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by Tim Beissmann

The Federal Government has announced a further $200 million funding boost for the Australian automotive industry and mandated a 100 per cent Australian-made target for the purchase of Commonwealth fleet passenger cars.

Industry minister Kim Carr says the support package is designed to increase sales of locally made cars, reaffirming the government’s belief that the automotive industry is “vital” to Australia’s economic future.

“The motor vehicle manufacturing industry in this country provides thousands of jobs, billions of dollars in export income and investment and benefits in research and development,” Carr said.

“Our actions will provide crucial ongoing support for an industry that has been under considerable pressure with a high Australian dollar over an extended period and an increasingly competitive global market.”

Carr says the government is considering a range of options for the use of the $200 million funding boost, and is in discussions with Australia’s three local car makers about how it can be directed to best support growth in sales; that includes HoldenToyota and even Ford, despite its planned withdrawal from manufacturing locally in 2016.

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The target for all new passenger vehicles added to the Commonwealth fleet to be Australian-made promises to boost sales by several thousand per year.

Carr said if all levels of government adopted the Federal Government’s target, sales of Australian-made vehicles could increase by over 18,000 units per year – representing an eight per cent increase on 2012 production volumes.

Sales of locally manufactured vehicles were down almost a quarter in the first half of this year (52,602 vs 69,676) compared with the same period in 2012. Registrations of Australian-made Holden models fell by more than one-third, while sales of locally built Ford and Toyota vehicles were both down roughly 14 per cent.

The Australian automotive industry is currently assessing the government’s assistance package. Representatives from Holden and Toyota said they would not comment until receiving further information and specific details from the government.

Reports last month suggested Holden was chasing an extra $265 million in government funding to shore up production of its next-generation Commodore and Cruze models.




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