Walkinshaw Automotive Group, of HSV (Holden Special Vehicles) fame, has introduced a 24 hour conversion line for its range of Ram utes. These vehicles are imported as left-hand drive vehicles from America, before being ‘re-manufactured’ to right-hand drive in Melbourne. Walkinshaw’s operation has factory backing and is perhaps the closest thing to an official factory RHD vehicle imported straight from the US.
Joshua Dowling from CarAdvice reports further:
“While it’s not the same as the mass production lines that built Fords, Holdens and Toyotas that fell silent two years ago – which could each pump out in excess of 100,000 vehicles annually – the facility in Clayton, south east of Melbourne, will push out close to 7000 vehicles this year and is reviving jobs in a sector most had written off.
Having just produced its 1500th right-hand-drive Ram locally, the company expects it will sell close to 3000 pick-ups this year, the largest share of the estimated 7000 vehicles across three brands that will come out of the same Clayton facility.
“Having been to Detroit and seeing how they build these actually gave us the idea to do this as efficiently as possible,” says Di Berardino. “We reverse what they do but fit more than 290 unique parts, using a lot of suppliers that previously made parts for Holden, Toyota and Ford. They know how to make parts to full manufacturing quality standards, so it was good to be able to bring them with us on this.”
Clearly this operation is nowhere near the same scale as domestic production by the Big Three, and is converting left-hand-drive vehicles rather than building them from scratch. Nevertheless, it’s good to hear that there is still some sort of automotive manufacturing continuing in Australia.