A new $35 million government program will help Australia's automotive component manufacturers expand their operations and win new business over the coming four years.
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The Automotive New Markets Initiative will be jointly funded by the federal and Victorian governments, and is designed to assist local parts suppliers create new business opportunities in Australia and overseas.

Federal Industry Minister Greg Combet outlined the details of the initiative in Canberra yesterday as local car maker Holden revealed its $1 billion-plus co-investment deal that has shored up vehicle manufacturing in Australia until 2022.

The initiative will run over four years to 2015-2016, assisting suppliers to Holden, Ford, Toyota and other offshore vehicle manufacturers, and comprises three key elements.

A $30 million program will deliver merits-based grants to component manufacturers to expand their product range and/or their customer base. It will include assistance for research and development, pre-production development, early-stage commercialisation and factory retooling.

Additionally, the government will introduce support services to help suppliers improve their productivity and develop new business capabilities.

Lastly, the initiative will create an Automotive Envoy who will be responsible for strengthening links between local component makers and the global automotive market, and an Automotive Supplier Advocate who will help identify new customers and products in automotive and non-automotive industries in Australia.

Combet says the initiative will work in tandem with Holden’s promised ‘Suppliers’ Working Group’, which should help Australian component makers integrate more closely with General Motors’ global supply chains.

More than 200,000 Australian jobs rely on the automotive sector, in addition to the 55,500 workers that are directly employed in the industry.

Guidelines for the Automotive New Markets Initiative, which will be administered by the federal, Victorian and South Australian governments, are currently being developed.