End of an era for Ford Aus­tralia

Motor Equipment News - - OEM -

On Oc­to­ber 15 Ford of Aus­tralia marked the end of 91 proud years of man­u­fac­tur­ing in Aus­tralia, re­tired the iconic Fal­con, and said good­bye to 600 man­u­fac­tur­ing em­ploy­ees who will leave the com­pany.

Some 160 man­u­fac­tur­ing em­ploy­ees have been or will be re­de­ployed from Ford’s plants to new de­sign and en­gi­neer­ing roles in the com­pany’s prod­uct de­vel­op­ment op­er­a­tions across Vic­to­ria. As one of Ford’s global prod­uct de­vel­op­ment hubs, Ford Aus­tralia is poised to con­tinue to de­liver the in­no­va­tion, cre­ativ­ity and know-how vi­tal to the com­pany’s fu­ture.

Ford Aus­tralia’s prod­uct de­vel­op­ment oper­a­tion be­gan in the 1960s with the de­vel­op­ment of the early im­ported Fal­cons to meet tough Aus­tralian con­di­tions. The prod­uct de­vel­op­ment team will now build on decades of con­tri­bu­tions by the Ford em­ploy­ees that made Fal­con a leg­end, the Fal­con ute a back­bone of lo­cal busi­nesses and the Ter­ri­tory a go-to SUV for fam­i­lies.

“To­day is an emo­tional day for all of us at Ford. We are say­ing good­bye to some of our proud and com­mit­ted man­u­fac­tur­ing em­ploy­ees and mark­ing an end to 91 years of man­u­fac­tur­ing in Aus­tralia,” said Graeme Whick­man, pres­i­dent and CEO, Ford of Aus­tralia.

“But, as the coun­try’s largest au­to­mo­tive in­vestor and soon em­ployer, we have been able to trans­fer many em­ploy­ees from our plants to our de­sign, en­gi­neer­ing and test­ing fa­cil­i­ties across Vic­to­ria.

We also ap­pre­ci­ate the part­ner­ship and as­sis­tance pro­vided by our unions and the fed­eral and state gov­ern­ments as we have de­liv­ered re­train­ing and other as­sis­tance pro­grammes for our team mem­bers.

Ford is in­vest­ing more than any other au­tomaker in lo­cal re­search and de­vel­op­ment. This year alone, Ford has in­vested A$300 mil­lion in lo­cal R&D, and with 2,000 team mem­bers by late 2017, in­clud­ing 1,100-plus de­sign­ers and en­gi­neers, will con­tinue shap­ing the auto in­dus­try’s fu­ture.

The lo­cal team leads global de­vel­op­ment of ve­hi­cles such as the Ranger pickup and Ever­est SUV at Ford’s new re­gional Prod­uct De­vel­op­ment Cen­tre in Broad­mead­ows that is be­ing trans­formed at the site of the iconic Head Of­fice build­ing. The com­pany’s De­sign Cen­tre, with in­no­va­tive fa­cil­i­ties such as a vir­tual re­al­ity de­sign lab – is next door.

“Ford will re­main a ma­jor pres­ence in Aus­tralia and we will carry for­ward the legacy of our man­u­fac­tur­ing team by con­tin­u­ing to de­sign and en­gi­neer world-class ve­hi­cles for Aus­tralia and the world for many years to come,” said Whick­man.

In Gee­long, Ford’s Re­search and De­vel­op­ment Cen­tre will con­tinue to sup­port ad­vanced en­gi­neer­ing work. Once de­signed and en­gi­neered, all ve­hi­cles are then put through their paces at Ford’s 950-hec­tacre prov­ing ground in Lara out­side Gee­long, which repli­cates some of the world’s tough­est driv­ing con­di­tions. The team also tests pro­to­type ve­hi­cles across the coun­try’s ex­pan­sive and pun­ish­ing ter­rain.

To mark this on­go­ing com­mit­ment, Ford will do­nate the pro­ceeds (less taxes) from the auc­tion of the fi­nal saleable Fal­con, Fal­con Ute and Ter­ri­tory to sup­port the es­tab­lish­ment and ex­pan­sion of stu­dent ro­bot­ics pro­grams in Broad­mead­ows and Gee­long schools. Ford en­gi­neers will work with these schools to ei­ther ex­pand or cre­ate hubs for Sci­ence, Tech­nol­ogy, En­gi­neer­ing, Arts and Maths (STEAM, for­merly STEM) pro­grammes. They will also men­tor teams of am­bi­tious kids who de­velop and pro­gram ro­bots to take on tough com­pe­ti­tion from around the world.

Com­ple­ment­ing Ford’s sig­nif­i­cant lo­cal R&D in­vest­ment, the com­pany is see­ing progress from work with its nearly 200 deal­ers to trans­form the brand, ve­hi­cle line-up and cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence. In par­tic­u­lar, more cus­tomers are ser­vic­ing their ve­hi­cles at Ford deal­er­ships and the com­pany’s re­tail sales are steadily in­creas­ing in a shift from a heav­ier mix of fleet busi­ness to more sales to in­di­vid­ual buy­ers.

Ford has more to of­fer these buy­ers after launch­ing a record num­ber of new ve­hi­cles – in­clud­ing the lo­cally de­vel­oped Ranger and Ever­est – in the past two years. Ford will now con­tinue to of­fer one of the fresh­est line-ups while con­tin­u­ing to roll out 20 new or re­freshed ve­hi­cles by 2020.

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