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Minister launches new Australian-built Tomcar
ATV-maker Tomcar an example of Australian ingenuity, says industry minister
9 May 2014
LOCAL manufacturers that are flexible enough to capitalise on market opportunities will stand themselves in good stead to survive once Australia's three largest car-makers shut up shop by 2017, says federal industry minister Ian Macfarlane.
Minister Macfarlane today visited the headquarters of MtM and Tomcar Australia in Melbourne's outer-suburbs for the launch of the first diesel-powered version of its farming-friendly All Terrain Vehicle (ATV).
Speaking at the opening event, the minister spoke highly of the vehicle and its producer MtM, which builds the vehicles on behalf of Tomcar Australia for rural, mining and military applications.
Tomcar Australia pays for the right to build and sell Tomcar vehicles here for farming and military purposes. The Tomcar brand originates from Israel, but the Australian version has little commonality.
“The auto industry in Australia is facing what can only be described as an extraordinarily challenging time,” said Mr Macfarlane.
“(But) companies will disappear. Other companies will survive and I have no doubt MtM is one of those.
“It has shown the innovation, inventiveness, intuition, the flexibility and the ability to follow where market opportunities lead to ensure that its business and the people who work for it and supply it have a bright future.”
MtM provides car parts to Ford, Holden and Toyota locally, and General Motors globally, and in 2012 received $400,000 to boost its Tomcar operations under the federal Automotive New Markets Program.
Tomcar Australia has sold its ATVs here for around one year, but has numerous trial vehicles out with mining fleets and the military, and plans to dramatically scale-up its production over the next five years.
After a slow start, the company has taken a number of new expressions of interest and plans to up its production to about 1000 vehicles in 2015 and grow to as many as 5000 units by 2018.
This production is solely domestic for now, with exports not yet on the agenda.
After having a go in the rugged ATV around a test-track, the federal minister said he was impressed.
“Yes I used to be a farmer – they're not farmers hands anymore – and when I was farming, if we could have had a vehicle like this, then it would have made our lives extraordinarily much simpler,” he said.
“We used to use utes and beat the hell out of them, then we progressed to four wheel drives and they beat the hell out of us. They were a large heavy and ungainly vehicle and unless you were doing a lot of kilometers on dirt roads they are not really suited to the farm environment.
“The difference with the Tomcar is that it has been built with one purpose in mind and that is to service the rural industry.”
Tomcar claims that its one-piece spaceframe chassis and passenger cell makes its range of ATVs the safest available option, and many times safer than large quadricyles (quad-bikes), which accounted for 15 fatalities on Australian farms last year.
“I was chairman of the rural industry Farmsafe – a workplace health and safety committee in Queensland and a sad reality of modern farming is that it is an inherently dangerous occupation.
“One of the biggest killers these days of farmers and more particularly their children is four-wheeled motorbikes.
“To have a vehicle that presents not only the epitome of utility in the true sense of the word but also to be as safe as this one is a great credit to those people involved.
“We went around the test-track, which I understand is actually a test track for motorbikes. I wouldn't have even taken a motorbike round there and I've ridden a motorbike most of my life.
“It is a phenomenal vehicle.”
MtM has produced and supplied automotive components to all Australian car manufacturers for 30 years, as well as winning overseas contracts to supply Cadillac in North America.
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