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Oz now Ford’s global low-cost experts

Aussie know-how: Ford Australia designers and engineers solved the problems of presenting a quality citycar at low cost.

Successful Figo program opens fresh development opportunities for Ford Australia

Ford logo25 Apr 2011


FORD’S senior product boss has revealed that Australia is now at the epicentre of an effective, quality, low-cost vehicle development program for the company worldwide.

Dubbed the Value Enabled Strategy and devised with the help of teams of Australian engineers and designers, it enables vehicles within the One Ford global framework to be remade relatively inexpensively, meeting low-price goals of certain markets without the vehicle losing key brand attributes common to all Fords.

Derrick Kuzak, Ford’s group vice-president of global product development, praised the Broadmeadows team at the New York International Auto Show last week in the wake of the Figo’s spectacular success in India over the last 12 months.

Designed and developed in Australia primarily as a low-cost family car, the Figo is a B-segment light car based on the previous-generation European Fiesta and is manufactured in Chennai, India.

Sales have now soared past 80,000 units, making the car Ford’s most successful – as well as most awarded – vehicle in India of all time.

By the end of this year it will also be available in Mexico, the Middle East, North Africa and the Caribbean.

Mr Kuzak said the team at Broadmeadows were now the ‘go-to guys’ for low-cost vehicle development.

As well as Figo, Ford Australia developed the T6 Ranger and Mazda BT-50 light truck, and is also leading development of a still-secret light car for China.

27 center imageMr Kuzak’s remarks come after Ford Asia Pacific and Africa engineering director Jim Baumbick told GoAuto at this month’s SZ Territory launch that his department was running “flat out” with development work on a host of future models.

They include vehicles that may not even be sold in Australia.

“Without talking about vehicle specifics, all of this (activity) – and obviously the Australian team was a leader in this work – taught us something really, really important,” said Mr Kuzak.

“The Figo achieved a price point in the Indian market (yet) it is clearly a Ford in the way it looks, feels and the way it drives.

“It is consistent with our DNA, but at a price point that is at the heart of the Indian market. And it is that price point where we went from zero share to three per cent share in one year because of one vehicle.

“What Figo did was take previous generation Fiesta parts and, through localisation and aligning the specifications to Indian customers’ needs, it delivered that vehicle … by that we mean achieving quietness (and) to be a leader in quietness in India does not require the same sound package you need for Australia or Europe or North America.

“We also committed to being a leader in craftsmanship – and the basic ambience of our interiors. In Australia, that requires a soft-touch instrument panel, but in India it does not. It requires a great-looking grain.

“What that has led us to is ‘value-enabled strategy’ and what that means is we now have learned how to take our global vehicles and global platforms, and through ‘plug and play’ align the global vehicles to market requirements – the Indias, Chinas and Brazils of this world – and totally be aligned with our global One Ford strategy by having vehicles unmistakably Ford in their DNA but at the heart of their price points.

“With the Figo, the Australian team taught us how to do that. That’s why the (Ford Australia team) are all smiling.”

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