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Taxpayer-funded: Toyota will use its ACIS money to develop TRD models.

Australia's four car-makers to put taxpayer-funded ACIS money to a variety of uses

31 May 2006

TOYOTA and Mitsubishi are working on boosting the prospects of their Australian-built large cars through high-performance versions, courtesy of the Automotive Competitiveness and Investment Scheme (ACIS).

Toyota received $5.15 million and Mitsubishi $1.1 million from the Federal Government’s ACIS program for specific high-end research on their performance models.

Ford and Holden received the bulk of ACIS funds announced last week to spend on bigger-picture programs.

Ford’s $47 million will help develop its next-generation core models and a diesel Territory, while the $48.3 million allocated to Holden will help develop hybrids and a range of other fuel-saving measures.

Toyota and Mitsubishi, on the other hand, will direct their funds into performance cars.

For Toyota, the $5.15 million will go directly into its Toyota Racing Development (TRD) franchise which the company confirmed this week would be led by TRD-branded Aurion and HiLux models.

Two other models, one of which is understood to be a Corolla, are expected to be announced later this year.

TRD corporate manager Greg Gardner told GoAuto this week that the ACIS funds were a small part of the total cost of Toyota’s work on its TRD program.

At Mitsubishi, the $1.1 million will go into a "powertrain optimisation project", which spokesman Kevin Taylor confirmed this week was for delivering more power from its V6 engine, as well as reducing emissions via Euro IV compliance.

Mr Taylor said a 380 concept car featuring these improvements would be shown at the Australian International Motor Show in Sydney in October.

However, he said the company was still unsure whether the production version of the concept would be built under the Ralliart banner or simply be a higher-output version of the current VR-X.

"To be called a Ralliart it needs to have a certain percentage increase in power over a base car," he said. "If they get a reasonable increase it will be able to wear a Ralliart badge. If not it will be a VR-X."Ford Australia spokesperson Sinead McAlary confirmed that part of the $47 million allocated to the company would be channelled into its development work on a diesel engine for the Territory 4WD. However, she said it would not hasten the arrival of such a model variant.

"It allows us to do more engineering work to see if an alternative fuel technology vehicle would be viable," she said.

Ford is known to be testing a Land Rover-sourced 2.7-litre turbo-diesel, along with other engines from affiliate brands.

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