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Spied: Chinese Ford Taurus under test

Top test: The Australian-developed Ford Taurus that was launched exclusively in China two years ago is back under test in Australia, as evidenced by roof-top devices.

Ford’s Australian engineers test new technologies on Chinese Taurus and Everest


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27 Jun 2017

CHINA’S version of the Ford Taurus is back on the development trail in Australia, with test equipment sprouting from the roof of this current-model engineering car spotted on public roads near Ford Asia-Pacific Product Development’s You Yangs proving ground in Victoria.

The undisguised left-hand-drive large sedan seen here was travelling in convoy with a right-hand-drive Ford Everest similarly adorned with roof-top test devices, indicating that Ford engineers are working on technologies to be applied to at least two large passenger vehicles bearing the blue oval badge.

Chinese Taurus test cars bearing roof-top test gear have also been spotted around Detroit recently, although the device on the US test mules is smaller and set to one side of the roof.

Those American sightings led to rumours that Ford is planning to dump the ageing North American Taurus and replace it with an imported version from China.

The rumour was given another run last week when Ford announced it is preparing to import its next Focus small car from China from 2019.

Ford’s North American executives are on record as saying they have no plans to import the Chinese Taurus that sits on a stretched version of Ford’s CD4 front/all-wheel-drive platform that also underpins models such as the Fusion and Mondeo.

However, they are yet to say if they are planning to replace the US-spec, Chicago-built Taurus that rides on a platform shared with the superseded Volvo S80. Sales of this car have been dwindling in recent years, in line with the falling appetite for large sedans and rising demand for SUVs in North America.

The test mules seen in Australia and the US all have a Chinese-script badge on the boot saying Changan Ford – the Chinese-Ford joint venture in western China.

The Chinese Taurus with its limo-sized rear seat was designed and developed in Australia exclusively for the Chinese market where it was unveiled at the 2015 Shanghai motor show ahead of a showroom launch in late 2015 as a 2016 model.

Manufactured by Changan Ford in Chongqing and powered by a choice of V6 and four-cylinder petrol engines, the Taurus is sold as chauffeur-driven transport for executives, particularly high-ranking public officials.

By 2018, the current model will have been around for three years and likely due for an update.

The vehicles in our pictures are probably testing technologies to be applied to the Taurus and other Ford vehicles in future updates.

These technologies will include more autonomous driving and anti-collision aids, although it is unclear what the engineers are testing here.

Ford Asia Pacific Product Development Centre recently installed a special autonomous driving technology test area at the proving ground near Lara, south-west of Melbourne, as part of a major investment in new facilities.

The organisation received a 50 per cent funding boost this year, to $450 million for 2017, to cope with a big increase in engineering and design tasks undertaken by the Australian team.

Much of the focus is on the all-new Ranger and Everest due in 2019 and 2020 respectively, with the new Ranger destined for the North American market for the first time.

A related Bronco SUV – most likely based on Everest – is also under development, although GoAuto understands this vehicle has considerable US input.

A facelifted version of the current Ranger is also running around the proving ground, and we suspect this version will go into production next year in Thailand for Asian markets, including China which is getting Ranger for the first time in 2018.

If all that was not enough, Australian engineers have been spotted testing Figo light sedans and hatches for Ford of India, as well as a Chinese-spec Focus.

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