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EDay still here, but so are hurdles

What was: The EDay E15 EV was at one stage on the radar for Australia, but now it’s not as clear.

Low-emissions vehicle start-up EDay may look to mining investors for a boost

EDay logo5 Jun 2013

By IAN PORTER

WHILE some are lamenting the deflation of the mining boom, Melbourne-based EDay Life is hoping it will breathe life into its plan to help develop and import low-emission vehicles from China.

The company has had a slow response to its information memorandum seeking to raise $6.5 million from investors, and now managing director Robert Lane plans to attract disappointed mining investors into the vehicle industry instead.



“We have a couple of cars lined up in China,” Mr Lane said yesterday. “They need a bit of work and we have to pay for that.”

“Now that mining is on the nose, there may be a lot more capital available,” he said.

EDay Life has scoured China for suitable vehicles to import to Australia, candidates for specific modifications designed by EDay director – and former director of safety and innovation at GM Holden – Laurie Sparke.

Dr Sparke has been advising primarily in the conversion to right-hand drive and has also been casting a wary eye over the safety performance of some of the candidate vehicles.

EDay has plans to include novel ideas such as using a tablet computer as a dashboard and also using a roof-mounted airbag that inflates between the driver and front passenger to prevent head injuries in a T-bone accident, one of the more common crashes in the suburbs.



 center imageLeft: Robert Lane and Laurie Sparke.

However, EDay has been disappointed by last-minute hurdles in its dealings with Chinese car-makers, including sudden demands for the funding for engineering changes.

The company wants to import a car that can be supplied with petrol, diesel and electric drivetrains so buyers can make a simple choice according to their needs.

It has brought several prototypes to Australia in the past and announced a launch date, only to miss deadlines due to a lack of subscribed capital and the inability to complete the necessary engineering modifications.

Mr Lane said he was reluctant to order even 100 vehicles before EDay had raised sufficient capital to fund the project properly.



“I don’t want to be a in a position where we bring in a handful of vehicles and say, ‘here, we are ready to go’ and then build an order bank that I can’t fund.



“So I’m better off getting the funding up front and then move ahead gently from there and let it evolve.



“We’re getting there. It’s slower than what I was expecting and in the meantime the technology is improving.”Apart from his hope that, with the end of the mining boom, there may be capital looking for other places to invest, Mr Lane said EDay and the vehicle-retailing sector was facing other issues.



“There are some other headwinds. Ford’s demise confuses people about the automotive industry. Better Place’s demise confuses people about the electric car future.”However, he commended Ford on its decision to maintain its engineering, design and development operations at Broadmeadows.



“I think they should be congratulated,” he said. “They are keeping a lot of people on board, a lot of high-paid, intelligent people, the engineers, on board to develop global Ford platforms.



“They have retreated back the best way possible.”Mr Lane saw some parallels between the Ford plan to keep its engineering, design and development operations in Australia and what EDay was trying to do.



“That’s what we would like to do, be the brains trust here for the Chinese manufacturers.



“That’s always been part of our DNA, to make that happen. But the Chinese don’t seem to want to pay for it.



“I still think our process is the best, where we select a car, improve it, import it but also take the technology back to China for export to other countries.”He said EDay can help engineer a right hand drive version of a vehicle and assist in raising its safety rating, making it suitable for export to other RHD countries.

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