The Ford Everest due to arrive in Australia later this year is one of the most hotly anticipated new car releases of 2015.
And although production may be happening abroad, the large SUV is for all intents and purposes still ostensibly an Australian car.
That's because over the course of five years, Ford Australia designed, prototyped, tested and planned the Everest from the Ford Design Centre and proving grounds near Melbourne. Just as it did with the Ranger ute.
In fact, you could say that in the same way a BMW X3 is built in the United States but still considered something of a German car, the Thai-made Everest could still very much be classified as an 'Australian' vehicle.
Now, this isn't news, since all that is known already. But it seemed fitting nevertheless, as the local launch nears at last, to give a run-down of Ford Australia's involvement in more detail (see video above for more).
Unlike some other Ford Australia projects of past eras, the Everest has to now compete on a world stage, as with the Ranger that is sold in more than 180 countries. This brings an element of consideration and compromise to the development.
Speaking to CarAdvice recently, Ford Asia-Pacific exterior design manager Dave Dewitt said the Everest design team started with a list of requirements that needed to fit within the body-on-frame ute chassis.
“Being able to balance the requirements of the customer can be challenging and I feel that we have really done that very successfully with the Everest,” he said.
The design and development process has been completed almost end-to-end in Australia, with Dewitt’s team taking the Everest from initial sketch, through small clay model, to three-dimensional CAD model and on to full-size clay mockups.
“The full size model gives you a sense of scale and proportion you cannot get from a computer screen – and allows you to really understand the design,” he added.
Working concurrently with the design teams, Ford Australia’s Victorian-based engineering department utilised a number of ‘mules’ – depicting a Ranger / Territory mashup for environmental and engineering testing.
These pre-production ‘mules’ crossed the Simpson Desert in Central Australia as part of the development process. CarAdvice’s spy photographers even managed to capture one undergoing cold-weather testing as far away as Sweden.
With as many as 20 designers working on the project at any one time, the aesthetic process requires separate interior and exterior teams, as well as a crew devoted to colour and material selection.
And while it is sad to see cars like the Everest not being assembled in Australia, it is testament to our local skill and talent that these important world-market cars are still being designed and developed by Australian teams, as both Ford's Australian Design Centre and Proving Ground will continue utilise Australian expertise for many of Ford's world-market cars.
Unveiled to the world in Bangkok last month, the Everest goes on sale in Australia in the third-quarter of 2015.