Aussie Fords Coming?
Is Ford Eyeing Aussie Exports?
Ford announced on Thursday that its Australian operations would benefit from $1 billion in investment in the next decade. And in a carefully worded press release, Ford hinted that it may see its Down Under ops in the same way GM now views Holden - as a hothouse for future American-style muscle cars and rear-drive sedans. Ford confirmed in its release that its Australian Falcon/Territory sedans and utes would be the basis for new vehicles drawn from its "globally competitive large rear-wheel-drive vehicle platform." Ford also said that its Australian team would begin to design vehicles for left-hand-drive applications. Ford will spend some of the $1 billion on establishing Australia as its "center of excellence" for the Asia Pacific and Africa region. The center will be charged first with developing a new global light commercial vehicle architecture that will spawn commercial vehicles for use in 80 countries.
FORD AUSTRALIA ANNOUNCES MAJOR NEW PROJECTS
Ford Australia has announced a new strategic direction for the company, including significant investment in new projects and accompanying facilities, totalling more than AUD1.8 billion over the next decade.
The company's Product Development team will take an enhanced role as an engineering and design 'centre of excellence' for the Asia Pacific and Africa region.
One of the first projects to be undertaken by a significantly expanded team will include the design and engineering leadership of a new global light commercial vehicle architecture that will eventually be used for product in more than 80 countries worldwide. In addition, the Australian centre of excellence will develop future Falcon and Territory programs for Australia and export markets.
Ford Australia has worked cooperatively with both the Federal Government and the Victorian State Government to ensure the successful outcome of these major investment opportunities.
"As we work to build Ford Motor Company's global competitiveness, it is critical that we continue to invest and grow our capabilities in the Asia Pacific region," said Mr Bill Ford, Ford Motor Company Chairman and CEO.
"The engineering experience and capability we have in Australia is a strategic advantage for Ford and it is important that we use this great resource not just to benefit Australian customers, but to benefit customers in markets around the world.
"The skills and technologies available in the Australian marketplace are some of the best in our global organisation.
"I am glad to see our strategic vision for Ford Australia is shared by the Federal Government and the Victorian State Government. We are very pleased to have worked closely with them to ensure the viability and future success of these major opportunities," said Mr Ford.
"For over 80 years, Ford has taken a leadership role in automotive design, engineering and manufacturing in Australia," said Ford Australia President, Mr Tom Gorman.
"We have been very successful locally with the Falcon range of vehicles, which have been a mainstay of Australian motoring for more than 45 years. More recently, with the launch of Australia's top selling sports utility vehicle, the Ford Territory, we have solidified our position as one of Australia's leading car companies.
"Our local success is now allowing us to capitalise on our strategic location within the increasingly important Asia Pacific region.
"Our new globally-oriented strategic direction will allow us to build upon the capabilities and intellectual excellence we have here in Australia. The Ford Australia team will deliver an exciting new engineering and design program for numerous markets around the world, while also investigating further future export opportunities for both Territory and Falcon."
Global light commercial vehicle architecture
Ford Australia will have lead design and engineering responsibility for a new vehicle architecture that is targeted to underpin a range of light commercial vehicles in more than 80 countries worldwide.
Engineered for both right- and left-hand drive and manufactured in multiple locations, the first derivative is most likely to be a pick-up truck, although the architecture has the capability for a variety of multiple configurations and body styles.
"We are at the very beginning of this exciting new project. Significant engineering and design work over a number of years is still required before formal program approval will be granted by Ford. It is anticipated that once this occurs, the architecture derivatives are expected to result in more than 400,000 sales annually," said Ford Australia Vice President of Product Development, Mr Trevor Worthington.
The design and engineering program is expected to generate in excess of AUD700 million in research and development revenues for Ford Australia during the course of the project.
The new light commercial vehicle project will provide Ford Australia's design and engineering teams with the opportunity to extend their technical knowledge and capabilities, and also represents an expansion of Ford Motor Company's global shared technologies strategy.
"Our success with Falcon, Territory and all their derivatives, has shown that Ford Australia can develop world-class car-based vehicles," said Mr Worthington.
