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. 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 of a single manufacturer. Instead both vehicles were intended specifically to showcase the products of over 100 independent 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 second aXcess concept car, designed and assembled by Radial Pacific, of Huntingdale, Victoria, with a major input from the CSIRO's Automotive Division, which developed and built the state-of-the-art hybrid petrol-electric low emission power train. The low emission vehicle was developed in just 12 months with $12 million funding from the CSIRO, Federal Department of Industry, Science & Resources and the Victorian Department of State & Regional Development together with in-kind support from 102 Australian component suppliers, in a similar collaboration to the first aXcess car. The innovative vehicle was launched in Melbourne to the international media on 1 June 2000, under the slogan "a cool change", and subsequently toured countries in Asia and Europe over the next 18 months with the support of a $400,000 grant from the Victorian government. Although originally scheduled to visit 58 destinations in 11 countries with an expectation that it would generate AUS$ 1 billion in export income, the withdrawal of promotional funding saw the North American leg of the tour cancelled. Despite this disappointment, the second aXcess vehicle was still attributed with helping to secure an additional Aus$500 million in export income for participating Australian component suppliers.

The vehicle is a four-wheeled, front-wheel-drive four-door hatchback series hybrid-electric low emission vehicle (LEV) with rear-mounted 1.4 litre 3,000 r.p.m. CMC Sytech Scotch-Yoke 4-cylinder horizontally-opposed fuel-injected petrol engine driving a direct-coupled electric generator operated by a CSIRO-developed 100 kW peak power output computerised intelligent power management system controlling power flow between the electric generator, 60-volt lead-acid gel storage batteries, peak loading super capacitors and the switch-reluctance water-cooled electric traction motor with regenerative braking. Other advanced features included global positioning system (GPS) navigation, automatic lights and windscreen wiper functions and state-of-the-art entertainment equipment.

The Axcess Low Emission Vehicle won an Australian Design Award in 2001 for Engineering Excellence, with the judges' citation highlighting "the unique Australian approach …. reflected in the innovative solutions to some of the technical and economic problems encountered in hybrids, including the use of low cost, conventional batteries in conjunction with a capacitor array in place of expensive metal hydride batteries, the extended range available for electric operation and the novel low profile engine design."

Along with the original 1998 aXcess Australia car, the Hybrid LEV was donated to Museum Victoria 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.

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.

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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