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Wednesday, 13 August 2003
Page: 18507


Mr Murphy asked the Minister for the Environment and Heritage, upon notice, on 26 June 2003:

(1) What has been the outcome of the trial of the hybrid ECOmmodore which was constructed as a joint industry-government project by the CSIRO and General Motors Holden in 2000.

(2) What was the total cost of this project and what was the total contributed by the Commonwealth.

(3) Is it the case that the ECOmmodore uses 50% less fuel than a conventional vehicle of the same size and produces the same performance as a standard 3.8 litre V6 from a four-cylinder motor.

(4) Is the Minister able to say how much the demand for petroleum fuels would be reduced if the Government encouraged or required vehicle manufacturers to produce fuel-efficient vehicles like the ECOmmodore; if not, why not.

(5) Has he seen a report by the CSIRO titled Energy Outlook to 2020, which indicates that there are no plans to produce vehicles of this type in Australia.

(6) Does the Government support the production of vehicles of this type in Australia; if so, why; if not, why not.

(7) Is the Minister able to say when Australian production of vehicles with hybrid petrol-electric motors will begin.


Dr Kemp (Minister for the Environment and Heritage) —The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1) The ECOmmodore was a `learning platform' to give scientists and engineers the opportunity to explore new and innovative technologies such as power-train strategies, control systems and energy storage systems. These technologies may be relevant to future hybrid vehicles.

(2) I understand that the total contribution by the CSIRO to the ECOmmodore project was approx-imately $900,000. I do not know the Holden contribution.

(3) One of the design targets, based on engineering modelling, was for a vehicle that used 50% less fuel when compared to a standard 3.8 litre V6 Commodore. Actual fuel consumption figures vary considerably, and are drive cycle dependant.

(4) No, because of the many inter-related factors involved. These include the percentage of the current car fleet replaced by such a vehicle, the timescale over which this would occur, the make-up of the entire current vehicle fleet, and the annual usage for the various vehicle types.

(5) The Government is aware of the CSIRO Energy and Transport Sector - Outlook to 2020 report. It is publicly available on the web at: http://www.dpr.csiro.au/sector/E&T%20Outlook%202020.pdf

(6) The Government supports the production of vehicles that incorporate modern fuel-saving technologies. The Government's Automotive Competitiveness and Investment Scheme (ACIS) is directed towards encouraging new investment and innovation in the automotive industry. A new feature of this scheme will be a $150 million R&D fund specifically for vehicle manufacturers investing new and innovative technologies. The decision to produce hybrid vehicles in Australia is a commercial decision for vehicle manufacturers.

(7) No. The Government is unable to pre-empt the decisions made by commercial vehicle manufacturers regarding the Australian production of such cars.