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Next Ranger development set to stay in Melbourne

Aussie connection: The facelifted Ranger ute made its debut this week in Bangkok, and Ford Australia is tipped to be already at work on its replacement.

Ford Australia will continue to design and develop the Ranger beyond this generation

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Ford logo25 Mar 2015

By BYRON MATHIOUDAKIS in BANGKOK

FORD has given the strongest indication yet that Australia will once again lead the development of the next-generation Ranger, that is expected to be on sale by the end of this decade.

While timing and the extent of development are not yet known, it is likely that both the design and engineering for the T6 replacements – including the one-tonne truck and its eventual Everest seven-seater SUV sibling – are well under way at Ford Australia’s headquarters in Campbellfield, in Melbourne's north.

Speaking with GoAuto at the Bangkok International Motor Show this week, Ford vehicle line director for Ranger and Everest Richard Tilley said that the Blue Oval brand’s light-truck expertise and experience is now firmly entrenched in Melbourne, suggesting there is no reason why future development would not continue, especially given the Ranger’s critical and commercial success.

“The product development centre will stay in the Asia-Pacific centre in Melbourne,” he revealed at the PX Series II Ranger's global unveiling in Thailand. “And obviously that’s very important for that product development centre to sustain that. We have a full cycle plan keeping the workforce there fully loaded through to the near future.

“Obviously what happens beyond that, we only can see that we’ve got a fully loaded workforce, and obviously we are very confident that what we’ve done on the Ranger that we can secure the team, and at the moment the team from there, myself included, has come from outside to join the team in Melbourne, and we’re travelling the world now launching it in the different plants, and hopefully on the back of that then we’ll move on to the next, and then the next, and the next.”

While Mr Tilley would not be drawn into speculation about further Ranger-based developments, such as the short-wheelbase T6 cab-chassis prototype spied by GoAuto photographers earlier in March, he said that Ford is committed to meeting buyers’ needs in every market the Ranger is available.

“We do many things in terms of design and development, but I will not make any comment on what we are doing in the future,” he said.

“Obviously we designed the Ranger with a very wide spectrum with many customers in mind. We’re showing you the XLT today. Soon we will show you the Wildtrak.

“And obviously there’s more also for other markets, so we will try and broaden the spectrum as wide as we can, and see how to continue to satisfy every customer, from the very base tradesman through to the very highest level. We will try and get as much as we can out of the Ranger to broaden that base.

“But I won’t make any comments on what specific derivatives that we may do in the future.”

It is likely the next Ranger and Everest will continue to be built in Thailand for the ASEAN markets, including Australia and New Zealand. Currently, the T6 is also made in Argentina and South Africa.

Working on a seven- or eight-year timetable typical of the one-tonne brigade, expect to see the next-generation Ranger as soon as 2018. The existing T6-series PX was unveiled globally at the now-defunct Australian International Motor Show in Sydney in October 2010.

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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.