Firepower, major sports sponsor, recipient of federal government export grants and purveyor of magic petrol pills and diesel potions, is holding a media briefing this morning. Unfortunately it’s right on Crikey’s deadline, but we’ll see what they have to say.

In the meantime, a wise and loyal subscriber provides this useful link to gadgets website, Dan’s Data. Half way down the page Dan does a nice job answering a reader’s letter about Firepower and linking in turn to Tony’s Guide to Fuel Saving Gadgets – a revhead’s more technical guide to various scams, falsehoods and economies-of-truth.

Dan and Tony both know a lot more about the science of the internal combustion engine than I do, but what emerges is an opinion that Firepower is only the latest in a long line of outfits that claim to do incredible things to improve fuel economy but never prove it. Gee, I wonder why…

The Dan’s Data letter came from a fella whose father had invested in Firepower. He “has been told that the Federal government is apparently interested in using their products”.

And that sounds suspiciously like the sort of claim a salesman flogging shares in an unlikely fuel gizmo outfit might make.

Firepower makes many strange claims though. Its science-lite website could give the impression its sponsorship of a V8 Supercar team would somehow involves a technical relationship with Holden:

Tasman Motorsport is considered Holden’s rising star and is supported by General Motors Holden accordingly. Firepower is pleased to be working with a partner of this calibre.

The relationship also includes a research and development plan which will see Firepower continue its rigorous testing and technical development of products in a high performance environment.

Er, no. In fact, Holden has demanded that no claim of a technical relationship with it be made because there isn’t any. So it goes. In the general scheme of Firepower’s many claims, it is small beer.

So, off to the media briefing which is to be conducted by Firepower CEO John Finnin. As Gerard Ryle reports in today’s SMH, Finnin worked at Austrade until last June. Back in September 2003 when he met the owners of a Jordanian trucking firm called Alia, he was Austrade’s director for Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

Firepower seems to have a good knowledge of the Austrade ropes. According to a Ryle piece yesterday, it has obtained nearly $400,000 in export grants from the Federal Government through Austrade.

Late breaking news: Just out of a most bemusing Firepower media conference, I can report CEO John Finnin doesn’t know who invented the magic potions, won’t or can’t name any UK investment banks they’re allegedly talking to, or any of the claimed major Australian customers using it, or the brokers selling Firepower’s unlisted shares.

He does say South Sydney rugby league club co-owner Peter Holmes a Court is “very enthused about our product” but Holmes a Court is not a shareholder.

Finnin claims the incredible pills give him about an extra twenty per cent fuel economy in his Maserati Quattroporte – which he said isn’t a company car.

The secret ingredients of the Firepower pill are two precious to risk patenting – but the company gets them knocked up by a subcontractor in New Zealand. Funnily enough, the literally incredible formula cannot be reverse-engineered, says Finnin.

There’s also a mystery about boss Tim Johnstone’s involvement with colourful Perth millionaire Warren Anderson but the biggest surprise of all is that Finnin claims Shell, Volvo and TUV have all tested Firepower products and he will make the results public next week. We await with interest but without holding any breath.

Peter Fray

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