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Ford Ranger’s new ‘home’ now at full throttle

Home on the Ranger: Ford’s former Australian headquarters has entered a new era as Asia-Pacific Product Development Centre.

Old Ford Australia HQ reborn as epicentre for global Ranger engineering

Ford logo18 May 2017

By RON HAMMERTON

FORD’S former Australia headquarters in Broadmeadows, Victoria, is now in full swing in its new role as the Ford Asia-Pacific Product Development Centre.

Refurbished as part of a $50 million investment in new R& D facilities in Australia, the renovated modernist office block – a landmark on Sydney Road on Melbourne’s northern fringe since the 1960s – the building’s four storeys are now 95 per cent occupied with more than 600 engineers and associated staff masterminding the new-generation Ford Ranger, Everest and other products.

The building’s rebuild, which involved removal of asbestos, among other works, was officially “opened” last December by Ford Motor Corporation president Mark Fields and Australian industry, innovation and science minister Greg Hunt.

At that time, only a portion of the building was ready for occupation, including a basement section housing a new virtual reality driving laboratory, dubbed the Cave.

Since then, the fitout has been completed and engineering teams have moved in to the premises occupied previously by Ford Australia senior management, along with sales, marketing, public relations and administration teams, all of whom have moved to new premises in the inner Melbourne suburb of Richmond.

Once the spiritual home to Ford’s all-Australian Falcon, the building is now the spiritual home to the Ford Ranger and its SUV spin-off, the Everest, which are developed in Australia for global markets.

A large number of the employees there belong to the Ranger/Everest programming and planning teams.

The building that was dedicated by then Australian prime minister Sir Robert Menzies in 1961 as Ford built its new Falcon factory directly behind it, is also home to the vehicle evaluation and verification team, as well the electrical and electronics systems engineering team.

These vehicle development groups are supported by product development finance and program purchasing staff, along with administrators looking after human resources, IT and purchasing.

Despite the apparent size of the operation, the building houses less than half of Ford Asia-Pacific Product Development’s Australian staff of up to 1750.

Designers are housed in studios behind the engineering headquarters, while other engineers and technicians are housed in other buildings at the Broadmeadows site, at the You Yangs proving ground at Lara and at Geelong.

This year, Ford has budgeted a record $450 million for R&D operations in Australia – a 50 per cent increase on 2016.

The rise reflects the extra workload for the local team as it prepares new-generation Ranger and Everest models for world markets that will include North America and China for the first time.

The new-generation Ranger/Everest platform will also provide the basis for a re-born Ford Bronco SUV.

And if that wasn’t enough, the Ford engineering team is also working on a heavily revised Figo light car for Ford of India and its export destinations in mainly developing markets.

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