The Ford Australia design studio that was the birthplace of the Ranger and the Ranger Raptor has undergone a multi-million dollar upgrade, with more to come in 2021.
The Melbourne-based Ford Australia design studio has undergone a $12 million upgrade, the studio’s biggest revamp since it was built in the 1970s, and it’s set to benefit from another $2.3 million investment in 2021 to accommodate more than 200 designers who work on Ford vehicles for Australia and global markets.
A total of 2500 engineers, designers, technical and automotive specialists are based at Ford’s Melbourne facility.
“The design studio underwent a minor refurbishment in 2012,” Melbourne-based Max Wolff, Design Director for Ford International Markets Group and China said, adding, “This time around, the whole building has been redesigned. It has been structured around supporting our design process and our team, enabling them to work in a modern, creative environment.”
One of the most significant upgrades will be an extension to the clay-modelling workshop, where full-scale vehicle models are made. This will include a new five-axis milling machine with the ability to move a clay modelling tool or a part in five different axes simultaneously, giving the cutting tool a multi-directional approach.
Clay modelling has been the backbone of vehicle design for years, and it has been given a new lease of life at Ford Australia and its the team of 40 clay modellers. “The new five-axis gantry mill is an interface between the physical and digital worlds, taking information from the computer and quickly and accurately translating it into the physical with a greater level of detail,” Wolff said. “We can also feed that information back into the computer’s digital models.”
The Ford Melbourne design studio is the birthplace of some iconic Fords including the XA, XD and FG Falcons and the Australian-designed and engineered Territory SUV. It is currently the global lead studio for the Ranger ute and Everest wagon, and it has had significant input into the design of vehicles sold in other markets including South America, China and India.
Ford Australia lays claim to being Australia’s largest automotive employer, with more than 2500 engineers, designers, technical and automotive specialists working at four locations throughout Victoria. The company says it has invested more than $1.9 billion in research and development in Australia between 2016 and 2019. In 2020 it invested more than $500 million in R&D and it’s on track to spend a similar amount in 2021.