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Bosch wants annual inspections
Local parts-maker cites safety concerns as it lobbies government in Canberra
5 Dec 2011
By IAN PORTER
THE giant Robert Bosch car parts group will meet Senator Kim Carr on Wednesday in a bid to persuade the federal government to introduce annual vehicle inspections across the country.
The proposal is one of several topics the president of Robert Bosch Australia, Gavin Smith, will raise when he meets the Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research in Canberra.
Mr Smith, the first Australian to head the local arm of Bosch since it was established in Melbourne in 1922, said the company’s ‘Road Safety for Everyone’ proposal – which is part of an international campaign – is driven by the need to ensure that cars are as good as they can be in emergency situations.
He told GoAuto that better-maintained older cars will not only save lives and reduce road trauma, they will also produce an environmental benefit.
Mr Smith said he believed that annual inspections might also generate some new cars sales that could help the ailing local carmakers.
The slump in sales of locally made cars in recent years was the main reason behind Bosch’s decision to shift several of its automotive parts manufacturing operations offshore over the next two years.
But Mr Smith said road safety is the main thrust of the company’s proposal.
Left: Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and research Kim Carr.
“If I buy a car today, I can quite happily drive it uninterrupted for as long as I like and never have it inspected, never have it serviced and never have any care for the safety elements in that vehicle,” he said.
“It only becomes a problem for me if I want to sell it. That’s a nonsense.”
Annual inspections are required in Germany and other parts of Europe, New Zealand and in many other places, Mr Smith said.
He sees the introduction of annual inspections as a logical step forward from the recent mandatory introduction of electronic stability control, starting in Victoria from January 1 this year across the country from this month for all new models.
“That means new cars have technology that makes them safer, but we have millions of cars on the road that don’t have that. So what do we do about those cars?” said Mr Smith.
“If the modern cars are able to brake faster, change direction more easily and are inherently more stable, that means that the older cars that they interact with are at a higher risk of running into them when those modern cars stop faster.”
Mr Smith said it would not be an easy decision for politicians to make because it will force many car owners to spend more on maintaining their cars.
But he said both the Victorian government, with its ESC decision, and the federal government had shown a willingness to tackle difficult policies in recent times.
“I don’t say it is an easy topic, but I guess the (federal) government has demonstrated with the carbon tax and a variety of other initiatives that they are not just looking for the easy way out.
“This is something that I think is worthwhile getting on people’s agenda.”
Bosch Australia did a similar thing five years ago when it started urging governments to think about making ESC compulsory.
“Five years ago we were very vocal about the need for it on new cars. It was a fantastic day when the Victorian Government decided it should be mandatory.
“I think today no-one questions that it was the right thing to be done.
“But are we brave enough to also consider the millions of other cars that are already on the road where there is a basic and inherent resistance by consumers to spend money on appropriate maintenance.”
Mr Smith said it was well proven that car owners have their cars serviced less after the warranty period expires, which leads to an accelerated degradation of the car’s safety performance.
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