There are only a few countries in the world with the capacity to design and produce a car from scratch. Australia is one of these countries, with the capacity to produce close to 200,000 vehicles a year for domestic consumption and to ship my car cross country. There are currently three car manufacturers operating down under:
* Ford Australia: Owned by Ford Motor Company, Ford Australia has two Victoria-based sites, in Norlane and Broadmeadows. The company manufactures cars for the domestic market as well as for Asia and Africa. Exported models include the Ikon and Fiesta. The company also designs and manufactures their own high-volume engines.
* Holden: A subsidiary of General Motors, based in Port Melbourne and Elizabeth (in South Australia). Holden builds GM cars for the Australian and Asian markets. They build several models, including the Chevrolet Cruze and the Vauxhall VXR8.
* Toyota Australia: Also located in Port Melbourne. They offer a wide variety of vehicles in Australia, including the Aurion and Camry (both conventional and hybrid).
A Rockland County used cars dealer tells us that Australia got started in the automotive industry by manufacturing steam-powered cars. In 1896, Herbert Thomson and Edward Holmes built the Phaeton steamer in Melbourne. It was the first Australian car to feature domestically produced pneumatic tires.
The car developed five horsepower via a single-cylinder steam engine. It could reach speeds well in excess of ten miles per hour. Gasoline-engines were first used in Harley Tarrant’s 1901 model. The Tarrant featured a Benz engine and generated six horsepower. In 1924, The Australian Automobile Association was formed.
Many Australian car manufactures have come and gone over the years.
Here is a quick stroll down memory lane:
* Australian Motor Industries: Active from 1958 to 1987. Manufactured Toyota, Mercedes-Benz, Rambler, Triumph and Standard automobiles.
* British Leyland: Active from 1954 to 1982. Manufactured the Leyland Mini and the P76, among others.
* Chrysler Australia: Active from 1951 to 1980. Manufactured the De Soto Diplomat, the Chrysler Royal, the Dodge Phoenix and the Plymouth Valiant.