||Technology in Australia 1788-1988
Table of Contents
I The First 100 Years 1788-1888
III Motorised Vehicles
ii Truck Manufacturing
iii Road Trains
iv The Diesel Electric Ore Trucks
v Buses and Coaches
V Modern Shipping
VI Innovative Small Craft
Motorised Vehicles (continued)
Large North American cars and higher priced European vehicles were less able to compete as the Japanese manufacturing cost base improved and increasing gasoline prices forced downsizing into the area where Japanese cars were already established.
In recent times, Japanese automobile manufacturers have become involved with the government car manufacturing plans and have established manufacturing and assembly facilities to meet mandatory local content requirements.
From a technical viewpoint, one of the major contributions resulting from Japanese automotive companies being involved in Australia has been adoption of some of the Japanese systems, particularly with respect to inventory management and quality control.
As a result of government local content requirements, significant design, engineering, manufacture and testing is undertaken in Australia even where the basic vehicle is derived from overseas products. Whereas the Holden was always a unique vehicle, and the Falcon evolved after several model changes to be a unique Australian vehicle, other companies such as Mitsubishi, chose to undertake major redesign of their Japanese counterpart by widening that car for Australian release as a Magna.
Technical contributions made by Australians in recent years include the variable ratio Bishop integral power steering gear, which was developed by Arthur E. Bishop of Sydney and manufactured under license by The Bendix Corporation, now James N. Kirby Products Pty. Ltd. This very elegant power steering mechanism is not only used widely in locally manufactured cars, but also the patents are used overseas.
Borg Warner has developed unique manual and automatic transmissions and rear axles for the automobile industry using a modular technique to cover the widest possible application. This evolutionary process of providing a range of products which are suitable for Australian motoring conditions has required unique design, testing and manufacturing capabilities.
In the field of vehicle suspension engineering, Australians have made a significant contribution. The requirement that motor cars, and for that matter trucks, be robust enough to survive poor roads, potholes of frightening size, corrugated surfaces and bush tracks, necessitated reinforcement and modification to springing systems for imported cars from early times. The preference of most Australian drivers for a firm suspension rather than the so called 'boulevard ride' common to products from U.S.A., made modifications a standard practice with such products.
In locally designed cars the emphasis on 'robustness' became an Australian specification. Test track 'bogies' are correspondingly high and it is traditional for new cars to be tested for long periods in the Australian outback to ensure suspension adequacy, dust-proofing and airconditioning capacity acceptable in what is a most demanding environment.
In response to the oil shock and the subsequent massive increases in fuel costs the attention of engineers at Ford Motor Company were directed to the extension of plastic applications for car components. These endeavours culminated in the use of plastic in bumper bars, instrument panels, self skinning crash panels and fuel tanks. These developments were undertaken in collaboration with U.S. and European plastic suppliers, but in the case of the large assymetrical fuel tank the Ford Australia and B.A.S.F. engineers overcame significant technical problems in adjusting the design, material and process to enable successful manufacture. The plastic fuel tank has been in production in Falcon vehicles since 1980 and is blow moulded using a unique formulation. It has proved very satisfactory in impact resistance, space utilisation and durability. Overseas motor car producers are increasingly using the ultra high density polypropolene fuel tank approach.
Organisations in Australian Science at Work - Borg Warner transmissions and rear axles; Ford Motor Company of Australia; N. Kirby Products Pty Ltd
People in Bright Sparcs - Bishop, Arthur E.
© 1988 Print Edition pages 495 - 496, Online Edition 2000
Published by Australian Science and Technology Heritage Centre, using the Web Academic Resource Publisher