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Micro economics

Spot the difference: Subaru has used microdot technology on all its cars since 2003. Ford and Holden currently add DataDot to their FPV and HSV performance cars.

FCAI throws microdot marking back to individual car-makers

General News logo8 Jul 2005

IT IS a $150 impost, but the widespread application of microdot vehicle security technology comes down to just one thing – commercial reality.

After calls last week by NSW police minister Carl Scully to make microdot vehicle marking compulsory on all new cars, the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries, despite being the industry representative body, has thrown the issue back to individual car-makers.

FCAI chief Peter Sturrock admitted there were significant benefits to the technology but commented: "We haven’t got to a point of taking a view as to any wider application because it is very much a commercial application".

"I can understand a state minister wanting to see it adopted unilaterally across the industry, but there a many things from a safety viewpoint that could be advocated – and it gets down to that cost issue," he said.

"It’s not inexpensive as a system but it still comes at a cost." The logistics and cost of making the technology available across many models and many brands was also another key consideration, he said.

"Clearly it has been successfully adopted by a number of brands. But whether it has a similar application across the industry is another matter," he said.

Mr Sturrock acknowledged vehicle theft and professional "rebirthing" was a major problem but said the bulk of vehicles stolen were primarily four, five and even six years old, according to vehicle theft figures.

GoAuto understands microdot technology costs about $150 per vehicle, but can be significantly reduced when large numbers are put through the process.

According to the National Motor Vehicle Theft Reduction Council, one vehicle is stolen every six minutes across the country, amounting to 90,000 vehicles a year – one of the highest rates of vehicle theft in the Western world.

The theft rate costs the community about $1 billion a year through higher premiums and police actions through the court system, according to the Council.

The insurance industry is clearly in favour of theft reduction measures.

One insurance analyst GoAuto spoke to said he failed to understand the reluctance by car companies to add such a vital feature.

"If you look at Subaru, there is a tangible benefit with lowering insurance premiums on its WRX and STi models fitted with DataDot and key-pad immobilisers," he said.

"I don’t understand why the other brands don’t absorb the cost and bite the bullet with this technology." Subaru has used microdot technology on all its cars since 2003. Of the local manufacturers, Ford and Holden currently add DataDot to their high-performance FPV and HSV vehicles.

Mitsubishi Australia equipped its discontinued Ralliart Magna with the technology, and its new all-wheel drive turbocharged Lancer Evo IX will also come with VIN-containing ‘DNA’ on undisclosed components when it arrives here later this year.

Toyota Australia does not offer it at all.

As well as Subaru, importers Porsche, Audi, BMW and Mini also use the feature.

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