History of Australian Car Manufacturing

Being more or less isolated from the Western world, Australia had nobody to rely on but itself to manufacture its cars from scratch. It’s a testimony to Australian innovation and workmanship that by 1896, the first steam car, the Phaeton, had been built. By 1901, Harley Tarrant designed and built the first petrol-powered car.

When Ford Motors set up shop in Australia, it was the beginning of a new era, fraught with overseas competition and global designs. However, it was Holden Motors, a national company, which gradually became the leading car manufacturers in the country.

Despite the onset of the Great Depression during the 1930s, and Holden’s subsequent collapse and later merger with General Motors, the nation’s car manufacturing industry went from stride to stride post-WWII. Australia’s car manufacturing industry has long specialized in producing family sedans, built for comfort, not speed.

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Recent economic exigencies and changing consumer preferences have led to a steady decline in Australia’s car manufacturing avenue. GM Holden still perseveres, as does Ford, but some major companies have either left the Australian market, or plan to do so in the coming years. Australia’s consumers now prefer cars imported from Asia and Europe. However, due to its significant tradition of building and designing cars on its own, without overseas involvement, Australia’s automotive industry still holds enormous prestige value.

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