Politics [2/3] (Supporting our Car Industry)

26 11 2008

Supporting our Car Industry

It’s been recently announced that the government intends to invest a few billion dollars into our struggling local car industry.

Why?!

I don’t think this is a good investment.

Sure there are many jobs on the line.  But those jobs are in jeopardy anyway; GM and Ford have been making huge losses for some time and there’s no obvious change on the horizon.  It seems like we’re just delaying the inevitable…

[It’s also interesting to note that GM’s market capital is less than we’re investing; if it were allowed – unlikely – Australia could buy GM.  Of course we’d also be buying the losses that they’re posting…]

What if the government instead invested the money into creating an Australian car company.  What if they set up an initiative for local people to design vehicles that are efficient, innovative, economical and, most importantly, could be exported.  We would build them overseas – there’s no way we can compete against the likes of China for labour costs – but our design and engineering here is of exceptional quality.  It seems to me that this kind of approach – creating products that we can sell outside of our own market – would be a better bet.

Better yet, get into negotiations with other car companies like Tesla Motors.

The Tesla Roadster

Tesla have developed an appealing electrically powered car and the technology could well kick-start a local effort if we could work out some licensing agreements.  I’ve been waiting for a Tesla Roadster to be available in Australia since it was first announced and a locally designed variant would be fantastic.

Or perhaps we could build on the Tango that my colleague JT loves.

The Tango

Not exactly the epitome of cool, this is one car that is hella-economical and radical enough that it might just work.  Especially if a suitably motivated government encouraged it’s use by supporting free half-width car parks or subsidized purchases.  After all, it wouldn’t just be helping out the new local market it would be helping the environment.

We should be looking at ways to make transport more economical and environmentally friendly.  Bailing out car companies that predominately produce large petrol-driven cars doesn’t seem to be smart long-term thinking…

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