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Tomcar placed in voluntary administration

Power down: Tomcar’s electric LV1 all-terrain vehicle was aimed at mining companies with underground operations.

All-terrain vehicle-maker Tomcar Australia hits wall after ‘hostile’ takeover bid

General News logo8 Feb 2018

ANOTHER Australian motor manufacturer has run into trouble, with all-terrain vehicle (ATV) producer Tomcar Australia placed in voluntary administration in a move described by company co-founder and director David Brim as “a devastating turn of events”.

High manufacturing costs, lower-than-expected sales volumes and legal costs associated with a “hostile takeover bid” have been blamed for the demise of the Melbourne-based niche manufacturer.

Insolvency specialist Jirsch Sutherland’s Chris Baskerville and Malcolm Howell have been appointed voluntary administrators.

In a statement to GoAuto, the administrators said Tomcar had already ceased to operate by the time they were appointed.

They said they were investigating whether the business could be sold, and if so, what assets were for sale.

They said a meeting of creditors would be held “in due course”.

Founded in 2005 by David Brim and his brother Michael and billed as Australia’s last remaining vehicle manufacturer after the demise of Ford, Holden and Toyota, the company designed and built small all-terrain vehicles, mainly for mining and farming applications but also defence forces and off-road enthusiasts.

Volumes were small, but revenue in the financial year ending June 30, 2017, was $1.55 million.

In recent times, Tomcar had partnered with the CSIRO in a $100,000 project to develop electric versions of its vehicles with the intention of going all-electric this year.

One of the target markets for such vehicles was underground mining where zero emissions would be a big advantage over fuels such as diesel.

Initial production of the vehicle, dubbed LV1, was to have been four a month, rising to eight a month by the end of 2017.

While the LV1 was to be priced about $100,000, Tomcar also offered more affordable petrol and diesel models from $28,000.

In a statement, David Brim said he and his brother had high hopes for Australian niche vehicle manufacturing.

“We have had to close our doors because of a group of hostile investors tried to take over the company from us, while ever-increasing manufacturing costs have put untold strain on the cashflow of the business,” he said.

“We recently had an overseas investor about to come on board, but at the last minute they backed out, leaving us with escalating legal fees and product costs, which simply pushed us over the edge.

“We want to thank everyone who supported our dream over the years and helped us along the way. It has been an incredible journey. We’ve tried our very best, but we couldn’t quite get there.”

A year ago, Tomcar and mining company UXA Resources announced a memorandum of understanding “to realise expansion of its business and progress to an ASX IPO listing”.

UXA’s initial investment in Tomcar was said to be more than $1 million, along with management expertise and access to capital to “set Tomcar on a sustainable growth path”.

The deal was due to kick in by later 2017, but it all appears to have fallen apart before then, with the parties heading to the Supreme Court in November.

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