Ford’s road back
These shots reveal the Blue Oval’s grand SUV plan
THE Falcon and Territory might be on death row but that doesn’t mean it’s game over at Ford Australia.
Work is still under way on dozens of projects at Ford’s local engineering base, including a headlining SUV that is being fast-tracked for production in 2014.
The SUV will come from a development program known as T6, which to date has produced the award-winning Ford Ranger/Mazda BT50 twins.
It is believed to be a sevenseater that’s bigger than the Territory, packing the punch to go up against the best in class, both in Australia and around the Asia-Pacific region.
Its Australian roots could even mean it wears Endeavour badges in showrooms, although it’s also known as Everest.
This development car is caught this week by Jackson Emiris, a smartphone-wielding Carsguide reader, on the Princes Highway near Avalon, just outside Melbourne.
‘‘ It seems to be a Ford Territory-cross-Ford Ranger,’’ says Emiris. ‘‘ On the back of the car it reads ‘ Left Hand Drive’ and ‘ Engineering Evaluation Vehicle’.’’
The car clearly has Ranger roots, carrying the pick-up’s panels from the front to the door pillar. From there, it ismated with a Territory tail to provide the extra rear space that will attract SUV buyers.
Carsguide can confirm it’s one of a run of prototypes that are being tested and developed in Victoria, both at Ford Australia’s proving ground in the You Yangs and on public roads. They have been up and running for several months, pointing to a public unmasking in the second half of 2014.
‘‘ Ford has always said the Ranger pick-up would be the first of the vehicles to come off the T6 platform,’’ Ford Australia’s Neil McDonald says. ‘‘ The Ranger pick-up is the first ‘ top hat’ of that platform. However, at this stage we cannot provide any further specifics as to timing or features.’’
The Endeavour, if it is called that, will join the 22 ute models already spun from the Ranger platform, including the latest XLS. The success of the T6 project is reflected in its classleading comfort, refinement and safety.