Ford announces $103 million investment in local vehicle upgrade

Tue, Jan 10, 2012

DETROIT, US, 9 JAN, 2012 - Ford Motor Company will invest a further $103 million in clean technology and additional upgrades across the locally-produced Falcon and Territory lines; it was announced at the North American International Auto Show today.

The investment will enhance the competitiveness of Falcon and Territory by further reducing CO2 emissions and improving Falcon's already enviable safety profile. The upgraded models will be launched in 2014 and will take Falcon through to at least the end of 2016.

Ford Australia's product line up now offers customers vehicles with enhanced environmental performance and reduced running costs in every segment in which Ford participates, including Fiesta ECOnetic and diesel, Mondeo EcoBoost, Focus diesel, Territory Diesel, Ranger Diesel and Falcon EcoLPi. Falcon EcoBoost will be launched in the first half of 2012.

The investment announcement was made by Ford Asia Pacific and Africa President Joe Hinrichs, Ford Australia President and CEO Bob Graziano and Federal Minister for Manufacturing Senator Kim Carr. The funding includes $34 million from within the existing New Car Plan funding envelope and additional subport from the Victorian State Government.

The announced $103 million investment comes on top of a $232 million sustainability initiative - the biggest environmental overhaul in the history of Falcon and Territory - which is now well advanced.

"Ford Australia's $103 million investment in the design, engineering and manufacture of Falcon and Territory from 2014 continues our focus on providing vehicles with enhanced environmental performance in every segment in which we compete," Mr Graziano said.

"Across our range we are rolling out new smart technologies which improve fuel economy and reduce CO2 emissions while remaining affordable for consumers, through the broader application of diesel engines, smarter powershift transmissions, EcoLPI, and global Ford technologies such as EcoBoost.

"There's no doubt the large car segment is challenging, but it can remain viable if we continue to provide buyers what they want – fuel efficiency, design excellence, and features that enhance safety and the driving experience."

The environmental initiatives are expected to reduce the CO2 footprint of the Falcon by up to a further 5.3 per cent. These initiatives will include:

  • Improved body aerodynamics: A reduction of 7.5 per cent in aero drag through a series of engineering and design enhancements.
  • Advanced low resistance tyres: A rolling resistance reduction of ten per cent through improved tread compound, more advanced hard inner lining and improved tyre technology to provide more even pressure distribution.
  • A new high technology transmission: A new high-technology six-speed transmission will reduce mass and weight as well as provide better acceleration values through significantly reduced reaction times, reduced vibrations and fuel consumption through improved torque conversion, and adaptive shifting which analyses the driver's personal driving style and driving conditions and implements optimal shifting accordingly.

Additional new safety, technology and design features will complement the vehicles' existing five star ANCAP rating and deliver customers a world-class vehicle package. Further details of the program's specific features will be announced closer to launch in 2014.

Mr Graziano said that continually upgrading and improving the CO2 performance of Ford’s local vehicles was the best approach to improving the vehicles' environmental credentials in the short-to-medium term.

"Few single technologies are readily available at a price most consumers can afford that by themselves will provide large reductions in CO2. Rather, we are reducing the CO2 footprint of our range - both domestically-produced and imported - through ongoing engineering and development.

"This $103 million investment is also good news for jobs, as it will provide direct employment for around 300 people during the design and engineering stages as well as supporting jobs and investment across our supply chain."

Mr Graziano said Australia was one of only 13 countries in the world with the capabilities to design, develop and produce vehicles from the ground up, and that it was important to foster this strategic capability or it would have significant impacts on Australia's capacity for innovation excellence.

"Every car manufacturing country in the world receives Government support – most far more than Australia receives – and there are many other countries that are desperate to develop their own auto industries because they know the flow-on impacts it has on education, R&D, skills and jobs, and revenue.

"We appreciate the support of the Federal Government and the Victorian State Government for this initiative and believe the flow-on benefits across the industry will deliver a positive return for all parties."