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Ford Australia locks in T6 development
‘Huge things’ happening at Ford’s design and engineering centres, says Burela
24 Sep 2010
FORD Australia has confirmed it will be the on-going global development centre for Ford’s global T6 light truck platform, which will make its worldwide debut under the all-new Ranger and Mazda’s similarly redesigned BT-50 ute at the Australian International Motor Show in October.
Company president and CEO Marin Burela said at this week’s media launch for the new Focus RS hot hatch that “huge things” were happening at Ford’s Victorian design and engineering centres in Cambellfield and Geelong, where work was progressing on “many derivatives” to be built on the ladder-chassis T6 platform.
As GoAuto has reported, one of those will be an SUV to challenge vehicles such as Mitsubishi’s Triton-based Challenger and Nissan’s Navara-based Pathfinder.
From top: Current Ford Ranger, Ford Australia president and CEO Marin Burela, Ford EcoBoost four-cylinder engine.
Mr Burela described the T6 project as the “biggest single technical development program that Australia as a country has ever seen in its history”.
“No one in the history of the automotive world in Australia has ever embarked on such a huge tech development of a new car like we have with the new Ranger,” he said.
“The vehicle will be sold in over 180 different countries in the world.
“That’s the reason we elected to do the global launch of the vehicle in Australia at the Sydney motor show.
“So, huge things are happening and huge things will continue to happen.”
Mr Burela said the unveiling of the new Ranger in Sydney would mark the start of “a mind-blaster of a year for us”.
“2011 will be an absolutely incredible year for us in terms of product launches,” he said. “The whole journey starts now, at the Sydney motor show, where we will be launching a new global pick-up truck, the Ranger.”
Mr Burela promised that visitors to the Ford stand in Sydney “will see a few things”, adding: “It is all starting to come together.”
Among the new Ford products confirmed for release next year are the EcoBoost four-cylinder Falcon, liquid propane injection Falcon and turbo-diesel Territory.
Also expected on sale here next year is the new Ranger, which will be built alongside the new BT-50 in Thailand from mid-2011 before export production ramps up.
However, the much-needed all-new Focus small car is only likely to venture Down Under as a 2012 model, first from Germany and later from Thailand.
Mr Burela said Ford’s Australian engineering centre remained a critical part of Ford Asia-Pacific’s growth strategy and Ford Australia was excited about what that meant for Australia.
“We developed and tested and prepared the Indian car, the Figo,” he said.
“Have a look at the raging success it is in India. It is now being exported to South Africa.”
Mr Burela said the way supply of Figo was being outstripped by demand was “almost frightening”.
Ford Australia’s design, engineering and testing centres employ about 900 workers, switching between products such as the T6 derivatives, Falcon and Territory.
Mr Burela said he was extremely confident Ford Australia would report a profit in 2010, making back-to-back years in the black after last year’s return to profit ($13 million).
He heaped praise on Ford Motor Co president Alan Mullaly, saying under his direction and the ‘One Ford’ policy, Ford was a different company to that of a few years ago.
“We went out and listened to our customers, and listened some more, and then we went out and listened again,” he said.
Mr Burela said products such as the Ford Fiesta were an example of Ford’s new direction.
He said the Fiesta – which is now being built in Thailand – had grown Ford’s light-car market share from about 4.7 per cent to between 8.3 and 8.4 per cent now.
“The greatest problem with that car is that we can’t get enough,” he said.
Despite the success of the Fiesta, Mr Burela said he continued to see a healthy future for large cars in Australia, where Ford remained committed to the Falcon.
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