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The Spaminator
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Ford Australia to develop Chinese car
By Barry Park
October 15, 2010

Ford Australia is set to develop a small car for the Chinese market following the success of the development of the new Ranger ute that will be sold around the world.

Ford Australia is designing a new low-cost small car for the booming Chinese market, after successfully developing a one-tonne ute that will be sold in more than 180 countries.

A Ford insider told Drive the design team had picked up the Chinese project after impressing its US parent with its work on the Figo - a low-cost city car designed specifically for the Indian market - and the Ranger ute, which will be unveiled at today's Australian International Motor Show in Sydney.

It is believed the low-cost Chinese car will be based on an old version of the Fiesta small car. Ford is already testing various small cars at its You Yangs proving ground south-west of Melbourne, one of which was snapped by a spy photographer.

Advertisement: Story continues below The new project continues to shore up the future of Ford's 1000-strong product development workforce in Broadmeadows, Victoria, which is becoming increasingly involved in developing vehicles for overseas markets.

The Ranger ute has been developed and engineered at Broadmeadows and Geelong and is claimed to the largest of its kind undertaken here.

The development work is vital to the future of Ford's local operation, which has seen sales of its locally made vehicles, the Falcon and Territory, dwindle in recent years.

The flagging sales have created uncertainty about the future of the Falcon, which is designed specifically for the local market.

But Ford's Asia-Pacific president, Joe Hinrichs, confirmed the Australian operation would play an instrumental role in the new One Ford, the name given to the car maker's strategy to develop a single vehicle platform for the entire world.

"We're going to continue to utilise our assets and our resources here [in Australia]," Hinrichs said. "We'll continue to use those resources and talent."

"We have a very strong presence here with world class facilities and capabilities," he said.
He refused, however, to confirm any specific projects.

"We've got a lot of work going on but we're not going to disclose it," he said.

Ford Australia president, Marin Burela, said the local operation, one of only half-a-dozen worldwide that can design and engineer a vehicle from scratch, was ideally placed to capitalise on the growth in vehicle sales in the Asia-Pacific region.

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