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Exclusive: Tomcar gaining traction in Australia

Digging in: Tomcar’s range of three models is now available as five variants, and can be bought from its first automotive dealer at Claridge Holden in Adelaide.

Record sales, growing team and expanding line-up spells bumper year for Tomcar

2 Feb 2016

THE growth of Australian off-road vehicle-builder Tomcar is continuing with record sales, a new line-up, an expanded development centre, a growing national retail network and an all-new consumer website that goes live this week.

Since the creation of Tomcar Australia 10 years ago, the start-up manufacturer of compact all-terrain vehicles has been steadily gaining traction with local industry, agriculture and private customers, but 2016 is shaping up to be a milestone year.

With a three-month waiting list, the company is experiencing its longest lead times to date and has this week stopped taking orders while it addresses the production constraints.

However, Tomcar Australia co-founder and CEO David Brim told GoAuto in an exclusive interview this week that the company is growing to meet the demand.

“We have been selling record numbers: a record January, record November and December,” he said.

“Any car ordered today, there is a three-month waiting list, but we are looking at doubling production. We need to be careful with supply chain and long lead-time items.”

A twofold increase at the Oakleigh South factory in Melbourne’s south-east would ensure four Tomcar ATVs roll out of the production facility per week – an achievement made possible by the company’s flexible and scalable manufacturing processes, according to Mr Brim.

But increasing output is only part of Tomcar’s expansion strategy, he said, and the boosted production line would be supported by a growing sales, engineering and production team.

“We are growing. We hired a new engineer, we are hiring a few more mechanics in the next few months, we’ve just hired a new sales director, the factory team is going gangbusters,” he said.

Tomcar is not stopping there and for the continued expansion of the team, the company is seeking a financial investor through global accounting specialist PwC.

“We are currently working with PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) doing a capital raise. We are looking for someone who loves cars and appreciates what we are doing. We are being quite selective because we want someone who can add something to the table,” Mr Brim said.

“That money will be used to grow our sales and support team. All we need is human beings. I don’t need millions of dollars’ worth of robots.”

The growing team will be accommodated at Tomcar’s new larger development centre in Moorabbin, Victoria, where the evolving line-up of go-anywhere vehicles are being designed and tested.

In addition to the growing Melbourne-based team and dealers around the country, Tomcar has also signed its first automotive dealer outlet.

“We’ve just signed Claridge Holden to be our dealer in South Australia. They are very progressive. They are a second-generation Holden dealer, South Australia is going through a shift with Holden and they are looking to support Australian manufacturing. They get what we are trying to do.”

The Holden dealership will offer a bricks-and-mortar centre for Tomcar customers in South Australia as well as representing the brand among agricultural communities at various shows around the state.

“Adelaide is a big country town, so with them we are going to all the farming shows. They are a traditional dealer but you can still go to the website and buy the car directly from us and have it delivered to South Australia or buy through them. The price is the same,” he said.

Since the range of TM2 two-seaters, TM4 four-seaters and TM5 utes went on sale, customers have been able to order via the Tomcar website and as part of the company expansion and restructure, tomcar.com.au has been relaunched.

As well as details about the introduction of five new variants to the Tomcar range, the new website employs the services of another Melbourne start-up company LeadChat, which provides real-time chat-box-style assistance with a human operator.

While the agricultural community remains the company’s core customer base, Tomcar is branching out into other markets including a greater focus on recreational users and military clients.

“Of the top 10 pastoral companies in Australia, we’ve sold to six of them so we are becoming the vehicle of choice for the agricultural community. People are getting fed up with machines that break, are made of plastic and aren’t made here,” Mr Brim said.

Farming customers are being targeted with a new Pro Farmer variant, recreational customers are being offered an Adventurer version, while a highly specialised Mil Spec Tomcar is now on offer to civilian owners and armed forces alike.

“The main purpose of a Tomcar is special ops. They are designed to be strategically dropped behind enemy lines with a small crew, do a mission and get back. They do secret things,” he said.

“We’ve been speaking to them (Australian armed forces) for years. We have had a number of trials and they’re really excited about it but even if I had sold some I wouldn’t be able to tell you about it. We are talking to a number of defence forces in the region.”

Negotiations with Australia’s military are shrouded in secrecy and are handled by a separate Tomcar Defence division, which is based at a different location in Melbourne.

The mining industry is another market in which Tomcar is looking to have more of a presence, and a specially developed mining-spec model is expected during 2016.

“Our strategy with the mining is to offer a commercially available off-the-shelf vehicle that’s made here in Australia – for us, by us,” Mr Brim said.

While Tomcar is gathering momentum with its combination of safe, dependable vehicles that support Australian manufacturing, Mr Brim said that customer service and satisfaction remains the company’s number-one focus, and that every customer to date has his personal mobile number.

“Car companies are quite elitist. They hide in their castles and are surrounded by a moat of dealers so the public don’t get access to the main manufacturer, but here they do.”

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