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Ford Australia could build Kuga

Focus on Kuga: Ford revealed its new compact SUV at Frankfurt in 2007.

Ford says all Focus derivatives are on its manufacturing radar, including Kuga

17 Mar 2008

FORD Australia says all bodystyle derivatives of the third-generation Focus, which will be manufactured at Broadmeadows from 2011, are under consideration for local production – including the Blue Oval’s all-new compact SUV, the Kuga.

“Obviously when we build the focus it will be on our C1 platform, which is a global platform, so we would be able to build any C1 derivative in Broadmeadows – and Kuga is a C1 derivative,” said new Ford Australia president Bill Osborne on Thursday.

“I won’t say it’s the Kuga that I’m focussed on, but I can say that I do believe that in the future it will be important to build multiple derivatives off that C1 platform.

“It (the compact SUV market) is a growing segment not just of the Australian market but the world market and being able to build derivatives off that platform will be very important for our operation.

“We are studying it (local Kuga production). I can’t give you a firm date, but I can tell you that is one of our studies,” he said.

27 center imageLeft: Ford's facelifted Focus and the redesigned Fiesta - both due on sale here next year.

Mr Osborne added that a range of Focus-based model derivatives will be a key part of Ford’s Broadmeadows manufacturing plans from 2011, when Ford Australia takes over production of the (next-generation) Focus from South Africa for the Asia-Pacific region.

“I think an astute observer will see really that Ford is moving towards more product variety around the world and that variety is going to demand flexibility in its manufacturing operations,” he said.

“The Broadmeadows facility is going to be a key player in that. It's very important for us to have that flexibility to maintain our operations here in Australia.

“Because we are building the C1 platform we’ll have the opportunity, if we deem it necessary, to build any variant of the C1 product. I think the important strategy for our operation is to build a lot of variety,” he said.

Mr Osborne added that plant complexity will be one of the biggest issues Ford will need to overcome when Broadmeadows begins producing the front-drive (and potentially all-wheel drive) variants of the Focus platform alongside the rear-drive FG Falcon and the rear/all-wheel drive Territory.

Apart from the three and five-door hatch and four-door sedan versions of the next Focus, and the all-new Kuga crossover revealed globally last year, Ford’s C1 platform also underpins European-only models like the current C-Max mini-people-mover.

“Obviously the big challenge for us is when we try to build the Focus side by side with all the buildable combinations we have with the FG – that will be a significant challenge for our manufacturing operation.

“That strategy is a long-term strategy and not one that’s designed around just this particular launch of the Focus. Our goal is to be able to build all models in our Broadmeadows facility plant over the next several years, so it's a strategy that's built around flexibility and it’s a global strategy for the Ford Motor Company,” said Mr Osborne.

The incoming Ford Oz boss said the company's focus on small cars already included the Fiesta, which will be renewed within 12 months. Mr Osborne said he saw the redesigned Ford light-car in FoMoCo's European designe centre three months ago and had high hopes for it here.

Ford's European sales have increased 5.4 per cent this year on the back of strong sales of the new Fiesta, but Mr Osborne said Australia had to wait in line to receive it.

“Capacity and availability from our plants is the reason for the delay – you don’t launch these vehicles simultaneously around the world,” he said.

Meantime, a midlife facelift for the current Focus, which was revealed at the Frankfurt motor show last September, won't come on stream from the South African factory that produces Australia's model for at least 12 months.

The extensive upgrade will comprise a new-look front-end and the introduction of Ford's new double-clutch automated manual transmission, among a host of other changes.

Read more:

First look: Ford surprises with facelifted Focus

First look: Kuga breaks Ford's cover early

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