become a reality. I do believe that if this happens, we will see growth in the new car market in 2020."
Mr Keane remarked that "the new car market has also declined in 2019 because of the increases in Vehicle Registration taxes in the last budget. The result is that the government's tax take on new cars will be down this year despite the tax increases.This is a loss for our industry and a loss for the Exchequer."
He stated that "achieving a better taxation regime for cars and having environmentally cleaner cars on our roads is a key objective for the SIMI and called on the Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe to take this into account in the next budget in October, by implementing any changes in vehicle taxation that will allow the Industry sell more new cars in 2020."
Mr Keane's previous experience includes being a director of Nissan Ireland, and managing director of Windsor Motors. Since founding Kia Liffey Valley in 2014, Mr Keane has seen it go on to become the largest Kia dealership in Ireland, as well as one of the top ten Kia dealers in Europe.