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Ford committed to ‘versatile’ Australian engineering division

Ford’s head of internal combustion engine vehicle programs, Trevor Worthington, has said the company’s Australia-based team of engineers and designers are versatile enough to work on a whole range of products for the local and overseas markets.

The Ford team here developed the Ranger and Everest and has been deeply involved in the creation of vehicles for markets such as China and India.

Mr Worthington said the ute and its SUV spinoff would remain major focuses going forward, but added the team would be capable of taking on more future-focused, electrified products.

“So my intention is to totally maintain that expertise; because the Ranger and Everest is such a unique thing relative to what we do everywhere else… well, who else could do what the Ranger and Everest team do?” he said.

“If I was to say that they’re going to work on electrified versions, then that would be me confirming that there are electrified versions that they would have to work on. So I’m not going to say that.

“But I would say, is the team versatile? Are they capable of that versatility to work on different things? They’ve already shown their ability to do that.”

While the Ranger and Everest are finally reaching showrooms after several years of design, development and engineering by Ford Australia, the local arm will continue to lead these two vehicle programs.

Ford Australia recently cut 120 jobs across its product development and design teams, but it said this tally includes contractors and not permanent employees. The cuts leave approximately 2300 workers remaining, a figure which also includes contractors.

The company says its contract workforce levels regularly change, based on its product development cycle. It says these cuts occur as it reaches the next phase of its product development and launch cycle.

Ford Australia also says it will continue to contribute “extensively” to global programs.

“Ford is currently undergoing a global transformation, which includes implementing significant changes in priorities and organization consistent with the Ford+ plan for growth and value creation,” said a spokesperson for Ford Australia.

“As part of this, we have laid out clear targets to lower our cost structure to ensure we are lean and fully competitive with the best in the industry.”

Ford invested $12 million in an expansion of its Melbourne design studio, which opened last year. The investment came after Ford spent $1.9 billion in research and development in Australia between 2016 and 2019, followed by a $500 million spend in 2020.

It says it typically invests around $500 million each year in its local operations.

The 2300m2 expansion of the local design centre has seen it gain 100 new workstations, an extended clay modelling workshop, a virtual reality review space, and a new five-axis gantry milling centre for use by the team’s 40 clay modellers.

The design studio was where the Ford Falcon was designed, dating back to the XA of 1972. Also penned here was the locally engineered Ford Territory.

Ford Australia designers and engineers have also worked on various products for China, India and South America which have never been sold here, including the Escort and the outgoing Taurus for the Chinese market.

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