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Ford expands proving ground facilities

Henry’s shed: Builders have moved into Ford’s You Yangs proving ground to start construction on this mystery addition to the engineering facilities there.

New facility for Ford’s Australian proving ground as Blue Oval gets on with business

23 Oct 2015

FORD Australia is putting its money where its mouth is in its Asia-Pacific vehicle development operation, building a large new addition to its facilities at the You Yangs proving ground near Geelong, in Victoria.

The company recently has been trumpeting its investment in research and development in Australia as it winds down its manufacturing operations to its ultimate demise next year.

The proof of the engineering expansion is evident in our photograph of the large office building that has sprung up in recent weeks near Ford’s noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) testing centre and Ranger engineering centre behind the fences at the high-security proving ground.

Ford today confirmed that it is a new office building to replace ageing offices for the engineering teams at the centre.

The large steel and concrete building, which is nearing completion, dwarfs most of the surrounding buildings, and is visible from surrounding roads.

Ford Australia communications and public affairs director Wes Sherwood told GoAuto: “As you know Ford has invested nearly $2 billion in R&D (research and development) in Australia the past six years, including work under way at the proving ground to replace aging office infrastructure and ensure our product development teams are located in the right places for their work,” he said.

“While we cannot discuss specific projects, our goal continues to be driving innovation in all aspects of our business.”

Engineers, test drivers and technicians at the proving ground have been working seven days a week and well into the night on multiple projects for Ford’s global operation.

The new building is just the latest development at the proving ground where Ford has invested in new test tracks and resurfacing of existing roads in recent years.

The expansion appears to have included a parcel of land acquired from a farm to the east of the proving ground, apparently to add a new track for testing vehicle stability.

Much of the money invested at the proving ground in recent years was triggered by Ford Australia’s lead role in the development of the Ford Ranger and its SUV spin-off, the Everest.

The Chinese-market Ford Taurus and Escort small car and the Indian-built Figo have been other vehicles masterminded by the Australian-based Ford development team spread around facilities at Campbellfield, Geelong and the You Yangs proving ground.

Ford Australia president and CEO Graeme Whickman recently said Ford will become Australia’s largest auto industry employer by 2018 as the industry transitions from manufacturing.

The Ford team will include about 1500 employees, many of them highly skilled professionals such as engineers and designers.

Ford will wind up its manufacturing next year, with Toyota and Holden to follow suit about one year later.

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