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Performax to open dealer network

Sting in the tail: Performax International is currently working on the conversion of a Chevrolet Corvette Stingray, which is proving to be something of a challenge for the company.

Aussie conversion specialist looks at dealer network to sell US-built pick-ups

7 Jul 2014

AUSTRALIAN vehicle conversion specialist Performax International is planning to develop a national dealer network to sell its range of converted American pick-up trucks, with the first retailers set to open their doors within 12 months.

The Queensland-based company imports and converts a number of pick-ups from the United States and re-engineers them to right-hand drive, including the Ford F-Series, Toyota Tundra, Chevrolet Silverado, GMC Sierra Denali and Dodge Ram.

In an interview with GoAuto, Performax International general manager Glenn Soper said that while the dealer network is in the early stages of planning, the company would soon release a prospectus to gauge interest from potential franchisees.

“That prospectus will outline what our expectations are and pricing structures and co-op programs for marketing, and there are expectations on their local area marketing and volume commitments,” he said.

“So we will be working towards having a dedicated dealer network across the country – hopefully by this time next year it will be all up and sorted.”

Mr Soper said the company wanted to cover all brands as a part of the dealer network as it would be more appealing to potential franchisees.

80 center imageLeft: Performax International general manager Glenn Soper.

“We are thinking that it makes us that much more a valuable commodity, instead of just having the Chevy or the Tundra, they can pull from our pool of vehicles and have the full collection as well.”

The company recently announced that it had been given Australian Design Rule (ADR) approval to re-engineer the 2014 Ford F-Series pick-up for right-hand drive, with customer deliveries commencing in August this year.

The planned dealer network is a part of a wider expansion for Performax which has seen the company recently advertise for an extra 10 staff members, on top of its 72 existing employees, with a further 20 likely to be added by the end of this year.

Mr Soper said that the increase in staff numbers will help meet local demand for the high-riding pick-ups, with several of the new positions slated for the conversion area, with administrative, sales and other appointments also likely.

As reported by GoAuto in January, Performax hired a pair of local automotive engineers that had recently worked with Holden and Ford to work on the conversion of the F-Series pick-up.

Mr Soper said he had received a number of applications from job seekers with recent experience at the beleaguered local car-makers, which are set to close their Australian manufacturing operations in 2016 (Ford) and 2017 (Holden and Toyota).

Mr Soper said that Ford Australia’s confirmation last year that it would introduce the new-generation Mustang muscle-car to its local line-up in 2015 has had a “big impact” on the business, with conversions for the US-built coupe dropping off considerably.

“Businesses always need to reinvent themselves and ... our decision was to be the one-stop shop for American pick-ups,” he said.

The company, which was originally known as Corvette Queensland, is in the process of engineering its first conversion of a 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray, which Mr Soper said is proving to be something of a challenge due to the compact nature of the sportscar’s cabin.

Despite the challenges, Mr Soper said the team was making good progress and the company has 20 interested parties waiting for the results of the Stingray conversion.

Discussing Fiat Chrysler Australia’s interest in adding the Ram pick-up to its local line-up, Mr Soper said there would still be a market for conversions of more powerful variants that are unlikely to be imported by the factory operation.

The 1500 variant is the entry-level Ram, with powertrains increasing in power with the 2500 and 2300 versions.

“In all the talk I have heard, it was only the 1500 version. And now they have that in a diesel it probably would be a wise choice to bring that to Australia and there is no doubt that would impact sales,” he said.

“But when you want a pick-up truck that has a definitive use, whether it is towing a boat, horse float or caravan, you are going to have to go to a 2500 for the capability. If people want a work pick-up you are still going to have to come to Performax for the big stuff.”

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