Australian car manufacturers gained prominence mostly for their ability to create a quality car almost from nothing. They especially succeeded in building fair-sized passenger cars in large quantities.
It all started about 120 years ago when the first steam car came out in Australia in 1896. It was produced by Herbert Thomson in Melbourne and used the first Australian made Dunlop pneumatic tires. 5 years later Harley Tarrant introduced the first petrol engine motor car made wholly from Australian parts. Particularly, the isolated position of the country turned to be an advantage at the start as they occupied the domestic market without external rivals.
But later on foreign car makers such as Ford, General Motors, Chrysler, Toyota and others enthralled the Australian auto market and plenty of plants have been established. Such new-born Australian car companies as Holden, Ford Australia, Toyota Australia, Mitsubishi Motors Australia prospered in the country and reached the peak of production of 475,000 vehicles in the 1970-s. But by 2009 this figure fell by one half. In the last few years the automotive industry is in decline.
Major Australian Car Manufacturers
Customers’ preferences have changed a lot. If previously Australian car makers got benefit from restrictions on imported vehicles, recently the import duties have been reduced to a minimum.
The market now abounds in Asian and European cars and the most of Australian car manufacturers have already stopped or will have to stop production in the nearest future. Nevertheless, there are 3 Australian car brands which are still active today:
GM Holden Ltd is an Australian car manufacturer owned and controlled by American General Motors. Founded in 1856, the company initially had a saddlery production but then changed its activity for car building and became a subsidiary of the giant American company in 1931.
Holden reached the pinnacle of their career in the 1950-s as they held the dominating position in the Australian market supplying the increased post-war demand for cars. The brand new “ute” established itself as the most popular car of the time suitable for Australian harsh roads.
Holden also has an official partner – Holden Special Vehicles – which converts Holden’s marques such as Commodore, Caprice and Ute into performance cars under the HSV brand.
Still, over the last few years the company suffered significant downturn and is to cease production by 2017.
Ford Australia is perhaps one of the most widespread car brands in Australia. It was established in Geelong, Victoria, in 1925 as the associated company of American giants Ford Motor Company.
Ford Australia is the only manufacturer on the continent that uses their own-produced high-volume engines. The most renowned model made by the company is Falcon which established itself as the calling card of Ford Australia. Initially an American car, it was adapted to Australian rugged roads in 1960 and in 1972 it got entirely Australian design. Ford Australia has a performance vehicle partner in Melbourne which develops Ford’s sports versions under the FPV brand.
In May 2013 Ford Motor Company announced they will cease manufacturing in Australia by 2016 due to substantial financial losses.
Toyota Motor Corporation Australia was founded in 1958 as a subsidiary of Japan-based Toyota Motor Corporation. It became the assembler of Toyota vehicles in the region with the production plant in Port Melbourne. In 1978 the new Toyota’s plant which produced engines and gearboxes was built in Altona, Victoria, and the company has made good progress since then. By 1992 Toyota Australia manufactured 1 million cars and made another million during the following decade. The company showed great achievement in export sales recording 500 thousand vehicles in 2006. It worth saying that in mid 2000-s Toyota Australia established itself as the best-selling car brand of the continent having superseded Holden with more than 200 thousand new cars annually. But despite all this, the manufacturer announced their shutdown in 2017 due to economic hardships.
The Australian car brands listed above are not in full. There are also minor current manufacturers producing good cars: Bolwell, Daytona, Elfin Sports Cars, Nota, JOSS and others.