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Ford Australia to design new 4WD

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Ford Australia to design new 4WD


August 4, 2010 - 1:24PM

Ford Australia will design a new 4WD for overseas markets.

Ford Australia is designing a new four-wheel-drive for global markets.

The new project would be a huge shot in the arm for the company, which faces uncertainty over the long-term future of its locally designed Falcon and Territory cars.

The vehicle will be built on the same underpinnings as the upcoming Ranger one-tonne ute, a global platform developed by Ford Australia for sale both locally and overseas. That project employed more than 400 engineers at Ford's Broadmeadows headquarters in Victoria and will be sold in 150 countries.

Ford spokeswoman Sinead McAlary won't comment directly on a report in automotive industry journal Go Auto News that the local operation has been given the nod for the program.

But she says the company has always planned to build other vehicles off the estimated $700 million Ranger vehicle development program, which is codenamed T6.

"T6 is a global platform and we've always said we have the capability to generate more than one vehicle off that platform," she says.

The project is expected to be headed by US off-road specialist Todd Hoevener, who led the development of the new Explorer SUV in the United States and has recently moved to Australia.

Ford designers and engineers have been working with Ford and Mazda engineers in Thailand and Japan since 2006 on the T6, which will replace the current Ford Ranger ute and Mazda BT-50.

The new vehicle is likely to be powered by a new fuel-efficient four-cylinder turbo engine that will also power Falcon models from next year. Ford won't say how much the new project is worth - and it won't be as big as the original $700 million program - but it is likely to run into hundreds of millions of dollars.

The new 4WD is unlikely to replace the locally-built Ford Territory because it is based on more rudimentary truck underpinnings, while the Territory shares a more sophisticated platform with the Ford Falcon large car.

The futures of the Territory and Falcon are under review, with Ford considering replacing the Falcon with the US-designed Taurus after 2015. Ford wants to build global vehicles that can be sold in all markets and the Falcon and Territory are vulnerable because they are only sold in Australia.

Under the company's "One Ford" program, a future Territory may be based on the Taurus global platform. Ford could also replace the Territory with the Explorer SUV, which is already based on the Taurus.

Australia's car makers, faced with dwindling sales of their bread-and-butter local cars, are increasingly becoming involved in global projects.

Apart from Ford, Australian engineers are being trained by Toyota in Japan to play a leading role in the development of the next generation Toyota HiLux, while Holden engineers have been responsible for developing Chevrolet and Pontiac vehicles off the Commodore.



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