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APV crashes through into new markets

Safety first: APV managing director Harry Hickling with new crash test dummies representing small women which are required for the latest ANCAP test protocols.

$2 million crash centre upgrade and new production lines as APV lifts sales 33%

18 Jul 2018

INDEPENDENT vehicle safety tester and seatbelt manufacturer Australian Performance Vehicles (APV) has made a $2 million upgrade to its crash test centre while also adding two more manufacturing production lines as it expands its Melbourne operations to handle flourishing local and export business.
The company – which took over the Australian operations of Swedish global vehicle safety supplier Autoliv in 2011 – has revealed 33 per cent growth in sales revenue in the 2017-18 financial year, partly because of expansion into diversified markets such as the military equipment industry, with customers that even include a vehicle supplier to the United States Marine Corps.
The growth has prompted the company to increase staff by 20 per cent. Newcomers include former Holden vehicle manufacturing operations director Martin Merry who was hired by APV to head up its APV-S Safety Products division.
Mr Merry is using his experience in managing Holden’s Elizabeth manufacturing plant to oversee the APV manufacturing operations and ensure on-time delivery of safety harnesses and related products such as seatbelt retractors to the growing list of customers in Australia, New Zealand, the US, Europe and Asia.
The separate APV-T Tech Centre is upgrading its crash testing centre to meet the new protocols of the Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) which regularly tests new cars at the internationally accredited APV centre.
APV managing director Harry Hickling told GoAuto that ANCAP’s adoption of European-developed harmonised full-frontal crash testing from the start of this year required APV to invest in new equipment, including upgraded cameras and specialised crash dummies that for the first time include a dummy representing a fifth percentile (small) woman.
Mr Hickling said APV had started testing according to the new protocols in May, but the capability would expand with the arrival next month of new side-test crash dummies as part of the $2 million upgrade.
Euro NCAP representatives came to Australia to review the first test results with the objective of ensuring any tests done by APV for ANCAP would be internationally recognised.
Mr Hickling said that despite the closure of the Toyota, Holden and Ford manufacturing operations, APV was continuing to win crash-test business from OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) and automotive accessory suppliers.
Australian design rule (ADR) compliance requires a full-frontal crash test that some manufacturers, including right-hand-drive conversion specialists, choose to do at APV.
Bullbars and seat covers are among the accessories tested at the centre to ensure they do not interfere with the normal safety functions of vehicles.
The efforts were recognised by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) Australia when it presented the company with its 2017 Platinum Award. 
Once a seatbelt-maker for the Australian car industry, APV now sells its products to a wide range of manufacturers, including bus, truck and military vehicle manufacturers. Safety harnesses for motorsport and industrial applications are also catered for.
On the military side, APV supplied 1000 seatbelt harnesses worth $1 million to American manufacturer ArmorWorks for specialised anti-blast seating for military vehicles.
These seats help to protect soldiers from the effects of land mines and improvised explosive devices (IEDs). In the case of the APV harness order, the seats are bound for vehicles to be used by the US Marines.
The order builds on existing military contracts that APV has been building for several years, and according to Mr Hickling, supplies harnesses for many of the world’s most advanced military vehicles.
The growing manufacturing business is good news for APV whose APV Automotive Components business closed with the loss of 87 jobs in 2012.
The division was a victim of falling sales of Australian-built large cars such as the Holden Commodore and Ford Falcon.

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