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PHOTO CAPTION: Volvo C30 is plug-in hybrid concept that utilizes electric wheel motors.

Australian Gov't Handout to Auto Industry Fuels Destructive Course

The real problem we face - and in the US it's far worse, with car makers bleeding money - is that the car is unviable and has been for a long time, contends Larry Buttrose.

Published: 13-Nov-2008

THE Australian federal Government's $6.2billion Car Industry Rescue Package is a lifeline to industry and our skilled workforce, but given that for years governments have tossed good money after bad into the automotive money pit, taxpayers will want results. Positive aspects include more than doubling the Green Car Fund, and the $3.4billion Automotive Transformation Scheme, which one can only hope will do just that in the next decade.

The real problem we face - and in the US it's far worse, with car makers bleeding money - is that the car is unviable and has been for a long time. We have all known the need for change since the first oil shock of 1973, but almost nothing was done about it. We know oil is a finite resource - we may already have hit "Peak Oil" - just as we have long known that the petrol-driven car contributes to global warming. As such, it is a double-whammy evildoer: polluting the skies while guzzling a scarce resource, and that's not to mention its daily toll of death and mayhem.

But nothing has changed. In November last year, Elizabeth Kolbert wrote in the New Yorker that after assuming the presidency in 1993, Bill Clinton approached GM, Ford and Chrysler to redesign the car, to make it environmentally sounder, and "safe, comfortable and recyclable".

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