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LPG facilities flagged for Victoria, SA

What a gas: Victorian premier Denis Napthine was handed a proposal to build LPG-powered vehicles in Victoria at his automotive industry round table.

Proposal for “world-Class” LPG production facilities pitched to premier Napthine

19 Dec 2013

NEW LPG conversion production facilities have been proposed for both Victoria and South Australia in a bid to boost jobs and maintain some automotive production in the states following Holden’s decision to quit manufacturing in 2017.

Representatives from both the Victorian Automobile Chamber of Commerce (VACC) and Gas Energy Australia – the peak body representing alternative gaseous fuels in Australia – presented Victorian premier Denis Napthine with the proposal at his automotive industry round table yesterday.

Three sites have been mooted for the facilities in Melbourne, Geelong and Adelaide – the areas that will be hardest hit by the closure of Holden and Ford’s local operations in 2017 and 2016 respectively.

The proposal says the “world-class” facilities will be used to supply next-generation LPG vehicles such as SUVs, small cars, light-commercial vehicles and hybrids to the Australian market.

A statement said that around 500 jobs could be generated and the facilities combined could produce 45,000 LPG-powered vehicles.

VACC executive director David Purchase said the production facility would use the most advanced technology available and that it could help create a more sustainable manufacturing industry in Australia.

“The initiative will require industry and government cooperation to create a niche manufacturing capability for the Australian car industry that will be sustainable in the long term and make LPG vehicles a viable alternative for new-car buyers,” he said.

“These vehicles are not the LPG converted vehicles we know now. The vehicles rolling off the new production lines will utilise the most advanced LPG technology and include production of LPG-powered hybrid vehicles.”

The facilities would partner with a new national automotive Centre of Excellence to be built in Melbourne that would be responsible for research and development to design the next-generation LPG vehicles.

Both the centre and the production facilities could use skilled labour that were left jobless by US-owned Ford and Holden’s decision to withdraw from local manufacturing.

Gas Energy Australia director and CEO Michael Carmody said the facilities could assist in the move away from oil into other alternative fuels.

“This is an opportunity to create our own world-class LPG manufacturing facilities, using European and American production methods. It will also reduce our dependency on oil, improve Australia’s energy security, utilise an indigenous resource and reduce vehicle greenhouse gases.” Last week Holden announced it would close its local operations from 2017, leaving 2900 without work and further shattering an industry that was already flagging after Ford made a similar commitment earlier this year to shut its doors in 2016.

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