Ford’s Prado-fighter launches in Beijing

Ford’s Prado-fighter launches in Beijing

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Ford has thrown down its gauntlet at the Toyota Prado and the ageing Mitsubishi Pajero with the global media launch of it’s Everest SUV in Beijing today.

Auto Media Group’s Robert Barry is at the event.

Ford’s Chinese joint venture partner JMC (Jianling Motors Corp), will produce the seven seat Everest in China for local consumption but vehicles bound for Australia, New Zealand, and other right-hand-drive markets will come from the Auto Alliance plant in Rayong, Thailand.

Everest will be available in New Zealand and Australia, China, India and markets across the Asean region next year. Ford will also introduce the vehicle to South Africa and African countries below the Sahara desert in 2015.

While the vehicle has been built for off-road conditions and towing, its not a basic stripped workhorse, but a well specified vehicle that may tempt people away from the Prado and Pajero, and possibly Ford’s own ageing Territory.

The Everest was developed by engineers and designers at Ford’s Asia Pacific design facility which sits behind the Ford Australia head office in Broadmeadows, a northern suburb of Melbourne.

Shanghai-Based Ford Asia Pacific vice president product development Trevor Worthington says the company has invested many millions of dollars in the Australian facility and it will continue to develop cars such as Ranger and Everest for global and regional markets. Past efforts have included the Fiesta-based Figo for India, and he confirms there will be more projects in the pipeline.

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It will be the first Australian-designed and engineered vehicle to be built in China, and will be a part of Ford’s strategy to grow the market to more than a million vehicles sold in 2015. Ford hopes to launch 15 new vehicles in China in 2015.

But its the level of specification that will arouse interest in this market segment in New Zealand, particularly for those people who have a Prado or Pajero on their shopping list.

Ford has equipped the car with its Sync 2 infotainment system, heating and ventilation vents for each row of seats, a two-panel glass sunroof, active noise cancellation devices, 48 litres of onboard storage, a glove box that can store a 16-inch laptop computer, and numerous power outlets for 12-volt and 240-volt devices.

The Everest also offers a veritable alphabet soup of acronyms detailing its active and passive safety systems. It offers active parking assist, adaptive cruise control, lane keeping aid, curve control, forward alert with collision mitigation, blind spot information system (BLIS), cross traffic alert, roll stability control, tyre pressure monitoring and lane departure warning.

In summary, the Everest will activate the brakes if it thinks the driver is going too fast through a corner and reduce the speed of the vehicle by up to 16 km/h or will activate the brakes if it thinks it is too close to another vehicle, it will steer the vehicle back into a lane on the motorway should the driver not respond to a warning buzzer, and it will also help the driver when parallel parking.

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It will warn the driver about vehicles coming into the blind spot should they try and change lanes, and it will warn about approaching vehicles when reversing out of a parking space.

With the Ford MyKey system, owners can also programme the vehicle for younger drivers which will limit the vehicles top speed, audio volume, block incoming calls on phones paired with the Sync 2 system and encourage seat belt use through constant belt-minder warnings. It can also display earlier low fuel warnings to remind young drivers to fill up the vehicle.

The Everest is also equipped with front and rear cameras as well as parking sensors.

With the two rows of rear seats folded flat, theres more than 2000 litres of storage space, and the Everest can accommodate wide items such as golf bags longitudinally across the cargo area. it has a powered rear tailgate that can be activated by waiving your leg at the rear bumper.

To call the Everest a wagon version of the Ford Ranger would be overly simple but it does retain a solid rear axles with Watt’s linkage and a body-on-frame construction. The Ranger certainly formed the basis of the new SUV but it has a lot more technology onboard as mentioned earlier, and it offers three upgraded engines from the Ford portfolio.

Depending on the market, Ford will offer a 2-litre four cylinder EcoBoost petrol engine, a 2.2-litre turbo diesel four-cylinder engine or an upgraded version of the 3.2-litre five-cylinder engine found underneath the Rangers bonnet, with a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission.

Ford has added a terrain management system (TMS) similar to that of Land Rovers, which allows drivers to choose between four settings on the run, normal, snow/gravel/grass, sand, and rock. Everest is also equipped with an electronic locking rear differential, and also a locking torque converter to provide engine braking on steep descents.

For those drivers who venture off-road the Everest has a 225mm ground clearance, a water-wading capability of 800mm, an approach angle of 29 degrees, a departure angle of 25 degrees, and a ramp over angle of 21 degrees.

It’s braked towing capacity is 3000kg, payload capacity is 750kg, and the roof payload is 100kg. Everest also has electronic trailer sway control to prevent a trailer from any miscreant on-road behaviour.

Prices and specification have not yet been confirmed for New Zealand but its more than likely we’ll see the 2-litre EcoBoost petrol version, as well as the 3.2-litre inline five-cylinder.

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