Australian niche manufacturer, Tomcar, files for voluntary administration
Rezoom has been following Australian car manufacturer, Tomcar, for some time now. Its innovative approach to manufacturing and design has been heralded by many, from the CSIRO and its Kick-Start funding program to AusIndustry and its Innovation awards.
It’s been a heady ride, and for many an exceptionally safe one, given the global statistics on deaths and injuries caused by quad bikes and side-by-sides. The Tomcar was (and hopefully, still will be) the answer for a secure and cost effective vehicle to traverse farmland, mine sites and many other unforgiving types of terrain. They were even about to produce an all-electric version.
Sadly though the company has announced it is filing for voluntary administration, driven by ever increasing manufacturing costs, and worse still, by a group of hostile investors hell bent on taking over the company. The legal bills alone were prohibitive.
“We have had to close our doors because of a group of hostile investors tried to take over the company from us, while ever increasing manufacturing costs have put untold strain on the cash flow of the business,” CEO David Brim said to Manufacturers Monthly recently.
“We recently had an overseas investor about to come on board but at the last minute they backed out, leaving us with escalating legal fees and product costs, which simply pushed us over the edge.
“We want to thank everyone who supported our dream over the years and helped us along the way. It has been an incredible journey. We’ve tried our very best, but we couldn’t quite get there.”
It was a great try, and with luck, some common sense and a decent investor can help to turn it around.
Our long termer Land Rover has been toying with my affections
Built: Dec 2005
Price New: c.$75,000 inc options
Price 2011: $27,000
Price Now: Who knows
Odometer: 333,000 kms
Of all the things I appreciate about Australia, the NRMA Roadside Assistance would most definitely make my top 5. The organisation must surely be the standard that all service related industries should aspire to. All those bus drivers who seem to have forgotten that their role is to deal with the public in a friendly, come again attitude. All those surly telco billing staff who have no idea what it means to leave their customer hanging on the line for 20 minutes without a by your leave. All those government types who think that our taxes are their personal pools of funding. They can all take a leaf out this business’s book. From their sympathetic and obliging drivers, to their diligent call centre staff, even it’s mobile app is fantastic in that ‘how good is this UBER thingy’ type way. If there were to be a popularity contest surely they’d win, or at least get a ribbon for effort. It is right up there with the SES, in my opinion, even its towing partners. Yet, you are never pleased to have to call them because it always spells trouble. This time, for me, it meant a second alternator in 4 years.
Well the old girl is getting on, she’ll be 12 come December, which is 107 in car years, and is about to surpass 333,000 kilometres. Though she had a hard life for her first 6 years, and 227,000 k’s, it’s been arguably tougher for the last 6, albeit on the face of it, it would seem easier. No outback corrugated dirt roads, no bull dust, no bouncing around on rocks. But city driving, with the odd foray into the bush for camping trips, is probably putting more pressure on the suspension arms, CV joints and tyre wear than anything before. Though the engine itself has been consistently strong, all the add-on components are feeling the strain.
That said, AH20EF, still rides and drives as smooth as ever. All six of us parade around in as much comfort as we did before and, apart from that one time when the first alternator gave up the ghost, it has not let us down whilst on the road.
It’s safe to say I love this car. But it ain’t cheap. On average it costs us $4000 per year plus rego to keep it on the road. And I know more expensive issues are around the corner. The pumps and hoses that haven’t been replaced will need doing. The aircon system is playing up, intermittently coming on and off, yet still blowing deliciously cool air when it does. So the relay may need a change, but that means the dash needs to come out and I’ve no idea how long that could take. The air suspension compressor has probably got another year, 18 months at most, before it needs changing. The universal joint in the braking system is leaking meaning a new part of $1200 is imminent in the next few months. And if the soot around the turbo suggests anything then a new turbo is likely to be similarly priced.
But even with all this, the average cost per year, is less than a lease payment on a new car. If I had a garage and the equipment and the know-how I could save on labour. But realistically that is not going to happen. The wife won’t trust me, or my workmanship, for one.
Yet our Disco is soldiering on. Doing the school runs, the daily shopping trips, swallowing a range of differing sized bikes and scooters at weekends, short trips here, long trips there, start, stop, start, stop. It’s a harsh life and probably a mechanics dream.
It may have the odd scratch on the bumpers, the rear light cluster is still cracked from that time she-who-must-be-obeyed reversed into something, the leather thigh bolster on the driver’s seat is torn and then there’s that paint rub from that cheap bike rack I bought on the rear door. These things add character I tell myself. It’s been used I say to others. Then I spy a brand spanking new Disco 5 and I feel slightly ashamed of myself. I’m tempted. The excitement of something new is appealing. If it weren’t for the paucity of riches I’d almost feel like cheating.
If this is how the future looks, I’m all for it. This avant-garde concept has 750 horsepower on tap and, at more than 6 metres long, I am not entirely sure how or where you’d park it, but just look at it.