Future Models - Ford 2011 Ranger
Mazda, Ford to build T6-based utes from mid-2011
True blue: Ford's Ranger ute is set to be replaced next year by an Australian-designed and engineered vehicle, built side-by-side with Mazda's own variant in Thailand.
Mazda and Ford confirm mid-2011 Thai production of Aussie-developed utilities
27 August 2010
MAZDA and Ford have committed $US350 million ($A394m) toward shared production facilities in Thailand for each brand to build a version of the new-generation, Australian-developed one-tonne utility, codenamed T6, from next year.
To replace the Ranger and BT-50 utes, the T6 versions again will be built under Mazda and Ford’s AutoAlliance (Thailand) joint-venture where the two companies this week confirmed production would start in mid-2011.
Pre-production versions of the T6 have been spotted testing in Victoria several times this month, while the final product is expected to be shown on Ford’s stand at the Australian International Motor Show in Sydney in October.
In a joint statement, Mazda and Ford said the new investment would support production of the new-generation compact pick-up trucks “and reaffirms the ongoing strategic relationship between Ford and Mazda”.
The companies said the investment would support facility upgrades and supplier tooling for both vehicles, and that, once completed, Mazda and Ford’s total joint investment in the AAT facility would exceed $US1.85 billion since operations began in 1995.
AAT president Toshinori Kusuhashi said: “Today’s investment announcement marks another important step forward in AAT’s development as a state-of-the-art manufacturing hub.
Left: Mazda BT-50.
“Through the ongoing support of the Thai government, Thailand’s automotive industry has continued to grow and become more efficient, enabling AAT to build and export world-class pick-up trucks and cars.
“This new investment will enable us to continue to enhance the one-tonne pick-up’s reputation as product champion of Thailand’s automotive industry.”
Ford’s Asia Pacific and Africa president Joe Hinrichs said: “This new investment in AAT reinforces Ford Motor Company’s long-term commitment to Thailand as a strategic manufacturing base for our global operations.”
Mazda’s representative director Masaharu Yamaki added: “The new investment means that AAT will continue to be a global centre of excellence for the production of both brands’ compact pick-up trucks, and play an important role in Mazda’s global strategy.”
As well as the current Ranger and BT-50 utilities sold in Australia, the AAT joint-venture has brought to Thailand production of the Mazda2 and, from October, the facelifted Ford Fiesta.
The next-generation Ford Focus and the related Mazda3 small cars sold in Australia are also expected to be built in Thailand from 2012, with the announcement last month that Ford would invest $US450 million to construct a state-of-the-art manufacturing plant to produce the Focus in Thailand.
As GoAuto has reported, the new passenger car plant will have initial production capacity of 150,000 vehicles, with 85 per cent of production destined for markets outside Thailand.
The T6 utility has been designed and engineered by Ford at its regional product development centre at Ford Australia headquarters in Broadmeadows, north of Melbourne.
It will also spawn a range of variants, not just across the utility series but in related vehicles, including a hardcore separate-chassis SUV – a model which is already in development in Australia.