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Final Ford Falcon facelift still being tweaked

Last hurrah: Ford's Asia Pacific and Africa design director Joel Piaskowski is looking beyond 2016, but says final touches are still being made on next year's final Falcon facelift.

Ford’s local design chief says company is still tinkering on final Falcon facelift

21 Jun 2013

FORD’S local design chief Joel Piaskowski’s body clock might still be on US summer time, but that’s not holding him back as he puts the finishing touches to what will be the world’s final Falcon.

Having only arrived in Australia in January as Ford’s director of design for Asia Pacific and Africa, Mr Piaskowski appears to have slipped straight into the country and the job.

A job, he says, which encompasses some last-minute tweaks to the facelifted Falcon due in the second half of 2014, destined to be the last of the line when Ford stops manufacturing here in October 2016.

“It’s really great to be here,” he told GoAuto. “It’s a car country with a car culture... and that’s what makes it exciting.”

Having been born and raised in Michigan, not far from Detroit, he feels right at home here. And some familiar sights on the road help build his comfort levels.

“What’s really neat is to see the amount of Mustangs, classic Mustangs, driving around, both left hand drive and right hand drive.”

A veteran of 21 years in automotive design, Mr Piaskowski had worked at General Motors, Hyundai and Mercedes-Benz before he was appointed as Ford’s director of exterior design for the Americas in 2010.

Although the (already announced) facelifts for the last Falcon and Territory models were set when he arrived in Australia earlier this year, he has been able to have some influence.

“When I came on, the design was set and we’ve just been working on the delivery and the commercialisation process of it.”

But there is still some tinkering being done, he admitted.

“We are still designing elements of it, details of it. We had a big design review today, actually, on the tail lamp. There were lots of opinions.”

He said there would also be a mild facelift for what will be the last Territory, and that is also being wrapped up right now.

Mr Piaskowski said there would still be plenty of work for the design studio to do after the last Australasia-only models were completed. Ford Australia president and CEO Bob Graziano has previously confirmed the company will retain a research and design presence here beyond the plant closures.

“The core responsibilities of the local studio are for the Asia/Pacific, so when there are programs specifically for the region, they will be coming through the studio at Broadmeadows,” said Mr Piaskowski.

In addition, the Broadmeadows studio will be competing with the other Ford Design studios around the world for a wide range of projects.

The other studios are in the US (Dearborn), Germany (Cologne), England (London and Dunton), Brazil (Camacari) and China (Shanghai).

As we reported from India last month, Ford’s Chinese-based Asia-Pacific passenger vehicle and SUV programs director Trevor Worthington – a former vice-president of product development of Ford Australia – said the local R&D centre was fully booked, and could perhaps even justify taking on extra staff.

Although Ford Australia scored a big hit with the rebodied Fiesta called Figo in India, where it went to number one on the sales charts, there is no guarantee that the studio will do the next Figo.

“We operate globally,” said Mr Piaskowski. “We have global design competitions, and three or four times a year the global design directors gather at various studios and have design discussions.

“Through these design competitions, it really helps to elevate the global design studio level. Each studio feeds off the other studio and it raises the game within Ford Design and, ultimately, the company benefits.

“Numerous vehicles have been, if not designed from here, have been heavily influenced by the design talent and resources from the studio here.”“It’s really being able to bubble up or bring out the best of design within our global portfolio of studios to funnel the best ideas into the end products.

“There are numerous products around the globe that have started in various studios but ultimately it goes through the filters of Ford Design management and product development organisation to hit the market.”

The comparatively small local design centre led the development of the global Ranger ute, and also had significant design input on the Chinese-market Escort concept revealed in Shanghai last April.

It has also working on a rugged SUV version of the Ranger – prototypes of which have now been seen on Melbourne roads.

The Australian-based engineers and designers have also been involved in the highly anticipated next-generation Mustang, a global program – including right-hand drive – due to reach production in 2015.

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