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Ford  FoMoCo futurist: Global product development vice-president Derrick Kuzak.

FoMoCo futurist: Global product development vice-president Derrick Kuzak.

Ford Motor Company reshuffles its global engineering and purchasing structure

THE Ford Motor Co has outlined its plans to eliminate duplicate engineering and purchasing “efforts” in its subsidiaries worldwide, which looks to be a precursor to possible changes facing Ford Australia as the American auto giant decides upon the location responsible for its forthcoming global rear-wheel drive platform.

As GoAuto reported last week, Australia still has a fighting chance to win the contract but it looks increasingly likely that America will get the nod.

The decision could hinge on talks between Ford Australia management and global product development group vice-president Derrick Kuzak, who visits Australia early next month.

According to a statement released by Ford headquarters, global purchasing group vice-president Tony Brown has been working with Mr Kuzak to “more closely integrate the two organisations and eliminate duplications in how vehicles are created, engineered and sourced”.

Under this new structure, Ford is designating global product development “leads” for different vehicle segments, one of them being large cars.

At the same time, according to Ford, the company is assembling joint product development and purchasing teams around the world with responsibility for the company’s core engineering and purchasing functions.

Ford center imageLeft: Ford Australia's Geelong stamping press.

Teams in North America will be responsible for electrical and body (interior and exterior) engineering for vehicles worldwide, as well as select powertrains such as V6 and V8 engines, hybrids and automatic transmissions.

Teams in Europe will be responsible for chassis engineering, and certain powertrains, including four-cylinder petrol and diesel engines, and manual transmissions.

In Asia Pacific and Africa, which includes Australia, “engineering and purchasing resources will be integrated into Ford’s global core engineering and purchasing groups in Europe and the Americas.

“APA will remain responsible for specific global product development programs and all regional programs”.

What this means for the future of Ford manufacturing in Australia is still to be determined.

While Dearborn has said that certain vehicle systems will continue to be developed on a regional basis – Ford Australia’s role in the global compact pick-up truck development program being a case in point – it has also emphasised that “there will be closer co-ordination on a core engineering and commodity purchasing level to improve efficiency and eliminate duplication of work”.

With North America moving to RWD for large cars, there appears to be no room in this structure for both the US and Australia developing cars with the same “common DNA” and each using a large number of unique components.

Product development cycles are also being dramatically reduced – by 35 per cent in North America alone by next year.

According to Ford, the organisational changes supporting the new structure will begin this month and continue as new vehicle programs are started. It claims they will not result in layoffs or large-scale relocations.

“This is a crucial part of the plan that we started more than a year ago,” said Ford president and CEO Alan Mulally.

“We need product development and purchasing organisations that are aligned on a global scale. This is an important step in fostering a ‘One Ford’ approach that leverages our global resources and expertise.”

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