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Ford targets Toyota with Aussie wagon

Out of the blue: The Australian-developed T6 Ranger will spawn a Prado-style passenger wagon for global markets.

Locally developed SUV wagon expected to take on Toyota’s Prado and Fortuner globally

Ford logo25 Apr 2011

By BYRON MATHIOUDAKIS

FORD has ambitions of tackling one of Toyota’s core segments with a new Australian-developed five-door wagon based on the upcoming T6 Ranger one-tonne utility.

This vehicle will be a mid-sized body-on-frame SUV that will specifically target Toyota’s HiLux-based Fortuner – which is built and sold in various developing markets – as well as the more sophisticated and familiar LandCruiser Prado.

As reported exclusively by GoAuto nine months ago, it will be developed by the growing engineering group at Ford Australia’s Broadmeadows headquarters, where the company recently employed its 1000th engineer.

Ford’s global head of product development, Derrick Kuzak, confirmed to GoAuto at the New York motor show that Ford intended to tackle Toyota’s huge share of the “lucrative” market held by Fortuner and Prado in Australia and throughout the Asia-Pacific and Middle East regions.

Mr Kuzak said the stranglehold Toyota has with these vehicles in the Asian region especially is an opportunity too good for Ford to ignore.

“If you look at the share of the Fortuner and the Prado – certainly in Australia, but also all over the Pacific and into the Middle East – it is really a remarkable kind of share that these two vehicles have … in some markets it is over 25 per cent,” Mr Kuzak told us.

“It is a very lucrative market and they own it – at this point.”

27 center imageLeft: Toyota Prado and Fortuner.

Expected to be offered in a number of seating, drivetrain and technology specifications according to the markets it is sold in, the new wagon will likely be built mainly in Thailand, with other manufacturing locations also likely.

The rugged SUV is expected to follow in the footsteps of the T6 Ranger – which was designed and engineered at Broadmeadows – as one of the most widely marketed Ford vehicles in existence today.

It would join a growing number of forthcoming ladder-frame chassis-derived SUVs based on General Motors’ 2012 Colorado, the related Isuzu’s next-generation D-Max and possibly even Volkswagen’s Amarok.

In addition to the Toyota twosome, they will battle the Nissan Pathfinder, Ssangyong Rexton, Mitsubishi Challenger and Great Wall V250.

Mr Kuzak said the T6 Ranger’s development ‘home room’ in Australia would be expected to deliver further derivations as the need arises globally.

“The Australian team do compact pick-ups, and any other vehicles that may come from that platform for the entire globe,” he said.

“If you look at our product strategy today, you see, for example, a platform that underpins the (US market large car) Taurus but also a number of other vehicles in the North American market – the Flex (crossover wagon), (Lincoln’s) MKS (sedan) and MKT (crossover) and Explorer (SUV).

“So we have demonstrated an ability to take a platform and develop a wide range – from sedans to utilities – off that platform.

“At Detroit (auto show in January) we emphasised the Focus platform and we are going to have 10 vehicles coming off that platform over the next two years.

“So that ability to upfront have a platform and have a view of what type of top hats may come off that platform, and have that underpinning capability to deliver fully differentiated in terms of their design but also of their functionality, is something that we know how to do.”

Melbourne is one of four engineering centres within Ford, the others being in Germany, Britain and the United States.

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Ranger pricing

Motor industry news

GoAutoNews is Australia’s number one automotive industry journal covering the latest news, future and new model releases, market trends, industry personnel movements, and international events.