Both in Australia and globally, Ford is taking the initiative and transforming from being an automotive company, to an automotive and mobility company.
Ford’s shift in thinking towards mobility solutions began more than a decade ago. From a global standpoint, the key turning point came when Bill Ford recruited Alan Mulally to become Ford’s CEO in 2006. At that time, Bill and Alan confronted the situation and knew they had to prepare for an economic downturn, which turned out to be the Global Financial Crisis. To transform the company, Bill and Alan rekindled the company’s innovation mindset to become a leader rather than a fast follower within the industry.
In Australia, Ford confronted the reality that auto-manufacturing was no longer viable locally, and knew as a company, they had to refocus their efforts and invest heavily in innovation.
Australia’s knack for innovation, honed over the past decades, has set Ford Australia up as one of only three Product Development hubs around the Ford world.
“We’re proud to be one of the top-ranking companies for patent submissions worldwide, having lodged 3,200 patents globally in 2016 alone,” commented Graeme Whickman, President and CEO, Ford Australia.
So, in 2014, Ford charted a completely new course to transform into an innovation led company, with research, development and a customer focus at the core of their strategy.
“This coincided with a global push to pursue opportunities, including driving for leadership in connectivity, mobility, and autonomous vehicles,” Mr Whickman said. “As we look to the future, our team here in Australia will play an important role in the innovation happening across the company. Aided by an investment of nearly $2 billion in local research and development since 2009, our Australian team has already led the innovation of popular vehicles such as the Ranger pick-up and Everest SUV.”
These vehicles are loaded with advanced driver assist technologies which help customers drive more confidently and safely. It is also those very same driver assist technologies that are the building blocks for autonomous cars in the future. This is an example of the forward-thinking mind-set underpinning Ford’s vision of the future.
“We’re investing in our people, as well as our facilities, by spending more on research and development than any other automotive company in the country, Mr Whickman continues.
“In 2017 alone, we’ll invest $450 million into research and development in Australia. That’s a 50 per cent increase on 2016. We’ll also spend an additional $50 million on new and upgraded Product Development facilities.
“Our ongoing commitment to high-value R&D is attracting the very best minds in the business, with 1750 of the most innovative designers, engineers and technicians in the country now working at Ford Australia. Our commitment to high-value R&D means that Ford Australia will continue to pursue innovation and cutting edge technology, not only for the benefit of our customers, but for Australia more broadly.”
As the world changes, so is the way we move. Ford is challenging itself to better understand how people live, work, and move in urban areas and how they will do so in the future.
“As a company renowned for democratising the car, we are excited to be playing a lead role in transforming mobility for all in the future, both through our work on autonomous vehicles globally, and some unique thinking around mobility solutions more broadly,” Mr Whickman said. “Together, we will celebrate future thinking as our country realises that change is not only inevitable but critical as we head towards an innovation led economy.”