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Action stations: A short-wheelbase Tomcar TM-2 is put through its paces in Melbourne ahead of local production from late 2012.

Australia’s first all-terrain vehicle to be built in Melbourne from the end of 2012

12 Apr 2012

AUSTRALIA will soon have a new vehicle manufacturer, with the decision by Tomcar Australia to produce its all-terrain vehicles in Melbourne.

The new facility is being established as a joint venture with experienced automotive components supplier MTM Automotive, which provides car parts to Ford, Holden and Toyota locally, and General Motors globally.

Production is expected to commence in the fourth quarter this year, initially at the rate of 200 vehicles in the first six months, ramping up to 500 in the following six months and 1000 after that.

The Tomcar was developed in Israel for military use – including by NATO in Afghanistan – but the Australian operation is keen to expand sales in the mining and agricultural industries.

All three models previously imported from Israel will be produced at MTM’s facility in the south-east suburb of Oakleigh South and priced from $25,000.

They will be powered by a choice of 1.0-litre petrol or 1.4-litre diesel four-cylinder engines driving the rear wheels.

Tomcar has secured support from the Victorian government, which was naturally delighted to promote the creation of new jobs in the local auto industry after recent stand-downs and closures at Ford, Toyota and Holden.

Although only 15 jobs will be created initially at the Melbourne factory, this is expected to grow to 50 as production is ramped up, along with a further 300 downstream with suppliers.

 center imageLeft: Mark Albert (left) and John Della Riva at the manufacturing announcement Tomcar TM-4 Tomcar TM-5.

MTM Automotive managing director Mark Albert, whose father founded the company in 1965, said he expects local content to be as high as 80 per cent.

Tomcar Australia is eyeing future export markets and holds the rights to the Asian region.

Tomcar may be one of Australia’s smallest vehicle manufacturers, but it can count on the experience of the biggest following the recruitment eight months ago of industry veteran and former Toyota Australia senior executive vice-president John Conomos.

Mr Conomos – who also sat on the board of Toyota Motor Corporation in Japan – said he was delighted to join the advisory board of the small Melbourne-based company.

“This now gives me a chance to participate in the exciting growth potential of this small but dynamic company,” said Mr Conomos in August.

“The key reason is because the product itself is truly outstanding and exhibits capabilities for off-road performance like no other I have experienced in more than 40 years in the motor industry.

“It is a privilege to be associated with the product.”

Having been developed for use in the battlefield, the Tomcar employs a simple design to allow quick repair capabilities in the field.

The fully welded steel spaceframe chassis provides a safety cell around the occupants, the electronics have been kept simple and aeronautic-specification aluminium skid plate protects the underside of the vehicle.

Power is delivered to the rear wheels via a belt-drive CVT (continuously variable transmission) and a transfer case that provides high and low range, even though it is only two-wheel drive.

Heavy-duty suspension – double-wishbone at the front and trailing link at the rear – employs gas-hydraulic shock absorbers and dual coil springs at each corner, while the steering is by “re-buildable” rack-and-pinion and the steering wheel is height-adjustable.

Normal dual-beam Halogen headlights are fitted, along with brake lights and indicators, instrumentation includes a speedo, voltmeter, fuel gauge and engine temperature, and warning lamps are provided for low oil pressure, indicators and high beam.

Tomcar Australia co-founder David Brim said he was excited to be setting up full manufacturing facilities in Melbourne.

“Tomcar will be the first vehicle of its type manufactured in Australia and will fill a growing demand for this specialist all-terrain vehicle,” he said.

“The Victorian government has been very helpful in helping us decide to set up in Victoria, and the local auto industry has an impressive base of local suppliers for us. We can almost source the entire vehicle here.

“MTM Auto are well-respected and have the expertise to produce a high-quality vehicle for us and the Australian consumer.”

The three models offered by Tomcar Australia are the TM-2, a small two-seater riding on a 2050mm wheelbase, the long-wheelbase (2810mm) TM-4 with a second pair of seats, and the TM-5, a two-seater with a 2560mm wheelbase and a tray that provides a payload of up to 650kg (compared with 200kg for the other two models).

MTM Auto boss Mark Albert told GoAuto that only one dealer had been appointed to date – Townsville Toyota dealer Mike Carney – but that two more would be appointed by the end of this year while every state would be covered by mid-2013.

Last year, MTM had a turnover of about $25 million, with about 30 per cent of that being exports to North America, India, Thailand, Argentina and South Africa – mainly for automatic shifter mechanisms and door checks.

MTM recently concluded a deal with Proton in Malaysia for gearshift lock mechanisms worth $10 million over five years.

Victorian manufacturing, exports and trade minister Richard Dalla-Riva welcomed both the export and Tomcar manufacturing deals, saying they were a much-needed boost to the state’s manufacturing industry.

“This is a fantastic win for Victoria,” he said.

“This historic deal will see the production of up to 5000 Tomcars in South Oakleigh over the next five years, will give a much-needed boost to the local auto industry supplier network and create valuable local jobs.

“The auto industry is under pressure at the moment, and this is great news for the industry as a whole.”

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