Australia prepares for life after manufacturing, announcing it will introduce a completely refreshed lineup and several all-new models between now and 2017.
CEO Alan Mulally traveled to Sydney for today’s announcement, saying Australia will witness an unprecedented acceleration of new-vehicle launches that will see the auto maker offer 11 global models, with a full range of cars, SUVs and light-commercial vehicles.
“We are introducing more great vehicles to Australian customers more quickly – with more innovation, more first-to-market safety advancements and more features customers really want and value,” Mulally says in a statement.
“We also are committed to Australia as one of our product-development centers of excellence, with talented designers and engineers creating vehicles and technologies here in Australia for the world.”
Ford, which will end local manufacturing in October 2016, brings a number of key executives to Sydney for the event, including Chief Operating Officer Mark Fields; Jim Farley, executive vice president-global marketing, sales and service and Lincoln Group; and David Schoch, president-Asia Pacific. Also on hand is Ford Australia President and CEO Bob Graziano.
Fields gives the country, and the world, the first look at a rugged, 7-seat concept SUV called the Ford Everest Concept, created by the Ford design and product development team in Australia.
“This is our vision for a large, 7-seat off-road SUV to allow our customers to take on the world, and it was created by our world-class design team here in Australia,” Fields says.
The Ranger-based Ford Everest Concept features an inverted trapezoid grille, set high on the front of the car. Its contemporary look conveys ruggedness, combined with modern proportions, dynamic window graphics and a sculptured profile.
The auto maker sees it as a perfect complement to the rest of its utility-vehicle portfolio – the new Ford EcoSport, which arrives in December, and the all-new Kuga and Territory.
Ford’s vision of the future for Australia includes the full family of Ford vehicles: the Fiesta, Focus, Mondeo, EcoSport, Kuga, Ranger and Transit, as well as the iconic Mustang and new ’14 Falcon. A range of customer-focused technologies also will roll out in future Fords.
Graziano says Ford in Australia is entering a new phase.
“Our customers, our employees and Australia can be assured that we’re connected to the nation and committed to our customers through terrific products with class-leading technologies,” he says. “Our road to growth is with great new products that serve a broad range of Ford customers.”
The auto maker shows off the new Ford Fiesta, Ford Fiesta ST, Ford Mondeo hatch and wagon and Ford EcoSport that will be sold in Australia. In addition, it will offer commercial customers the Ford Transit Custom, as well as the heavier-duty Ford Transit Cargo model.
The Transit Custom arrives Down Under later this year and the Ford Transit Cargo hits the market early next year.
Ford’s MyKey technology will be introduced locally on the new Fiesta ST in September and rear inflatable seatbelts will be rolled out in the ’14 Mondeo. These will be complemented by the influx of other new technologies, including EcoBoost engines, Sync in-car connectivity and AppLink.
Ford is taking its popular Fiesta small car to a new level with a sharp redesign inside and out, improved fuel efficiency and a host of new technologies. It will be available in four models, including the high-performance, 1.6L EcoBoost-equipped, 3-door ST. The Fiesta goes on sale in September.
The all-new Mondeo, which shares its platform with the Fusion in the U.S., will be available in Australia in 5-door or wagon body styles.
Powertrain choices will include a new 1.5L Ecoboost engine delivering 178 hp at 6,000 rpm and peak torque of 177 lb.-ft. (240 Nm) from 1,700 to 4,500 rpm. A 2.0L EcoBoost also will be available, as will a 2.0L Duratorq turbodiesel.
Ford says the locally built ’14 Falcon will see a range of environmental initiatives designed to reduce its carbon-dioxide footprint and improve fuel efficiency.
Among improvements is enhanced aerodynamics, advanced low rolling-resistance tires and a new high-tech, lightweight 6-speed automatic transmission.
Performance-car buyers finally will be able to get behind the wheel of the legendary Mustang when it returns to Australia in right-hand drive.
The new-to-Australia Ford EcoSport, a compact, rugged and fuel-efficient cross/utility vehicle that will go on sale in December, is based on Ford’s global B-segment platform that underpins the Ford Fiesta hatchback.
It is intended to meet the increasing customer demand for small CUVs in Australia, which Ford expects to grow significantly over the next few years.
The auto maker also will expand collaboration with Australian universities as part of a commitment to develop a world-class system of external alliances, programs and practices in Australia and Asia. Senior Ford technical engineer Richard Taube has been appointed Ford Australia’s manager for university programs.
Schoch says Ford intends to expand its research presence in Australia and to grow alliances with the most technically capable universities.
“It is industrially relevant and we also believe such collaborations are a way for Ford to give back to our Australian community while also ensuring we develop world-class technologies that can benefit all Ford customers,” he says.
Australian customers will continue to benefit from Ford’s local design and engineering expertise, he says.
“We have great designers and engineers whose Australian ingenuity and can-do attitude continues to shine on the global stage,” Schoch says.
Ford is the largest investor in research and development among Australian auto makers. Last year’s spending of A$270 million ($245.9 million) brings the company’s total research and development outlay in the country to more than A$1.9 billion ($1.7 billion) over the last six years.
Ford says the ongoing investment is helping not only develop world-class vehicles, but also ensure Australia remains an innovative global automotive technology leader.