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Car makers rev up

Introducing a concept . . . Mark Reuss with the Coupe 60 at the Melbourne Motor Show.

Mark Reuss, chairman of Holden, this month took over as chairman of the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries and wants the Federal Government to know the industry's importance.

Not a fan of recent government moves — including the unexpected luxury car tax increase and the even bigger surprise in the form of an early financial gift to Toyota's Camry Hybrid project — he wants Australia to remain an attractive destination for international investment.

“Look around the world and you will see governments competing to establish an automotive manufacturing base in their countries,” Reuss said. “To those countries that don't have one, the benefits are obvious. To countries that already have an automotive manufacturing industry like Australia, the message is equally clear: If you lose it, you are unlikely to ever get it back.

“Australia has a huge level of `intellectual capital', that is the skills we have as engineers, manufacturers, designers and innovators. This is something we nurture and can export.”

Reuss said Holden spent $420 million in research and development in 2007. That made Holden Australia's biggest private sector R&D investor.

“The local car industry produces more than $27 billion a year of economic activity; it's a major employer; and it generates significant tax revenue,” he said.

“We want an environment that ensures Australia remains an attractive destination for global investment.

“If the global playing field is level, we will do the rest.”