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Metal Casting Technologies : Dec 2009
22 www.metals.rala.com.au he worst of the storm may have passed in terms of the global economic woes but Australia's automotive components sector has a long way to go in creating a healthy future. Last December, MCT Magazine reported that a number of the 200 specialist component suppliers had announced employee redundancies and some had appointed administrators. Since then the Federal Government has started its $6.2 billion plan to make the automotive industry more economically and environmentally sustainable by 2020. The Green Car Plan features an expanded $1.3 billion Green Car Innovation Fund which will provide Australian car companies with the opportunity to receive Government funding to design and sell environmentally friendly cars. The Innovation Fund will see the Australian Government match industry investment in green cars on a $1 dollar to $3 dollar basis over a ten year period from 2009. But as Juergen Bracht was reported as saying in September, "No one has the three quarters to invest." Bracht from suspension maker ZF Lemforder said the company is yet to see a return on its $35 million in investment in Australia which means further outlay is impossible. Production rates of locally made cars are likely to drop from 324,000 in 2008 to around 230,000 this year. The three automotive manufacturers have been awarded grants under the Green Car Innovation Fund. They include $149 million to GM Holden to build the four-cylinder Cruze; $42 million to Ford to offer a four-cylinder Falcon and diesel Territory; and $35 million for Toyota to build a hybrid Camry. To date, no component companies have been awarded grants under the scheme however Richard Reilly, CEO of the FAPM (Federation of Automotive Product Manufacturers) told MCT magazine that some companies are likely to receive funding but it hasn't been announced yet. "We're advertising it of course to our members...but it does take time and resources, it's a long application process for government grants." According to the Federal Government, the Green Car Plan is expected to generate $16 billion in investment in the Australian automotive industry over the life of the plan, including more than $3.5 billion in government funding. As part of the Plan, the Automotive Industry Innovation Council (AIIC), representing industry stakeholders, was formed in December 2008 to drive the innovation agenda. In September, the AIIC released a report, the first phase of an "auto industry roadmap" which it believes will assist the industry to become more strategic in developing technologies and "play to its strengths". Specifically in relation to metals industries the report noted that Australian industry has a strong level of technological capability in aluminium/magnesium casting & forming and high pressure magnesium casting for car bodies and chassis; aluminium, magnesium casting & forming for drivelines; and experimental foundry for lightweight, low cost materials. These tended to be stronger in relation to drivelines with internal combustion engines as opposed to non-internal combustion. However, Australia also has a strong level of capability in batteries and power systems development and lightweight batteries. The report also noted relatively strong capabilities in designing vehicles for lighter weight in general including the use of high strength aluminium alloys. "The CSIRO is one of the leaders in the world in car battery technology," said Richard Reilly, "If we can't sell that to the rest of the world then there's something wrong." Smar t component sector needed to make the switch to 'green' By Paula Wallace T ACCORDING TO THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT, THE GREEN CAR PLAN IS EXPECTED TO GENERATE $16 BILLION IN INVESTMENT IN THE AUSTRALIAN AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRY OVER THE LIFE OF THE PLAN...
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