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Ford Oz R&D people “gainfully employed”

Project time: Ford's local designers can keep their pens uncapped for the foreseeable future.

Asia/Pacific boss confirms designers and engineers at Ford Australia have plenty on

15 Aug 2013

FORD has reiterated its commitment to keeping almost 1100 staff in work at its Victorian design and engineering centres, but is staying quiet on what international projects it has in the pipeline.

At its ‘Go Further’ event in Sydney this week, Ford Motor Company group vice president and Asia/Pacific chief David Schoch confirmed “gainful employment” up to and beyond local manufacturing shutdown for all of the nearly 1100 design and engineering personnel stationed at the company’s Broadmeadows, Geelong, and You Yangs facilities in Victoria.

And while refusing to reveal what the next big project is or will be, Mr Schoch underlined the commitment the Blue Oval brand has made here over the past six years since 2008.

Calling Ford’s $1.9 billion investment in the research and development centres as the largest ever undertaken in the automotive sector in Australia, the Shanghai-based operations boss for all things Asia/Pacific revealed that there will be more to come to help renew the brand’s fleet globally beyond the Falcon and Territory’s demise in October 2016.

They will be part of 11 passenger, SUV, and commercial vehicles slated for sale in Australia by 2017 – up from six cars now if you don’t include the soon-to-be-phased out Falcon, Ute and Territory.

 center imageLeft: David Schoch.

Speaking to GoAuto Media at the company’s future product showcase in Sydney this week, Mr Schoch declined to go into specifics, but did suggest that an announcement would be made in due course according to where the vehicle is in its lifecycle development.

“Melbourne is just one of four design and engineering pillars in the Ford world today,” he said.

“There’s Europe and North and South America as well, and they all work in a very harmonious way even though they are all so far away. But the connectivity we have, and the ability to work across time zones, has become much easier by being at the end of a wire.

“It’s a challenge, but we’ve got engineers all over the world working on vehicles, and the important thing to remember is that design and engineering will continue to be a very, very important part (of Ford Australia). And not just for Australia but also for the region.”

Asked if an Australian-led program such as the T6 Ranger truck and its newly announced Everest SUV sister would be repeated any time soon, Mr Schoch replied that there is no shortage of work right now for the Broadmeadows and Geelong-based development employees.

“I can’t speculate, but when the times comes, you can rest assured that Ford Australia’s designers and engineers will be gainfully employed working on future programs for Ford globally.

“And the beauty of this is, as we think about our engineering resources and talent around the world, we can move projects to where they’re best suited.

“(Consider) our cycle programs – you know, where you get one vehicle done and then move on to another project: by utilising our four global centres, we can move the work around that best fits where those skills are. Just look at what (Ford Australia) did with Figo.

“We’ve shared with you what Ford has invested in Australia over the last six years, as well as our more recent investments for this year, so we’re topping up our abilities to test and to homologate. The Lara (You Yangs) proving ground is world class, and it continues to keep up our product quality there. We’ve invested in new road surfaces, for example.”

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