Does Local Flavour Make Australia’s New Cars More Attractive?

Does Local Flavour Make Australia’s New Cars More Attractive?

In France it’s called Terroir. In other parts it’s called locally sourced flavour. In the Australian new-car market, buyers are calling for more of it.  

Australia’s new-vehicle development community is busy.

Oz might not be a big-scale new-car assembler these days, but there are many skilled Australians behind large sections of the new cars we buy and drive today. Their work spans a big spectrum: from large-scale engineering programs for all-new vehicles, through to local OEM tuning and enhancement programs.

We do all three for different major carmakers. It’s given us some rare insights into the effects they have with buyers and brands.

Australian new-vehicle buyers are spoilt for choice. The Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries says there are more than 60 brands officially sold here, offering some 380 new-vehicle models.

That’s a lot for a market that sells just over 1 million new vehicles a year.

Despite this vast selection, one thing has emerged with many local buyers: they like local input in their new cars.

You’ll find this local input in some new vehicles cars but not others. And it takes different forms.

Suspension tuning is a good example. A couple of popular new-car brands have reportedly been tuning the suspension and steering in their Australian-market models before they’re released for local sale. It’s understood they’ve been doing this here for some years.

Then there are the longer-lead engineering programs run in Australia.

Numerous popular models on sale today are rich in local design and technical know-how. This includes everything from exterior styling programs in local design studios right through to suspension development, and even wheel/trye packages to cope with our roads. This kind of work is done years before a vehicle’s local release.

And then there are local enhancement programs.

These involve secondary vehicle manufacturing, where a complete or near-complete new car is shipped from a carmaker’s overseas factory to an Australian facility for finishing. Here, technical changes are made. Locally developed market-specific equipment is fitted.

This isn’t the same as sending a car to an aftermarket workshop to have some accessories bolted on; secondary vehicle manufacturing involves modifying or adding elements to a new vehicle to create an alternate version of that vehicle. It usually involves extensive local OEM engineering programs and product development. But it’s worth it; it can turn a great new car into one that more closely meets the needs of local buyers. And that gives the selling brand a big product-based sales advantage.

Consideration – as in considering local consumer needs – is one of the drivers behind the buyer attraction for these locally enhanced products.

Brands that add locally developed product input, tuning and content to the cars they sell in Australia are regarded by many buyers as “listening to them”.

So the message is clear to Australia’s official new-vehicle importers: if you consider what local buyers want, and take steps to meet these wants in at least part of your new-vehicle range, you can improve your chances of attracting them.

The sales scoreboard proves it.

Local OEM enhancement programs are worth investigating and adding to your product planning. Locally developed and enhanced new vehicles sell.

Media outlets praise them.

Many local new-car buyers welcome them.

Because they like being “heard” and having the option to choose a new vehicle that suits our conditions and their tastes.

If our experience is anything to go by, the conclusion is simple: build them (what they want), and they will come (and buy them).

Bernie Quinn – Engineering Director, Premcar Pty Ltd


About Premcar – Premcar Pty Ltd is a leading Australian vehicle engineering business that specialises in the automotive, defence and aerospace industries. For more than 25 years, global car-makers have made Premcar their go-to partner for the complete design, engineering and manufacture of niche-model new cars, full-scale new-vehicle development programs, and electric vehicle (EV) conversions and manufacturing. As the name behind more than 200,000 new cars and 55,000 new-vehicle engines, Premcar’s body of work is extensive and has delivered technical and sales success for major car brands from Europe, the USA, Japan, China and Australia. Visit


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