"This new project will afford us with the opportunity to broaden that knowledge base and further increase our importance to the rest of Ford's product development community globally.
"Specifically, engineering for left-hand drive will ensure we have the capabilities necessary to develop possible opportunities for our local products in the future," said Mr Worthington.
Falcon and Territory
An all-new Falcon model and future Territory models will form the basis of potential export opportunities for Ford Australia's globally competitive large rear-wheel drive vehicle platform.
"Our current Falcon model has enjoyed modest export success to New Zealand, while the flexibility inherent in Territory has expanded the company's export reach to South Africa and Thailand," said Ford Australia President, Mr Tom Gorman.
"While we have no concrete export plans to announce at this time, our new strategic direction as a company will involve us actively targeting additional opportunities for our outstanding domestically manufactured vehicles.
"The addition of left-hand drive engineering capability to our product development team will provide significant experience and assist us to develop a viable export program for our world class rear-wheel drive architecture.
"We have agreed with our Government partners, at both the Federal and State level, to aggressively pursue all potential exports for our technologies and skills. We look forward to making progress on this issue in the years to come."
Ford Australia's Product Development team will take on an enhanced role within the company's global product development community as a design and engineering centre of excellence for the Asia Pacific region.
"The Asia-Pacific region is vitally important to the car industry globally," said Ford Motor Company Vice President and President of Asia Pacific and Africa, Mr Peter Daniel.
"The design and engineering capability built up by Ford Australia's product development team with the success of recent projects such as both the BA and BF Falcon, the Territory and, most recently, the design and engineering of a new Fiesta specifically for the Indian market, has ensured the team is best placed to lead major new projects in this region.
"This regional capability is critical as Asian economies mature and consumers continue to demand outstanding motor vehicles tailored to their specific requirements."
Importantly, Ford Australia's product development team will take the lead on developing new processes and methods for Ford's global product development community.
"Increasing the stature of our PD team goes further than just the additional projects we plan to undertake," said Ford Australia Vice President of Product Development, Mr Trevor Worthington.
"As a recognised key partner in Ford's product development world, it will be incumbent on us to develop new best practises and methods of operating that will improve quality and reduce the time to market.
"Our design and engineering lead role for a new global light commercial vehicle architecture will require us to share these best practises with our partners around the world and help drive their implementation."
Significant investment in world class facilities to deliver state-of-the-art vehicle dynamics, safety and refinement will take place at Ford Australia's operations in Broadmeadows, Geelong and the You Yangs to ensure the company can take advantage of strategic global opportunities.
Additionally, the company will also expand its core design and engineering staff.
Investing in the future
The projects announced by Ford Australia today, along with the company's new strategic focus, will ensure the success of Ford in Australia for the foreseeable future.
"Our business is changing," said Mr Gorman.
"We have been very successful with our business model over the past 80 years. Now is the time to take our company to the next level and grow our business even further. Today's initiatives and investment plans are the first step in a new strategic direction for our company.
"Although some of these plans are longer term in nature, the recognition shown to our product development team and the broader Ford Australia business through projects such as the light commercial vehicle architecture and the state-of-the-art rear wheel drive platform, proves that we are on the right track and that our direction is the right one for the future of our company."
Ford Australia history
Ford cars have been sold in Australia since 1904. Growing demand for Ford vehicles led to the establishment of the Ford Motor Company of Australia on March 31, 1925.
Ford began production of the Falcon in 1960 – a vehicle that now holds the mantle of Australia's longest running nameplate. Seven generations of the Falcon have been produced and it is joined by Territory as the only two Australian vehicles that are wholly designed, developed and built locally.
Headquarters are located in Broadmeadows, on the northern outskirts of Melbourne, along with an assembly plant, research centre, engineering & technology centre, training centre and Ford Customer Service Division.
The company's proving ground is located in the You Yangs outside Geelong and casting, stamping and engine plants are all located in Geelong. A significant portion of the company's product development team is also based at Geelong.
Ford has 230 dealers located around Australia and also operates regional offices in each major capital city.