The Australian aXcess concept cars originated from an idea developed by the Melbourne-based automotive designer Gary Millard in the early 1990s to produce a one-off custom made motor car that would showcase the skills and innovative design of Australia's automotive components industry to the world's major automotive manufacturers. Co-ordinated by the Melbourne-based company, Axcess Australia, the project was a joint initiative of the Australian Federal Department of Industry, Science & Tourism, Market Australia, the Energy Research & Development Corporation, CSIRO and the State Governments of Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland and South Australia together with in-kind support from 130 independent Australian automotive component manufacturers and designers.

Development of the two cars represents a significant innovation story incorporating both dozens of examples of state-of-the-art Australian automotive technology and a world-first in automotive marketing in which one-off cars were developed neither as prototypes for possible future production cars or concept cars designed to developed ideas from a single manufacturer. Instead both vehicles were intended specifically to showcase the products of Australian component manufacturers to best advantage in the highly competitive international automotive manufacturing industry. They were to incorporate environmentally sustainable materials and low-emission technology.

This is the first aXcess Australia car powered by a 2.0 litre super-charged two-stroke in-line six-cylinder Orbital petrol engine and programmable 'intelligent' four-speed automatic transmission or alternate "Touchtronic" manual control. Following its launch at Parliament House, Canberra, on 9 February 1998, the car was taken direct to the Society of Automotive Engineer's International Congress and Exposition in Detroit where is created an overnight international sensation. Following this the car returned to Melbourne for the International Motor Show and Australian Grand Prix in March 1998, before embarking on an extensive overseas promotional tour that saw it visit 28 destinations in 11 countries, including the United States, Germany, France, Italy, United Kingdom, Japan, Korea, India, Malaysia & Singapore. Over a five year period, publicity generated by the aXcess Car was claimed to have generated Aus$1.25 billion in export orders for Australian automotive component manufacturers involved in the project. It was featured again at the Australian Formula One Grand Prix in Melbourne in March 1999 when it completed laps of the circuit before the race and was displayed to the public.

The futuristic looking car with its distinctive metallic red colour, curved lines and bubble-shaped roof created enormous interest, particularly amongst younger motorists and in the process became something of an Australian design icon. The car was featured in the exhibition Innovative Australians and was displayed at Scienceworks for six months during 2001 as part of this exhibition. Amongst the innovative Australian technologies featured in the car are an advanced Australian-designed orbital engine, sequentially interlocking electrically-operated clam-shell passenger doors with electronic & optical controls, a lightweight Henrod riveted steel chassis, carbon-fibre frame and body panels, in-built solar roof panels, magnesium frame, airbags, Autoliv bucket seats for improved passenger comfort, a programmable "intelligent" four-speed automatic transmission, fluid-coupled limited slip differential, a unique VDO slimline steering column mounted instrument console and advanced voice-activated electronics including automated road hazard warning and satellite navigation systems.

Along with the later aXcess Hybrid Low Emission Vehicle, this car was donated to Museum Victoria by aXcess Australia in 2003.


The aXcess concept cars represent one of the most significant developments of the Australian automotive industry in the late 20th century and a highly successful government and industry collaboration intended to showcase innovative Australian automotive design and generate export income for Australia's diverse automotive components industry.

Designed and built in Melbourne by Millard Design International, the first Axcess Concept car was launched on 9 February 1998 at Parliament House, Canberra and subsequently embarked on an extensive overseas promotional tour visiting motor shows, trade shows and manufacturers throughout North America, Europe and South East Asia. The initiative was credited with helping to generate Aus$1.25 billion in export orders for Australian automotive component manufacturers.

The second Axcess concept car was designed and built by Radial Pacific, of Huntingdale, Victoria, with a major input of state-of-the art hybrid petrol-electric low emission technology developed by CSIRO's Automotive Division. After its launch on 1 June 2000, the innovative vehicle toured countries in Asia and Europe with an additional Aus$500 million in export income being attributed to the publicity it generated of partner companies.

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