The Ford Everest concept has been revealed to preview Ford's new seven-seater SUV that's related on the Ranger ute and expected to go on sale in 2015.
The Everest boasts an uncanny resemblance from some angles to the Ford Territory SUV that will disappear in late 2016 along with the Falcon large car when Ford ceases local manufacturing.
Ford Australia designed and developed the Everest production version as part of the T6 project that initially created the Ranger ute range released in 2011.
Ford insiders, however, have told CarAdvice the Everest production version "only shares elements of the Ranger" and is not as closely based on the Ranger's architecture as had been anticipated.
Sources also say the Ford Everest won't be a direct replacement for the Territory from then end of 2016 onwards, saying the Everest "will be a true off-roader". It will compete directly against models such as the Holden Colorado 7 that shares its underpinnings with the Colorado ute.
“This is our vision for a large, seven-seat off-road SUV to allow our customers to take on the world and it was created by our world-class design team here in Australia,” said Mark Fields, Ford's chief operating officer.
“We believe our customers will love the distinctive design, which clearly showcases the Ford Everest Concept’s exceptional off-road capability and toughness.”
The Ford Everest will form part of an import-only range of vehicles that will number 11 by 2017 in Australia.
The Ford Australia showroom from 2017 onwards will include at least three SUVs in total, also comprising the Indian-built compact Ford EcoSport due in December 2013 and the mid-sized Ford Kuga launched in early 2013.
CarAdvice has been told by insiders the Explorer is unlikely for Australia and believes the next-generation Ford Edge is in the pipeline to become a replacement for the Territory as Ford Australia's large road-biased SUV. Due in 2015, the Edge will switch from being a US market only model to a global vehicle also built in right-hand drive.
Ford sources have already indicated the Explorer SUV is not on the agenda for Australia despite the model being spied driving in Australia.
Ford Australia made a number of announcements at a special Go Further event held at Sydney's Fox Studios.
This included confirmation that the next-generation Ford Mustang muscle car will return to the local market for the first time in nearly 50 years. There was also news about the new Ford Mondeo and Ford Transit.
It also previewed the last ever Ford Falcon ahead of its release in the second half of 2014.