Ford Australia has announced a new direction which includes investment in new projects and facilities, estimated to be more than AUD1.8 billion through to 2023.
Ford Australia will set up an engineering and design "Centre of Excellence"
for the Asia-Pacific and Africa regions. It starts with a new light commercial vehicle planned be sold in more than 80 different countries.
In addition, they will develop the Territory and the Falcon programs for export and local sales.
The plan is to focus on export and to work cooperatively with the Australian Federal and Victorian State Governments. Together they want to grow and invest directly by suppling vehicles specifically for the Asia-Pacific region.
The manufacturing and engineering experience Ford has in Australia should be an advantage and should be able to transfer to other markets around to world.
For nearly 90 years, Ford Australia has taken a major role in automotive design, engineering and manufacturing and has a successful history with the Falcon range of vehicles that spans over 45 years and more recently with the top selling Ford Territory. This type of success is being seen by Ford as a way to capitalise on its strategic location within the maturing Asia-Pacific markets.
It is hoped that the Ford Australia team will deliver an exciting new engineering and design program for a number of these markets, while continuing to invest into export opportunities for both the Falcon and the Territory.
New light commercial global platform
Ford Australia is to take the major role in the design and engineering for a new vehicle platform that will support a range of light commercial vehicles in about 80 countries worldwide.
Manufactured in both left and righthand drive options and assembled in different locations, the first off the line is said to be a pick-up truck. It's early days yet and there is a lot of work to be completed before Ford can give the final approval but it seems it's underway.
Just the design and engineering program alone is expected to generate about AUD$700 million in research and development revenue during the course of the project. This will provide the design and engineering teams an opportunity to extend their technical knowledge and capabilities, and represents an expansion of the Ford Motor Company's global shared technologies strategy.
History has shown that they are capable of developing world standard vehicles. The new strategic direction this project will give them provides an opportunity to broaden that knowledge base and further increase their product development globally.
The Falcon and the future Territory are planned to form the major export opportunity for the global large rear-wheel drive vehicle. The Falcon has enjoyed some level of export success in New Zealand, while the appeal of the Territory has enabled them to reach into South Africa and Thailand. They are not ruling out looking at other locally made vehicles for export. Having the ability to construct using lefthand drive technology will further enhance the vehicle range coming out of Ford Australia. This could enable them to offer these vehicles to new markets, especially the rear-wheel drive options.
The Asia-Pacific region is seen as a vital market, extremely important to the car industry as a whole. Added to the success of the Falcon and Territory the new Fiesta specifically designed for the Indian market, has ensured the team is well placed to develop any major new projects for this region. The Asian-Pacific economies are maturing rapidly and consumers continue to demand quality motor vehicles tailored to their specific needs. Investment will be needed in world class facilities to deliver state-of-the-art vehicles, safety and refinement. Upgrades to the current operations in Broadmeadows, Geelong and at You Yangs will ensure the company can take advantage of these global opportunities. Additionally, the company will also expand its core design and engineering team numbers.
Success for the future
These new projects announced, along with the company's new strategic focus, should go some way to ensure the presence of Ford in Australia for the foreseeable future. These new initiatives and investment plans are the first step in a new strategic direction and although they are longer term in nature, the recognition shown to the product development team, the light commercial vehicle architecture and the state-of-the-art rear wheel drive platform, should prove in time that they are on the right track and that this new direction is the right one.
Ford Australia history
Ford vehicles have been on sale and in demand in Australia since 1904 which led to the establishment of the Ford Motor Company of Australia in March 1925.
Ford began building the Falcon in Australia in 1960. This vehicle holds the mantle of Australia's longest running nameplate. 7 generations of the Falcon have been produced and it is joined by the Territory as the only two Australian vehicles that are wholly designed, developed and built locally.
The Headquarters for Ford is located in Broadmeadows, on the northern outskirts of Melbourne, and includes the 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. Casting, stamping and engine plants are also located in Geelong along with a significant portion of the company's product development team.