Ireland has developed a technically strong automotive components industry that currently exports more than EUR 282 million a year to European car manufacturers such as General Motors, Daimler-Chrysler, Ford, Audi, BMW, and Renault. The majority of the industry’s customers are based in Germany and the UK.
Ireland's components industry comprises 30 enterprises, most of them operating some of the largest manufacturing plants in the country employing altogether around 7,000 people. Only four of the companies are Irish-owned and the remainder are mainly German and U.S. multinationals. The components sector has expanded considerably during the past ten years manufacturing a range of products from low technology, labor intensive parts such as wire harnesses to high technology electronic items requiring highly skilled labor. Rising costs and growing competitive pressures have led to plant closures at the low-tech end of the industry while also encouraging other companies to move up the added value scale. Software is a significant and rapidly growing part of this strategy and, with the move towards standardization across the sector, Ireland has the potential to claim a significant share of a global market which is estimated to be worth €133 billion by 2015.
Ireland possesses considerable assets for competing in the global economy including a highly-educated workforce, advanced manufacturing systems, a national research and development strategy, and a variety of business-friendly, tax-based initiatives.
Experts see much future growth in the auto sector as likely to come from new operations that provide back-office services rather than manufacturing. A prime example of this new genre is Ingersoll-Rand, which has set up its global sales and service office in Swords.