WHILE Ford Motor Company has announced job cuts from its Product Development (PD) operations in Australia, it will further invest in local research and development (R&D) in 2019, with allocated projects headlined by its next-generation mid-size ute that will be shared with Volkswagen Group.
As part of Ford Motor Company’s move to five global modular platforms, including a single ladder-frame architecture that will have its development led by the US, certain Australian powertrain work will move abroad as part of a global engineering restructuring, “enabling complexity reduction and scale efficiencies”.
This means that 40 salaried, 75 hourly and 90 temporary powertrain engineers will be made redundant, but some workers will be redeployed to the chassis department, while new hires will also be made.
Nonetheless, Ford Motor Company will remain Australia’s largest employer in the automotive sector, with more than 2000 people to remain on staff, including designers, engineers and specialists.
While its local car manufacturing operations ended in October 2016, Ford Motor Company will still invest more than $500 million in Australian R&D this year, although this figure is down from the $574 million that was spent in 2018.
As reported, like many other mid-size utes, the fourth-generation Ranger and second-generation Amarok will be co-developed, with Ford Motor Company to engineer and manufacture the pair that is due as early as 2022.
Ford Asia Pacific’s product development centre – based in Broadmeadows, Geelong and the You Yangs in Victoria – has now been confirmed to have a strategic engineering role in the Ranger-Amarok project, which will be first from the American-German light-commercial vehicle alliance.
Additionally, other new global PD projects will be given to the Australian team, which previously developed the current-generation Ranger that recently returned to the US market after an eight-year hiatus.
Ford Motor Company says the extra work will boost “expertise in advanced electrical engineering, interior and exterior automotive design and engineering, and feature integration”.
In preparation for its heavier workload, Ford Asia Pacific recently completed a $13 million upgrade on the product development centre’s Broadmeadows-based design studio to increase its capacity.
“We are focused on strengthening our Product Development operations to provide the best possible products for our customers, and the Australian-based PD team has a key role to play,” Ford Asia Pacific programs director Dave French said.
“While the focus of our work is shifting, we continue to be world leaders in automotive design and engineering, evidenced by the calibre of work we continue to do in Australia.
Significantly, this announcement also indirectly confirmed that the mid-size Ranger and full-size F-Series utes will share their platform in the future, opening up the door for the latter to be offered in right-hand drive from factory and sold in Australia.
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