Ford on Two Continents

Gary S. Vasilash

Last week Ford sent out a press release that opens, “Ford Australia has announced a new strategic direction for the company, including significant investment in new projects and accompanying facilities, totaling more than AUD1.8 billion over the next decade.”

Sounds good, doesn’t it?

It went on to explain that Ford Australia, which is an engineering and design center of excellence for the Asia Pacific and Africa region, would be getting increased responsibility, as in having the lead on the design and engineering of a new architecture for a light commercial vehicle that will be available in more than 80 countries.

In addition to which, it will continue to work on its Falcon and Territory, sedan and crossover, for Australian and other markets.

Ford of Australia Broadmeadows Manufacturing Plant

Inside Ford Australia Broadmeadows Assembly

The not-so-good news from Ford last week vis-à-vis Australia: Come October 2016, it will no longer be manufacturing products in the country. Broadmeadows Assembly and Geelong Stamping and Engine plants will be closed.

Design and engineering: Yes. Manufacturing: No.

Clearly, as the company works to leverage its global resources, there is some shifting of capabilities. Some are reduced while some are enhanced.

Which got us wondering about other countries.

So we thought about one on the other side of the world, but in the same hemisphere: Brazil.

And there Ford seems to be maintaining a robust presence there.

Ford Ecosport

Ford EcoSport: Designed in Brazil

It has a design studio in Camaçari, where the new EcoSport, a crossover for some 100 global markets, was created.

There is Camacari Assembly in Bahia, where the Fiesta and EcoSport are built. There is another assembly plant in São Bernardo do Campo, São Paulo, where the Ka, Courier and cargo trucks are built. There are both engine and transmission plants in Taubate, São Paulo.

Although Ford struggled in South America in the first quarter of 2013, the company expects to break even there for the entire year. Apparently Venezuela and Argentina are presenting challenges to profitability, not Brazil.

Bottom line: shifts in capabilities to address market needs is the new normal in the auto industry.