Because we’re a carmaker doesn’t mean we only make new cars. In fact, it opened the door to our first aerospace project: to develop a prototype helicopter.
My recent LinkedIn post about Australia’s carmaking talent sparked a bit of a reaction. And all those messages in my inbox got me thinking, mostly about the depth of our local carmaking talent and what it can really achieve when it’s given a serious challenge.
So I’ll share an example of what it can do.
Some years ago a large and well-known global manufacturing company (not an automotive firm) approached us with a proposal, one we weren’t expecting.
They asked if we could design and build for them a prototype helicopter.
I still remember the moment when they hit us with their request. After quickly confirming that we gladly accepted it and proposed some first steps, I had a simple question:
“Why are you asking us to build it?”
I wish I could recite their reply word-for-word. This customer’s project leaders were visionaries. Yes, they talked about our company’s record and how it had everything they were after. But they also spoke about the Australian automotive industry and how it was special in the global carmaking ecosystem.
They detailed how Australia was unique, thanks to its long-standing history of developing built-for-purpose cars and machines for a specific market with unique needs, and how – despite having access to design and engineering resources from overseas head offices – Australia’s own carmaking industry had fully evolved alongside its much larger parent companies.
The result was our market had a special skillset.
It meant we could create world-class products, all because Australia’s automakers didn’t succumb to letting their global parent companies do all the work for them.
They’d done their research. It was a view I’d never heard from an industry outsider.
This client wanted to push into new areas of advanced technologies with their helicopter project. They also wanted to embark on a new way of doing things, hence their search for a technical partner that didn’t “always do it this way.” Yes, they needed the rigour and quality necessary in the aero industry, but at the same time they wanted us to apply the best of what we knew from vehicle development. And it all had to be a 10/10 result.
So, what did we create? I can’t show you but, in short, it was a stunning five-seat helicopter with the latest in drive technology, carbon fibre construction, entirely new control systems, and more. I can’t list it all here. But suffice to say it was an Everest-level achievement for the Premcar team.
It was the kind of project that brought forth the best everyone had to offer, and everyone wanted to give their Australian-carmaking best.
It produced a remarkable machine (both in looks and performance), the kind you’d expect to find in Lockheed-Martin’s famed aircraft Skunkworks in Burbank, California.
But it was designed, developed and made in Melbourne and Sydney, Australia – with Australian carmaking know-how, the kind worth preserving (and growing) for generations to come.
Imagine letting all that experience and skill quietly drift away.
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 premcar.com.
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