18.03.14 - Herald Sun: Off-road vehicle maker Tomcar Australia shows real drive
"It's still too early to sign the death certificate for the nation's car manufacturing sector, says Australian entrepreneur David Brim.
But for Mr Brim, the co-founder of off-road vehicle maker Tomcar, the business model has more to do with Apple than Ford.The Tomcar was originally designed by the Israeli military to fit into a plane or helicopter and survive being dropped into battle.
Mr Brim bought the designs and adapted them to Australian conditions, building what he says is the safest and toughest all-terrain vehicle ever made.
Think Willys Jeep meets Baja racer. The company has pre-sold 100 vehicles and aims to sell 5000 within the next three to four years.
Target customers include those in the defence, mining, agricultural, tourism, emergency service and recreational sectors.
Mr Brim thinks of Tomcar as a tech start-up and his business might just point to the future of manufacturing in Australia - smaller and more nimble, delivering high-quality, unique and innovative products. Tomcar builds its vehicles in the Melbourne suburb of Oakleigh South.
It has eliminated the dealer network and sells direct to customers, building cars on request following a "pull" rather than "push" model. The business outsources the manufacturing, with access to a supply chain in Australia that London-born Mr Brim says is world's best.
"We think of ourselves as a tech start-up," he told BusinessDaily. "We've taken the auto-industry and flipped it around. We very quickly saw that Australia has some incredible component manufacturers. They have the skills, the equipment and the tooling.
"Why should we spend $5 million on tooling when it is already here?"
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