Of those, 17 have secured ongoing work with Ford’s global operations, improving on an initial list of nine suppliers that had been confirmed in 2014.
Among those will be MTM and Futuris, who will continue to supply aftermarket parts for the Falcon and Territory, while another supplier - Carbon Revolution - has today inaugurated a new manufacturing facility in the Victorian city of Geelong, where it will produce carbon-fibre wheels for the new Shelby GT350R Mustang.
The facility, located near the Carbon Nexus site of Ford’s carbon-fibre research with Deakin University, was developed partly as a result of the Geelong Region Innovation and Investment Fund, formed by Ford together with the Victorian and Federal governments.
In forming the fund, Ford contributed $10 million to create economic activity in the areas most affected by the company’s transition from manufacturing to a full-import structure.
”While many people believe the auto industry is closing in Australia, Ford is actually investing $300 million in R&D in Australia this year alone - and our partnership with Carbon Revolution is an example of what can happen as we continue to innovate here,” Ford Australia President and CEO, Graeme Whickman, said.
“As we move to a new phase in the Australian automotive landscape, enabling our supplier network to grasp new technology opportunities will be good for Australia, including our existing manufacturing team members who are seeking new opportunities and those tertiary students wishing to have a career in the auto industry.”
Whickman said that Geelong will remain an important part of the local auto industry, although the role of businesses in the area will focus more on innovation than “hands-on work”.
“This type of development [the opening of Carbon Revolution’s facility] shows that there is potential for the ongoing sustainment of a high-tech supplier industry here in Victoria,” he said.
Ford has previously confirmed a goal of becoming the Australian automotive industry’s largest employer by 2018, in a plan that will include around 1500 staff in engineering and design roles.
Whickman reaffirmed that goal today: “Ford is absolutely committed to serving our customers with world-class vehicles with advanced technologies and innovative features,” he said.
“We plan to continue this momentum by investing more in R&D in Australia and around the world, which ultimately will help us bring our customers 20 more new vehicles by 2020.”
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