Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbot's fleet of high-security Holden limos is expected to be replaced with bomb and gas proof BMWs after Government sources claimed Holden had failed to bid for a lucrative $4 million plus contract to replace the ageing convoy of armored cars.
A further armada of 20 German-built cars will need to be leased for the G20 Summit in Brisbane next year - at a cost of $2 million - with foreign leaders prevented from using the Holden Caprice as it didn't meet their standards to protect against terrorist attacks.
Government sources claimed that Holden had not submitted a bid for a new construction contract to replace the existing eight-year-old fleet of nine armor-plated Caprices - including the PM's own car "C1".
The Daily Telegraph understands that only four bids were entered, including Audi and Mercedes.
The only options of a semi-local built car was believed to be a newer version of the retrofitted Holden Caprice offered by British Aerospace at a cost of $800,000 each, or a "ground up" model based on a Holden chassis, which cost $1.2 million for just one vehicle.
However, neither option is believed to have been able to meet international standards for protection against attacks.
The Federal Government is now expected to sign a contract to buy cheaper, off-the shelf BMW High Security 7 Series vehicles, at a cost of $525,000 each, which meet higher international standards of protection against ballistic and gas attacks - and which can be serviced in Australia.
It has an existing contract through the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade with BMW for high security cars. The BMW option would save the government more than $3 million. They would also be available for the 20 strong fleet of security cars required for the G20, saving the Government a further $1 million.
Holden denied it had declined to bid for the tender, claiming it had partnered with the two after market companies in bids to supply armoured plated cars. "We have partnered with two bids from armoured plated companies," a spokesman for Holden said.
"Holden is involved in two bids for this work and we would love to see the PM in a Caprice, and we have obviously provided caprice for this purpose before."
But departmental sources disputed the claim and said Holden had "shown no interest" when made aware the tender was being let.
The imminent loss of Holden as the PM's official car was revealed as the Detroit-based car giant came under pressure to reveal whether it planned to close its operations in Australia by 2016.
Thousands of Holden workers have been left hanging over Christmas to find out whether they would still have a job. Holden boss Mike Devereux has refused to confirm whether the company would continue to make cars in Australia.
Labor has accused the government of trying to kill the Australian car industry by cutting assistance by $500 million and has urged the Government to restore assistance to Holden to protect thousands of jobs. But Acting Prime Minister Warren Truss yesterday wrote to the company requesting that it reveal its intentions, reminding it that the Government had already committed a further $1 billion to the industry until 2020.
"An immediate clarification of GM Holden's future plans is needed to end the uncertainty for Holden's workforce, its suppliers and the people of Australia," Mr Truss said.
A senior government source yesterday confirmed that Holden "was not interested" in bidding for the government security cars with the contract likely to be awarded to BMW over the coming days. The government is already using BMW X5s for security support vehicles for the PM claiming there was nothing in Australia built to specifications required for protection.
The Government will need a total of 20 armored BMW, Mercedez or Audis for the G20 meeting next year. It could save $1 million in lease fees by sourcing 9 of the vehicles from a new Government fleet of BMWs.—Paul Duchene
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