Inside Ford's top secret You Yangs test track

#hashtags: #TAGS #Ford #Yangs #December 2015 #Joshua Dowling #CarsGuide #Cars #Ford You Yangs #Geelong #Supplied

TAGS Ford Industry news Inside Ford's top secret You Yangs test track 9 December 2015 by Joshua Dowling · CarsGuide Cars being tested inside Ford You Yangs test track near Geelong. Picture: Supplied. Cars being tested inside Ford You Yangs test track near Geelong. Picture: Supplied. Cars being tested inside Ford You Yangs test track near Geelong. Picture: Supplied. Cars being tested inside Ford You Yangs test track near Geelong. Picture: Supplied. We take a rare look inside the facility that torture tests new cars years before they arrive in showrooms.This place is a revhead’s dream. There are so many cool cars to look at, you don’t know where to start.We’re behind the tall barbed-wire fences and inside Ford’s top secret test track near the You Yang mountain ranges not far from Geelong.Despite being miles from anywhere there is a traffic jam of cars inside, being put through their paces.We’d love to show you, but the problem is photos are not allowed and our phones have been confiscated.This place has a bigger lockdown policy than a military facility because of all the top secret models -- years away from showrooms -- being torture tested on the labyrinth of roads, water crossings and a high speed oval.Before long, it’s easy to see why. Aside from the next generation Ford sedans planned for China, the car park is full of interesting brand-new vehicles -- from rival brands.There is the US version of the Toyota Tacoma ute (the North American HiLux), the US version of the Chevrolet Colorado pick-up, and then we spotted a couple of Toyota Camry sedans and a Toyota Yaris hatch.In the next parking lot was a vast array of cars from China -- wearing Suzuki and Fiat badges.They are all benchmark vehicles so Ford can see how it’s current and future models are tracking against the competition -- years ahead of launch.All car companies do this. It’s the reason most new models tend to leap frog their peers. Occasionally, some cars go backwards during development, but it wouldn’t be polite to list those here (well, aside from maybe the Daewoo-derived Holden Barinas in the mid-2000s that replaced the European models).The rival US pick-ups are here because the next generation of the Ford Ranger ute -- designed and engineered in Australia but built in Thailand -- will also be made in Detroit from 2018 onwards.It’s a sign of the growing ute market globally, but also a massive compliment to the Ford Australia team.Ford’s sacred ground that has developed every Falcon since 1965 -- the facility was built after the 1960s Falcons, based on a US design but made locally, crumbled in harsh Australian conditions -- is now home to Ford’s Asia-Pacific test base. Most of the cars found here will end up being built and sold overseas.We’re working on multiple programs and we never talk about what we’re working onFord will continue to employ more than 1200 designers and engineers in Australia after its factories close in October — but they will be developing cars for China rather than homegrown vehicles.This will bring Ford’s total workforce, including head office staff to 1500, one of the largest automotive employers in Australia.Trevor Worthington, who was formerly responsible for developing the latest Falcon sedans and the new Territory SUV, is now the head of Ford’s Asia-Pacific engineering operations.When asked if he was proud of the skills that Australians designers and engineers can continue to contribute to Ford cars sold overseas, he told News Corp Australia in April: “Of course we’re proud, we’re proud of all the things we do.”He was attending the unveiling of the new Ford Taurus at the Shanghai motor show.The vehicle will be built and sold in China but it was designed and developed from the ground up in Australia.When asked if the new Ford, which adopts the US name of Taurus, was the “spiritual successor” to the Falcon, Mr Worthington said: “We’ve designed it absolutely specifically for China. The important thing is, this is exactly the product that Chinese customers want.”As is the case with all car companies, Ford would not disclose which future models it is working on next inside its top secret facility — the cars are at least three years away from showrooms — but Mr Worthington did confirm that Australia will continue to play a key role in Ford’s global future.“We’re working on multiple programs and we never talk about what we’re working on because that gives away our global portfolio to rivals,” said Mr Worthington.“(But) we are fully using all of our facilities (in Australia). It’s good for us and it’s good for Ford globally.”What would you do to score a tour of Ford's secret testing facility? Let us know in the comments below.Ford's historic 112,000km endurance testRichard Blackburn -- CarsGuide Ford You Yangs endurance test 1965 Ford You Yangs endurance test 1965 Ford You Yangs endurance test 1965 Ford You Yangs endurance test 1965 Ford You Yangs endurance test 1965 Ford You Yangs endurance test 1965 It was marketing gone mad. Faced with dwindling sales and burdened with a reputation for cars that were too "soft" for rugged Australian conditions, Ford embarked on one of the most audacious publicity stunts in Australia's history.The year was 1965 and newly appointed marketing guru Bill Bourke had just arrived in the country.Bourke was a star on the rise in Ford but put his career on the line by hatching a plan for a daring "durability run" at Ford's newly minted proving ground that would dispel reliability concerns about the Ford Falcon once and for all.The Falcon 70,000-mile durability run wouldn't happen today. Bourke would have been marched into the HR office and marched out the door soon after.The plan was to drive five Falcons a total of 70,000 miles (112,000km) at an average speed of 112km/h. The stunt would take nine days and would play out in the full glare of the nation's media.Worse still, the proving ground's high-speed oval wasn't finished yet so the "basic durability road" became the track, complete with twists, turns and blind corners.The test took nine days and along the way Bourke nearly ran out of tyres and drivers. He had recruited the country's top racing drivers for the gruelling task but some found the going simply too tough.Several cars rolled off the track into the Victorian bush, one hitting a large boulder.The drama was played out on nightly news bulletins and finally, in the early hours of day nine, the last car roared over the finishing line in advance of the ambitious target.Bourke dined out on the results with a huge advertising campaign and soon the punters — and more importantly the fleets — were returning to Ford dealerships. To cap it off, the Falcon was awarded the Wheels Car of the Year gong and the future of Ford's local manufacturing operation was secured. Related articles Ford Everest fire caused by loose battery connection8 December 2015 by Joshua Dowling Chery J11 recalled due to fuel fire risk4 December 2015 by Richard Berry Simulator demonstrates dangers of texting while driving1 December 2015 by Natalie Savino Gold Coast dubbed "chop shop hot spot" as vehicle thefts rise1 December 2015 by Jack Houghton Big prices don't necessarily bring standard safety gear | comment27 November 2015 by Richard Blackburn What to read next Comments Related articles Ford Everest fire caused by loose battery connection8 December 2015 by Joshua Dowling Chery J11 recalled due to fuel fire risk4 December 2015 by Richard Berry Simulator demonstrates dangers of texting while driving1 December 2015 by Natalie Savino Gold Coast dubbed "chop shop hot spot" as vehicle thefts rise1 December 2015 by Jack Houghton Big prices don't necessarily bring standard safety gear | comment27 November 2015 by Richard Blackburn Related pages Ford Industry news Related cars for sale Search Ford cars for sale Get the latest news, reviews and advice every week '); }