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.


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…




5 responses

26 11 2008

Also, how about Australian’s making cars that more people want to drive! Most people I know don’t own an Australian built car (including myself), and as an engineer I am sadded. But, we don’t make small sized, fuel efficient, fun to drive, practical cars. I have no need for a V6, massively oversized car. My 4 door VW Golf is gorgeous, fun to drive, economical and well made. Why would I buy a Holden or Ford?
I agree about the Tesla .. would love to see and drive one some day!

27 11 2008

I know – I will never understand why a “car designed for the Australian market” means big, ugly and inefficient. It’s no longer the 80’s!

2 12 2008

I also read somewhere that Tesla motors is making a four door salon.

2 12 2008
11 01 2009

@adrian: Bring that on!

If Tesla think they can make a £15,000 ($30,000) four-door saloon and sell 100,000, then imagine the price an Aussie company could put on an all-electric Falcon/Commodore replacement, where they’d sell 100,000 a year!

As an aside, I don’t understand why no-one is taking advantage of modern electronics to allow electric cars’ personalities to be changed at the driver’s whim. I’d like a rotary switch on the dash where I can choose Telsa-style performance (at the cost of range) -or- maximum range -or- maximum time before recharge (note the difference). Surely there’s no technical reason why this can’t be done – it’s just controlling the current you feed to the motor(s) ?

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