The man in charge of the Ford Ranger program has been promoted to CEO of Ford Australia, as Kay Hart heads to Europe.
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Ford has appointed its first Australian boss in 10 years – Andrew Birkic – after former CEO Kay Hart was promoted to a new global role based in the UK.

Mr Birkic has been with Ford for more than 26 years; his most recent role was in charge of the new-generation Ford Ranger program.

The appointment will put Ford Australia in a strong position for the arrival of the successor to its biggest-selling model.

CarAdvice understands the new Ford Ranger ute – the nation’s second-best-selling vehicle outright after the Toyota HiLux – is due in Australian showrooms in the second half of 2021 or first half of 2022; start of production is yet to be confirmed.

However, the new model will likely offer a range of new super-efficient and more powerful engines.

The 3.2-litre five-cylinder turbo diesel is expected to be replaced permanently by the 2.0-litre four-cylinder twin-turbo diesel matched to a 10-speed auto. A 3.0-litre V6 turbo diesel is expected to be available as an option on high grade models.

There are unconfirmed reports the new Ford Ranger Raptor will be available with a 3.0-litre turbo V6 petrol from the Ford Explorer ST in the US.

It is unclear if this engine is for the US market only, or if Australia will have the option of one or both petrol and diesel V6 options.

However, CarAdvice understands the new Ford Ranger Raptor could arrive sooner in the model cycle than many fans were expecting.

A media statement issued by Ford Australia said prior to his current role working on Ranger and Everest, Mr Birkic spent three years in Detroit as Global Advanced Consumer Experience Platforms Manager, and two-and-a-half years in Shanghai as Director, Dealer Development and Consumer Experience for Ford Asia-Pacific.

Before this, Mr Birkic held a variety of leadership positions across marketing, sales and the Ford Customer Service Division at Ford Australia, where he began his career in 1994.

“I am thrilled to be re-joining the fantastic team in Australia and New Zealand,” said Mr Birkic in a media statement. “I know how passionate and accomplished the team is, having spent the past two years working with the Ranger and Everest development team to grow the brands across more than 180 markets. I look forward to working closely with our team and dealers to serve our customers.”

Kay Hart will be in charge of Ford’s global van and bus line-up, based in the UK.

In a media statement, Kay Hart said: “I’ve loved my time in Australia and New Zealand. I have every confidence that our Ford team – both employees and dealers – will continue to strive to create an even better experience for our customers and introduce great vehicles to this rapidly evolving market. I am proud of our commitment to Australia, and the work of our 2500-strong team who design and engineer world-class vehicles like the Ranger and Everest and look forward to following their progress in my new role.”

Recent Ford Australia bosses:

Geoff Polites, Australia (1999 to 2004)
Tom Gorman, USA (2004 to 2008)
Bill Osborne, USA (January 2008 to August 2008)
Marin Burela, Australia (2008 to 2010)
Bob Graziano, USA (2010 to 2015)
Graeme Whickman, NZ (from April 2015 to June 2018)
Kay Hart, NZ (July 2018 to August 2020)
Andrew Birkic, Australia (August 2020 onwards)