Ford has transformed its head office in Melbourne into a new product development centre as part of a $50 million dollar investment to enhance vehicle engineering capability and drive innovation in Australia.
The new Asia Pacific Product Development Centre, which features state-of-the-art virtual design and engineering capability, will be the centrepiece of Australia’s most advanced automotive development campus. The centre positions Ford as the automaker with the most comprehensive capability to design and engineer vehicles in Australia.
In addition to the facilities upgrade, Ford said it was increasing Australian R&D investment by 50 per cent to $450 million in 2017 to support increased vehicle development programs. By next year, Ford will have a 2,000 person strong team in Australia, including 1750 engineers, designers and technicians.
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“Ford is investing heavily in new products and mobility solutions globally to make our customers’ lives better, and Australia is a key centre of innovation for us,” said Mark Fields, president and CEO, Ford Motor Company.
“The Australian team will build on their key role leading development of the global Everest SUV and Ranger pickup by creating more world-class vehicles and bringing even more fuel efficiency and safety innovations to customers.”
The new Asia Pacific Product Development Centre will benefit from Ford’s Cave Automated Virtual Environment, which allows Ford engineers to work in a detailed virtual environment to improve speed and efficiency.
As part of the separate $50 million investment, Ford is expanding and enhancing several other key facilities, including:
- Expansion of the Ford Asia Pacific Design Studio in 2017, including increasing the modeling capacity and nearly doubling the state-of-the-art milling area with the addition of a new fiveaxis mill.
- Upgrades to the company’s 950-hectacre Lara Proving Ground outside Geelong. It will feature new test facilities including durability, crash, noise vibration and harshness. Ford also is adding a new test area at the proving ground to support validation of a greater range of driver assist technologies.
- New maker space within the Broadmeadows development campus to help employees pursue even more innovations much like the company’s TechShop in the U.S., which helped Ford patent more ideas in 2016 than any other automaker.
- Upgrades to Ford’s emissions testing laboratory as the company invests significantly in fuel saving to help customers save at the pump while meeting stringent emissions standards
The new maker space and other investments build on Ford’s legacy of local and global innovation.
In fact, Ford patents globally reached 3,200 this year while more than 8,000 new inventions were submitted by employees in 2016, a 40 per cent increase from the previous year and a more than 90 per cent jump versus 2014.
“It’s an exciting time as Ford transforms into an auto and mobility company, and our team in Australia will play a key role in delivering the breakthroughs and solutions for customers not only in Australia but around the world,” said Trevor Worthington, VP, Product Development, Asia Pacific.
Ford is also increasing its commitment to helping develop the next generation of engineers and designers. Ford recently raised $300,000 to expand student robotics programs in Broadmeadows and Geelong partner schools. Ford engineers will personally mentor students in these Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Maths (STEAM) programs to develop and program robots for competition around the world.
“Ford is investing in new products, advanced innovations and emerging mobility solutions for Australians – all while inspiring people inside and outside Ford to develop the next great ideas, said Graeme Whickman, president and CEO, Ford of Australia.
“Our new R&D investments and strengthening local business will lead to even more innovations to help our customers move around more freely while making their lives better.”
Ford has more to offer these buyers after launching a record number of new vehicles – including the Ranger and Everest with global development led from Australia – in the past two years.