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Billionaire aims to revive Aussie vehicle manufacturing

Second life: South Australia’s Elizabeth site could once again host a vehicle manufacturing facility if billionaire Sanjeev Gupta is successful in acquiring Holden’s former factory assets.

Holden factory assets could be used to make new EV

23 Jan 2018

AUSTRALIAN vehicle manufacturing could be resurrected if British billionaire Sanjeev Gupta’s plans to buy some of Holden’s former factory assets to produce low-volume electric vehicles in Adelaide’s northern suburbs goes ahead.

Although no firm details have surfaced about the proposed deal, South Australia treasurer Tom Koutsantonis confirmed that talks were taking place between the SA state government and Mr Gupta’s GFG Alliance for the vehicle manufacturing equipment.

The new all-electric model born from the Holden’s ashes would be based on a prototype developed by Gordon Murray Design that uses iStream technology to streamline the manufacturing process and requires “up to 80 per cent less investment than traditional assembly plants”.

Speaking to ABC News, Mr Koutsantonis welcomed the idea of vehicle assembly returning to South Australia.

“What Mr Gupta is realising, like the rest of the world, is that electric vehicles … are the way of the future,” he said.

“We think we can manufacture a number of high-tech goods (but) if we could get back into automotive manufacturing that would be great.

“Ultimately this is a question between Sanjeev Gupta and General Motors Holden.”

 center imageLeft: UK businessman Sanjeev Gupta

GFG Alliance and Mr Gupta were previously responsible for buying Whyalla steelworks and injecting $1 billion into its operations to boost the plant’s steel production outputs while reducing costs.

Last month, Melbourne-based Pelligra Group committed to the purchase of the Elizabeth site and will redevelop the area into a business park with industrial, recreational and automotive interests including a Holden heritage museum.

When contacted by GoAuto, Holden – the last car-maker to shutter its Australian manufacturing operations after 69 years in October 2017 – declined to make a comment.

Federal energy minister Josh Frydenberg on the other hand – who recently called for more co-operation between national and state governments in pushing for electric vehicle adoption – threw his support behind the idea.

“He (Mr Gupta) has some exciting plans for South Australia and if he wants to invest in creating more jobs in this country, then of course we would always welcome that,” he said.

“I don’t know how advanced those plans are (but) he’s proven himself internationally to be an entrepreneur who gets results.”

Meanwhile, Australian Greens transport spokesperson senator Janet Rice criticised the Turnbull government for not doing more to support emissions-free motoring.

“The government is asleep at the wheel, doing little to support electric vehicles, even while business leaders such as Sanjeev Gupta are potentially willing to invest in electric vehicle manufacturing in Australia,” she said.

“Minister Josh Frydenberg talks big on electric vehicles, but without a timeframe for legislating strict vehicle emissions standards to require car-makers to reduce pollution, and with no incentives in sight for consumers or retailers to get EVs out the door, our transport pollution continues to skyrocket.

“Without strong vehicle emissions standards, Australia also risks becoming a dumping ground for the highest pollution car models in the global market.”

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