Innovation and technology have always been at the heart of everything we do, but now as we continue our transformation into a leading auto and mobility company of the future, investment in these areas is more vital than ever.
Continuing our legacy of local and global innovation, we are in the process of making several substantial investments in our research and product development facilities across Asia Pacific.
Expansion of Nanjing REC in China
Ten years after its original launch, the Ford Nanjing Research & Engineering Center (REC) continues to grow into a leading technology and innovation hub with an 18,000 square meter-expansion.
The centerpiece of the latest expansion is the sleek new office building housing different functional teams on the REC campus, which was inaugurated in January 2017. Modern and green, the nine-floor building accommodates nearly 1,000 staff, and includes 32 meeting rooms and more than 100 private rooms.
Another exciting development at REC was the launch of MakerSpace 1.0. We transformed a section of the former vehicle component machining shop into a creative space for REC staff to collaborate, brainstorm, and build prototypes of their ideas. With tools such as 3D printers, 3D scanners, plastic forming machines, electronics, and app development software, the MakerSpace is where a lot of our future innovations will first take shape.
As part of the expansion of Ford’s research and engineering capabilities in Nanjing we are also continuing work on the more than $100 million USD vehicle testing center known as “Nanjing Testing Center” or NTC. Scheduled to go online in 2017, the NTC will allow Ford to run 80 different road surface tests that can be tailored to mimic road surfaces and driving conditions in global and local markets.
Investments in Australian Design & Product Development
As part of a $50 million investment to enhance vehicle engineering capability and drive innovation in Australia, Ford’s former head office in Melbourne has recently been transformed into the Asia Pacific Product Development Center. With state-of-the-art virtual design and engineering capability, the center will be the crown jewel of Australia’s most advanced automotive development campus.
Also with this $50 million investment, we are also expanding and enhancing other key facilities. These include the expansion of the Design Studio, the creation of a new MakerSpace, upgrades to our emissions testing laboratory, and new test facilities at the Lara Proving Ground site outside Geelong.
In addition to these investments in infrastructure, we are also increasing our Australian R&D investment in 2017 by 50 percent to $450 million in support of increased vehicle development programs. With an eye always on the future, Ford continues to help develop the next generation of engineers and designers; most recently by raising $300,000 to expand student robotics programs in partnering schools in Australia.
Global Technology and Business Center in India
In late 2016, Ford also announced plans to build a new Global Technology and Business Center in Chennai that will serve as a central hub for product development, mobility solutions and business services for India and other markets around the world.
With an investment of $195 million (Rs.1,300 crore), the new center in Chennai will include a dedicated PD center, which will be Ford’s third product development center in Asia Pacific and 10th globally. As well as housing engineering talent, this center will be home to employees from IT, finance, accounting, data analytics and manufacturing, which ultimately helps to democratize innovation.
Located on a sprawling 28-acre campus, with 2.5 million square feet of floor space, the new Global Technology and Business center will also feature a MakerSpace to promote collaboration between employees and facilitate the creation of future innovations.
“These new facilities will allow us to enhance and build upon the skills and capabilities we already have in Asia Pacific,” said Product Development vice president for Asia Pacific Trevor Worthington. “Each of these investments is designed to provide the right environment to inspire collaboration, creative thinking and engineering and design excellence.”