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Lines are now open at Ford

Deeper understanding: Ford Motor Company executive chairman Bill Ford.

Communication between Ford Australia and the US is now clearer after Bill's visit

Ford logo21 Nov 2006

THE Bill Ford message is simple: keep doin' what you are doin'.

After his whirlwind visit two weeks ago to lay the foundation stone for Ford's new Geelong-based research and development centre, Ford Australia president Tom Gorman said last week that the visit by the Ford supremo achieved its goal.

Mr Gorman said Bill Ford's visit to Australia – his first – achieved several things.

"What we wanted to get out of it was a clear communication of what Ford Australia is all about and that really means a deep technical understanding of what our capabilities are here and the type of cars we're capable of building," Mr Gorman said.

"As you can imagine we have our product in North America but it's hard to get a good feel for a car when you do that."Mr Ford spent some time here in a technical briefing, which included driving all of Ford's local vehicles.

"We took him through what we're doing with the platform that we build here," Mr Gorman said. "We took him with the T6 program (Ford's light commercial ute designed for world markets) and where that is in gestation and what's happening there. He got a good understanding of that."Mr Gorman said Mr Ford handled the Australian visit well, including probing questions from Ford's local executives on the global company's performance and future.

"I give him a lot of credit. This isn't the easiest time for us. Everyone wants to take a shot at Ford," Mr Gorman said. "He didn't cancel the trip. He knew what we were in the midst of doing here as a company he knew we were in the middle of our down balance but he still wanted to come."Mr Gorman said it was also clear that despite Ford's global woes Mr Ford had clearly outlined the company's future.

"Bill came down talking about the future," he said. "We do think there is a robust future and we have a market strategy for that future but clearly the marketplace today is throwing a lot of challenges in our direction.

"I think with Bill, from where he sits, he's big enough to understand there is a future with design, development and testing here in Australia.

"The strategy for us is to move up the value chain and not just be an assembler of cars."Mr Gorman believes Mr Ford's visit helped clarify Ford Australia's need to build cars for export as well as the local operations being a competitive source of engineering for the world.

"We wanted to expose Bill to that and he got a pretty good understanding of what we’re all about," he said.

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