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Ford commits to right steering, can extend the range of reproduction

Ford won’t follow General Motors in abandoning much of the factory’s right-wheel drive production, although like its competition, it may consider offering a wider range of vehicles suitable for all-wheel drive. car on the right.

“We are not going out of the right-hand driveway. We know they’re important. We could have done it a little differently,” Ford CFO John Lawler told the media, including CarExpert, this early year.

“But, is it becoming more of a financial challenge? It’s different now, because it’s scale and I think the opportunity for us is to move towards specialized vehicles.”

That points to the possibility of expanding remanufactured right-hand drive (RHD) systems, which Ford will start locally with F-150 in 2023.

The full-size pickup will be remanufactured by RMA Automotive with a right-hand drive, which will see Ford follow in the footsteps of rivals like Ram 1500 and Chevrolet Silverado in providing a factory-supported RHD option.

“Can we do something other than the F-150? I think this opportunity to work with RMA Automotive really presents an opportunity for us, not only Australia but also a number of other right-hand drive markets,” said Dianne Craig, president of the International Markets Group which includes Australia. said.

“[This] was our first step in understanding what we could do, not only in Australia, but in other markets as well.

“It’s all about scale, and with Ranger and Everest, we’re getting scale.”

These vehicles are offered in many global markets, including Thailand, South Africa and Australia.

Ford is working with RMA Automotive to ensure the F-150 meets its standards, as opposed to conversions by other local companies with which the company is not involved and therefore does not warrant in-house vehicles. machine.

The company said it has reviewed Maverick drives on the rightwhile Bronco and Bronco Sport are right-hand drive capabilities once Ford can clear its backlog – whether they will be factory RHD or remanufactured remains unclear.

The Mustang Mach-E However, it looks like it will eventually come to Australia, as it is made in RHD at the factory and is already sold in RHD markets such as the UK.

Blue Oval maintains a stronger presence in right-hand drive markets than its US counterpart General Motors, as it still sells factory right-hand drive vehicles in significant numbers in markets such as the UK. and Thailand.

But the challenge for Ford remains to continue to scale for a given vehicle when there are fewer right-hand drive markets than left-hand drive markets and distinct tastes – Everest Moutainfor example, not sold in the UK, while Focus recently fall here.

The company has left the old One Ford policy, with greater regionalization.

It calls this the “evolution” of the old policy, which saw vehicles sold in a multitude of markets with only detailed changes – for example, global models such as the previous generation. by Fiesta, Focus and Mondeo.

For example, the Fiesta has been produced in more than half a dozen countries.

Today, Ford sells a wide range of vehicles specifically designed for China that, while using global platforms, feature a unique “headwear” – a term that means everything plays a role. background of a car.

Mr. Lawler said that unique cars are needed as the Chinese market leads in digital experiences in cars, noting that these vehicles will “certainly” have to be specific to the requirements of the automotive industry. each market.

“We had a great business in China thanks to our global products, but the Chinese market has changed dramatically and expectations in the Chinese market cannot be met,” Mr. Lawler said. purely by global products”.

Ford of Europe will produce its own regional vehicles with a pair of vehicles based on the Volkswagen MEB electric vehicle architecture. No plans have been announced to offer these in other markets.

A large number of Ford’s North American vehicles are not sold in Europe and Australia, including the Bronco and Bronco Sport.

American automaker GM only sells Chevrolet Corvette in the RHD plant, and has since withdrawn from countless markets. For example, they sold off the European brands Opel and Vauxhall, closed Holden and sold the factory in Thailand.

The former Chrysler Corporation also essentially retreated from the right-handed markets in the 1980s, although it was active in the 1990s.

Now part of the French-American giant Stellantis, it has multiple brands offering factory right-drive vehicles, with Abarth, Alfa Romeo, Citroen, Fiat, Maserati and Peugeot selling cars in Australia. .

Its legacy American brands are less visible here. Chrysler recently pulled out of Australia and Dodge has yet to return as they lack any RHD products, but Jeep maintains and sells a wide range of RHD vehicles.

Jeep CEO Christian Meunier confirms Right-hand drive is part of the brand’s broader electrification plan and, when asked if this applies to every model, he replied, “pretty much”.

“The driving strategy on the right is very clear. We are investing in Japan, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa which is becoming quite a serious market for us now. So we’re going back to Australia, South Africa,” he said.

“The right steering wheel is the key. We can be profitable when we go on the right hand side. As long as you bring the right product with the right powertrain in the right segments. “

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