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Editions

Docklands car yet to roar

02 Jul 2009

Docklands car yet to roar Image

Docklands’ FR-1 concept car could receive State Government funding and be heading for World Expo in Shanghai next May.  China Expo organisers are expecting 71 million visitors to the Shanghai “Better City Better Life” Expo over five months.

At the show, project FR-1 will demonstrate Australia’s technical and innovative excellence in developing new light-weight, fuel efficient automotive technologies.

The car is being developed in Docklands by the AutoHorizon Foundation, the brainchild of former Fox Car Collection curator and past Docklands Chamber of Commerce president Brian Tanti.

The FR-1 is a retro-styled hotrod but is designed and constructed without the constraints of past standards or thinking.  In particular, the FR-1 will demonstrate a potential 43 per cent fuel saving through employing a lightweight chassis.

The FR-1 chassis will be carbon fibre and will weigh only 140 kg.  And it will be produced using less energy than traditional methods by utilising new techniques being developed by FR-1 project partner the Victorian Centre for Advanced Materials Manufacturing (VCAMM).

VCAMM technology transfer engineer Russell Gallagher and former Holden designer Jesse Diephuis are just two of the many volunteers who are bringing the car to life and to the world’s attention. Jesse created the car’s styling while Russell was responsible for the structural aspects.

Mr Diephuis has worked at the highest levels in Detroit and Japan but said the FR-1 project was a one-off in that it offered the full spectrum of car creation.

“You normally don’t get such a comprehensive view of the whole process.  Usually you get experts in design working over here and experts in engineering working in isolation over there,” he said.

Work has been done after hours at the Automotive Centre of Excellence where the Fox Collection has a workshop.

Mr Tanti estimates that so far the volunteers and contributing companies have donated more than $2.4 million in time, in-kind resources and cash to the project.

He said the project offered a number of benefits besides the technology transfer and opportunity to showcase Australian automotive excellence as the car, when completed, will be auctioned to support four charities.

“And the technical fallout from the project then supports education, so it’s a fairly holistic approach,” he said.

The foundation’s next project is to be a high-speed electric car.  As with FR-1, project two will augment the State and Federal Governments’ Australian innovation platform, while further promoting Docklands around the globe as a hub for community-based, green innovation initiatives.

Organisations like the AutoHorizon Foundation, with a local and global focus, add to the rich tapestry of community in Docklands.

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