Ford Australia is about to split the headquarters of its local operations, with its sales, marketing and service teams to move to the inner-Melbourne suburb of Richmond from mid-2015.
The new white collar HQ in Richmond will house about 200 staff. Located close to Melbourne's CBD and associated amenities, Ford says the new base will bring obvious benefits to employee satisfaction. The current Broadmeadows site sits in an industrial region.
At the same time, Ford’s current Broadmeadows base in Melbourne’s outer north — which features its soon-to-close car plant — will be turned into a dedicated ‘product development campus’ occupied by its large research, development and design team.
As such, the company’s current head office will be refurbished to accommodate these different staffers. The established research and testing operations in Geelong, and at the proving ground in Lara, will continue uninterrupted.
All told, Ford will spend about $300 million on its Broadmeadows-based Asia-Pacific Engineering Centre this year, which serves as the hub of product development for the entire Asia Pacific region.
This brings the total to about $2 billion over the past six years, a period that has seen the local team develop the global Ranger and Everest, plus the Indian Figo and Chinese Escort, while also assisting in the testing of multiple other global vehicles.
With about 1500 staff, Ford claims it will be Australia’s largest auto company post-2017, by which time it, Holden and Toyota will all have shuttered their plants. Holden and Toyota will keep smaller design/engineering facilities here.
“The transformation of Ford’s Head Office into the Asia-Pacific Engineering Centre will signal that we will be the only automotive company that can fully develop vehicles in Australia,” said Ford of Australia president and CEO Bob Graziano.
“The national sales company in Victoria Gardens, leveraging our outstanding product line-up, will focus on delivering Australia’s best automotive consumer experience.”
Ford’s Melbourne-based engineering and product development in Asia Pacific director Graydon Reitz added that: “Ford is investing heavily in innovation and our Australian team will be a key part of delivering even more advanced vehicles in the future as one of our four engineering centre’s of excellence globally.
“No other auto company is investing this heavily in Australia.”
The re-jigged corporate structure is the latest step in a process of renewal for Ford as it repositions to become a full-line importer as its FG X Falcon trickles to a sales crawl.
Last week it announced a wide-ranging loan car program as the latest part in its plan to rejuvenate its dealer network and improve performance.