DUBAI, UAE – With the growing importance of the Middle East region as a key market, and due to its unique punishing extreme environment, Ford engineers troop to the region on various occasions each year to put vehicles to extreme tests so as to ensure high quality and durability in Ford’s products and meet the needs of customers wherever they are in the world.
For the past few years, more than 10 engineers at a time travel to the region to drive vehicles and evaluate their response to intense heat and sun exposure, dust and sand and high-speed driving. Larry Prein, managing director, Ford Middle East, said “Ford Motor Company and the engineering leadership team are zeroing in on in-market confirmation drives to ensure we’re delivering industry-leading quality and durable products to our customers.”
The evaluation drives pave the way for engineers to see the needs of the market and share the knowledge they gain. “So far, these product evaluations in the Middle East have enlightened at least 50 engineers from across the world as they experienced the various conditions encountered by drivers in the Middle East,” said Lawrence Kummer, vehicle integration manager, Ford Global Product Development.
The engineers not only test Ford vehicles but include competitive vehicles to allow Ford engineers to benchmark the company’s products.
The frequent tests in the Middle East allow Ford’s product development and management teams to meet regularly with dealers in the region and learn what customers say about their vehicles, particularly vehicles with a longer time in service.
This year’s June in-market evaluation included pre-production test units of the all-new Ford Fusion, Ford EcoSport and Lincoln MKZ that are expected to be introduced into the Middle East region early next year.
Ziyad Dallalah, chief engineer, Ford Middle East, said “Before we roll out a product, we want to make sure that it is ready for Middle East conditions. We do our in-market evaluations prior to launch in order to take in the lessons gained and incorporate them. This results in a better product responsive to the needs of our customers.”
From previous evaluations, one of the biggest take aways is that the needs of the Middle East market make the Ford product portfolio better across the globe. Middle East testing has generated more than 20 corporate knowledge updates or standards, surrounding:
• Wind noise
• Transmission performance
• Driveline, transmission and engine cooling
• Component sealing
• Air conditioning air distribution and time to cool
• Brake NVH/dust
While the drives, such as this one for the all-new Ford EcoSport, Ford Fusion and Lincoln MKZ, help Ford produce vehicles aligned with the Middle Eastern market, they’re only one component of the company’s increasing commitment to the region. Ford also has two full-time vehicle product development engineers based in the region and a team of technical field personnel who meet regularly with dealers on technician training and product service needs.
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