Ford’s Bold Claim
Ford says that it will be Australia’s largest automotive employer after 2017. Even though it was the first to pull the pin on its local manufacturing operation, or perhaps because of that, it is already well advanced with a survival strategy following the closure of its factories in Broadmeadows and Geelong.
It’s all about the brain power of more than 1100 engineers and designers, and the One Ford strategy from Detroit that has Australia supplying expertise throughout the Asian region.
Ford has already created the Ranger pickup for production in Thailand, developed a baby Figo for Ford of India, and is working on a born-again Escort for China.
And those are just the projects we know about.
“There will be 1500 jobs, with 1100 of those in design and engineering,” confirms Ford’s new Australian spokesman, Wes Sherwood, to AMC.
“They are working on some of the most advanced products and technologies in the world,” says Sherwood.
In the past, Ford Australia has been a closed shop when it comes to comment about its offshore efforts. But Sherwood and company president Bob Graziano know they have to spread the message about the future before the Falcon and Territory become part of the past.
“Our overall plan is to grow. That’s what people don’t understand,” says Sherwood.
“We’ll have the largest automotive employment here after 2017.”
And it’s not just the people who are already embedded outside the corporate headquarters in Broadmeadows.
Ford Australia has just restarted its university hiring progam for an intake in 2015 and is also looking to sponsor promising students.
“We’ll bring in some fresh blood and new ideas. And we’ve restarted our university research projects. We’re already looking at connectivity and lightweighting.”
Ford has already confirmed nine new models over the next three years, from the working-class Transit to the new-age Mustang, with the Focus and Mondeo also slated to get major makeovers in 2015. But it’s not just worrying about its own future. Ford Australia has just sponsored a ‘supplier fair’ in order to help smaller companies build connections with overseas Ford projects and bigger suppliers to the blue oval brand. A total of 40 Australian companies were involved with 17 regional suppliers.
“Nine of them have earned regional or global business,” Sherwood says.
“It was a really impressive event. We made all the connections.”
And he says that there are plenty of opportunities, as suppliers in high-cost countries such as Germany and Japan have proven.
“There are advanced mature markets around the globe with similar issues to Australia who have been able to supply and innovate.”