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Ford deep into development of second-gen Everest

Local ingenuity: Ford’s Asia-Pacific engineering and design teams are busy working on a follow-up to the Everest SUV.

Everest not arriving until October, but Ford already working on second-gen model

Ford logo4 Aug 2015

By TIM NICHOLSON in THAILAND

DEVELOPMENT of the second-generation Ford Everest is already in full swing, with the Australian-based design and engineering team that executed the first version retaining responsibility, alongside teams across the Asia-Pacific region.

The seven-seat SUV that just launched in the region ahead of an Australian showroom debut in October this year is the result of a four-year development program led by Ford’s Asia-Pacific design and engineering units based in Melbourne, Geelong and the You Yangs proving ground facility in Victoria.

Development of the first Everest kicked off about the time that the Ranger utility launched in Australia. The two vehicles share Ford’s T6 architecture and share various components, carry matching front-end designs and powertrains.

Ford Motor Company vice-president of product development for Asia-Pacific Trevor Worthington expressed caution in only praising the Australian team of engineers, and highlighted the work done across the region in developing the big off-roader.

He also confirmed that development is already underway on the second-generation version and acknowledged that strong competition will ensure the next one is better than the first.

“I am proud of everything we do,” Mr Worthington told GoAuto at the first media drive of the Everest in Chiang Rai, Thailand, last week.

“And I’m not just proud of the Australian team. I’ve got engineers in Nanjing (China), a team of engineers in India I am part of a global product development group. We work collaboratively across all of those places.

“Of course I am proud of what we do. But don’t take that to mean I think we are better than anybody else. This is a really super-competitive business and the moment anybody thinks they are superior, they are ready for a fall. We are proud of the vehicle we have created but we know that competition is tough and we are going to have to be better next time.

“And we are already doing that we are already working on the next one of these.”

When asked if it was the same team working on the Everest as the first-generation version, Mr Worthington said: “Yep, same team. We have learned all these lessons from the development of this vehicle and now we are working on the next one, as you would expect that’s kind of the process.”

As GoAuto reported from the Bangkok motor show in March where the facelifted Ranger pick-up was unveiled, Ford deep into development of the next-generation Ranger, a model that is sold in more than 200 markets.

However, Mr Worthington would not be drawn on further development of the T6 architecture beyond Ranger and Everest.

According to the product development chief, there are about 1150 engineers and 250 mechanics working at Ford’s Australian design and engineering centre. He added that the number “waxes and wanes” depending on the workload, but the Blue Oval is looking to expand the numbers, given the growing number of development programs in which it is involved.

“We are in the process of growing a bit just because of the work that is ahead of us, the cycle plan would say we need a few more people so we are looking now to grow the team,” he said.

When asked whether the completion of the Chinese-market Taurus program freed up those engineers to work on similar projects, Mr Worthington said the aim was to grow expertise by having people work on a variety of programs.

“I am not buying or selling how much we did on Taurus, but there are a stack of programs we work on and you … look across the skill sets and look across the total and it kind of moves over time,” he said.

“We’re not looking for massive change but I guess the goal is we would prefer to keep it as flat as we can but right now. We would say we are in a bit of a growth phase. Not just in Australia, I’m responsible for the team in Nanjing and India, we are growing everywhere. If you look at Ford PD (product development) globally, it is growing everywhere.

“To some extent my view of it is if there is a proliferation of work across a range of segments, in order for work to be interesting for people I want them to be able to develop an expertise that has them capable of being able to work on a D (segment) car or an SUV or a rear-wheel-drive sedan or whatever. I think it is healthy for people to have a range of experience within their pillar of expertise.”

Ford’s Australian-based engineering team has been responsible for development work on a number of global projects, including the Ranger and Everest, as well as the Chinese version of the full-size Taurus sedan, a developing market version of the previous-generation Fiesta, known as Figo, as well as a series of unconfirmed projects.

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