The Society of Automotive Engineers – Australasia (SAE-A) says rebuilding Australia’s car industry will save lives in an emergency such as the COVID-19 pandemic.
The SAE-A says it is the Asia Pacific professional body for automotive and mobility engineers and represents over 2000 automotive engineering professionals employed in Australia.
“Car manufacturers around the world are making masks, ventilators and other equipment, not just in America and Europe, but in countries like India and Mexico,” said Adrian Feeney, Chairman and CEO of the SAE-A. “Not so in Australia, where we see Ford Australia developing a surgical face shield, but having to do it in a parts distribution centre, not a car factory.
“It could all be so different if the government invested in reviving our car industry, starting with engineers and ultimately full-scale specialist manufacturing.”
Feeney said Australia still had vital automotive assets which could easily be preserved if the government moved as decisively as it had to protect other industries from the pandemic.
“We have that capacity right now [with] engineers, proving grounds, factories and other facilities that would cost hundreds of millions of dollars to rebuild if lost,” said Feeney. “It’s a big opportunity, with new players and technologies emerging all the time. Let’s not forget that Tesla got into full production by taking over a former GM-Toyota factory in California. Well, we have former Toyota and GM plants too, and Ford for good measure.
“Tomorrow’s car could be almost anything – autonomous, electric, all sorts of things, and Australian engineers are renowned for the flexible thinking these new technologies require.”
Feeney said the right initiative by Australia’s governments over the next two years could attract corporate investment in a resurgent, world-class local car industry.
“Let us not sit back and let countries like Mexico and India put us in the shade. Let’s be the smart country again and develop a new and exciting car and build it for the world,” said Feeney. “Which Australian Prime Minister wants to be known as the Ben Chifley of the 21st century? And then, next time we face a challenge that calls for world-class engineering and manufacturing capabilities, whether a virus or anything else, we will be ready and able to meet that challenge.”