We decided to let our business editor indulge his childhood fantasies and take a V8 Commodore — the last car to be manufactured in Australia? — for a spin. Talk about kid in a candy store …
“It is stupidly fast, the gear-shift short, the steering precise, and it sits effortlessly flat through bends at speeds way over the advisory limit. The Redline’s 6L V8 motor — made in Mexico by GM — was prodigious. I can’t speak for the other luxury makes, but this is an awesome car — the best I’ve ever driven …”
But then Paddy Manning had to fuel this beast up:
“After some 402 kilometres of city and highway driving, however, my first tank takes 61.7 litres costing $102.40, and I’ve got a bit over 15L/100km. Fun, but clearly ridiculous in an age of inexorably rising petrol prices and worsening climate change. The clincher: at $51,490 recommended retail price, on a modest journo’s wage, I could never buy one.”
Can Australians afford this car? At the pump, or out of their taxes in government support?
We’ve long argued taxpayers shouldn’t have to prop up manufacturers rejected by consumers. But Manning makes an alternate case: the subsidies are cheap in comparison, and the real waste would be in letting Holden leave …
“Are we so committed to yanking subsidies to the car industry that we are prepared to outlay more money in foregone income tax revenue and welfare benefits and subsidies like payroll tax concessions for other industries that will be needed to prop up the economy, especially in South Australia? Is it rational to spend more money destroying an industry than it would cost to save it?”
We’re a broad church. With at least one rev-head.