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Fuel-saving mirror gets $2.4 million green grant

Looking into it: Australian auto parts-maker SMR Automotive Australia is working on a lightweight mirror to replace current glass mirrors in production here and overseas.

SA parts-maker eyes global car rear-view mirror market with lightweight design

General News logo1 Jun 2010


AN ADELAIDE automotive parts-maker is developing a lightweight, fuel-saving car exterior rear-view mirror which the company predicts will capture eight per cent of the global market.

SMR Automotive Australia – a branch of multinational manufacturer Samvardhana Motherson Reflectec Group – has received $2.4 million from the federal government’s Green Car Innovation Fund to help develop the fuel-saving mirrors in co-operation with the University of South Australia.

Already a major supplier of rear-vision mirrors and other components for the Australian and international motor industries, the company is planning to establish a pilot plant in South Australia to make the new mirrors which it says will cut car fuel consumption.

Green Car grants are generally awarded on a three-for-one spending ratio, meaning the federal government’s $2.4 million should be matched by $7.2 million from SMR, lifting the total spend to $9.6 million.

 center imageLeft: Federal innovation minister Kim Carr.

Announcing the grant, federal innovation minister Kim Carr said SMR Automotive was planning to adapt leading-edge technology to manufacture the rear-view mirrors at the pilot plant.

“The company estimates that if the pilot project leads to full production, its mirrors would lead to more fuel-efficient vehicles, saving about 400,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions over five years,” he said.

“This is a great example of the way Australia can specialise in a niche product and take new ideas to the world.

“SMR Automotive Australia will be working with the University of South Australia to develop the mirrors.

“The company estimates that the pilot plant will initially supply about eight per cent of the global automotive market’s needs for rear view mirrors.”

SMR Automotive Australia already exports 78 per cent of its production to customers in the US, Europe and Asia.

In Australia, SMR components for Australian car-makers and export include rear view mirrors, fuel filler flaps, door handles, interior lighting consoles, switches, electronics and side-turn signal lamps.

The Australian operation was founded in 1974 as Rainsford’s, then Britax before joining the Schefenacker group and finally the Samvardhana Motherson Group in March 2009 as part of the Samvardhana Motherson Reflectec group.

The Samvardhana Motherson Reflectec Group has factories the US, Mexico, the UK, Hungary, Spain, France, India, Korea and China, as well as Australia. It is part of the broader Samvardhana Motherson Group, which was founded in 1975 to make electric wiring and wiring harnesses for cars.

It since branched out into a wide range of the automotive products, including injection moulding, tooling, complete car cockpits, pedal boxes, lighting systems and many other products and services.

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