Aussie car manufacturing – time to get a Brazilian!

Call me a wanker, but I drive an Audi TT.

But, since Wilson Everard advertises the FPV range of locally-cobbled hot rods, and the Audi was leaking something oily and nasty, I grabbed a loaner GT E from our client last weekend.

I loved it – the power of the supercharged five-litre V8 was way beyond anything I’d previously driven. The wife and kids loved it – far more room than the overpriced US-built Merc 4WD that is their daily driver. And the noise that supercharged V8 makes when you back off the throttle – pop, bang, boom – I’m no Boy Racer but it certainly gets your attention.

For me the stumbling block is not the car but the badge.

After years of aspiring to sexy Euro-metal can I actually drive a local?

And even though FPV GTs are going so well there’s a wait list, the rest of the local industry isn’t going so well if you read the daily drivel. Ford, GM and Toyota are hanging on by their fingernails, but can we live without local manufacturing?

Will Australia be just a quarry with great weather and nice beaches?

Bugger that!

Given that manufacturing in Australia employs four times as many people than the mining industry, I don’t think we can.

The Government’s New Car Plan announced in 2008 resulted in investment of upwards of $2 billion in its first two years, but thanks to the Queensland floods and the strength of the dollar it’s come to a screaming halt.

We need to do something to protect our car manufacturing capacity. But what?

It’s not so hard, just look at what Brazil is doing.

Like us, the Brazilians have a strong commodities export business that has driven its currency, the real, through the roof.

Their government already has a 35% tariff on imported cars (ours is a pathetic 3.5%), and they’ve decided to whack an Industrial Products Tariff on top, ranging from 25 to 35% depending on the real’s exchange rate.

Wow – try buying a new Audi TT in Rio – oh mi oh mioh!

But the fact is they are protecting their manufacturing base during what may be an extended period of cheap imports.

Brazilians won’t be doing the samba down to the BMW, Merc or Audi dealerships but they will still have jobs and income and their country will have a manufacturing base, lower welfare and less social dislocation.

And stop whining about giving the auto industry assistance. If we don’t, can you imagine what we’re going to do with almost 70,000 highly-skilled people looking for new jobs while on the dole and paying no tax?

This is what assistance to the car industry means.

Let’s get cracking with a tariff right now.

And let’s lead the way with how Government departments – federal, state and local – choose their cars. Let’s be like the French. If you’re not driving a Citröen, Renault or Peugeot, you’re not working for the French Government.

Three choices: made here, made here or made here.

And you can shove hybrids up your exhaust pipe – they produce more carbon to make than they could save if they lasted a thousand years and they won’t!

Jeez, I feel better now that’s all off my chest.

How will I look in the FPV GT E?

Like a bloody patriot mate!


Nick Hickford
BY Nick Hickford ON 31 October 2012
Nick Hickford, Wilson Everard CEO, has spent the last 10 years running agencies after 15 years client side in FMCG marketing roles across Sanitarium, National Foods, Berri and Energizer. In 2011 Nick joined Wilson Everard from The Bridge, one of Melbourne’s original strategic planning agencies, bringing his strategic experience to partner to the creative strengths of Wilson and Everard. Nick can be contacted via or +61 3 98675100.