Australian mass-vehicle manufacturing may have disappeared alongside the Ford Falcon and Holden Commodore sedans, but the development skills are well and truly alive through uses such as the Nissan Navara, Ford Ranger, Chevrolet Silverado and Ram 1500.
Soon to reach the milestone of 1000 major units, Nissan’s flagship Navara Pro-4X Warrior was designed and reproduced by Premcar in the Melbourne suburb of Epping.
Taking the Navara Pro-4X as a base, the Premcar team then took about 10 hours to graft in a number of upgrades to turn it into the Warrior, which Nissan still fully supports and even comes with the same five years/kilometer. factory warranty.
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Changes to the standard Nissan ute include a winch-compatible Safari-style bull bar, improved underbody protection, rearranged and raised suspension, wider track, all-terrain tires and unique styling touches – all designed, tested and locally validated.
While the Pro-4X Warrior is close to 1000 units completed, it still lags behind its predecessor, the N-Trek Warrior, which recorded around 1400 units from 2019 to 2021.
But Premcar won’t stop at just the Navara, as the company has confirmed plans to apply the Warrior treatment to the large Patrol SUV, and has hinted that there may be more to come from its partnership with Nissan.
Premcar engineering director Bernie Quinn praised his team for their work on the Navara Warrior programme, while also highlighting Australia’s “world best talent” in vehicle development.
“We’ve been hard at work on Warrior 2.0 since we finished working on the first Warrior, first in the design and engineering space, and are now producing what we consider to be the toughest Navara in the world,” he said.
“This is more than just a sticker pack. This is an extensively reengineered vehicle designed, engineered and built by some of the world’s most talented automotive manufacturing experts, right here in Victoria.
“It was not just a win for Nissan, and for Premcar, but for the automotive manufacturing industry more generally. We’ve always had a world-beating talent, and it’s rewarding to see them produce another world-beating vehicle.”
Meanwhile, Ford boasts the largest automotive engineering, design and engineering team in Australia, employing more than 2500 staff in automotive specialist roles and spending more than $2.5 billion in research and development from 2016.
Undoubtedly, the crown in Ford Australia’s engineering crown is the development of the current Ranger ute and Everest SUV, both of which will soon be replaced with new generation versions in which the local team also played a key role in bringing it to fruition.
It cannot be understated to say that the Ranger is Ford Australia’s most important model, becoming the best-selling model in Australia in 2021 and accounting for 70 per cent of the brand’s overall volume last year.
Suffice to say, there’s a lot driving the new-generation model, but the engineering team has worked hard to try and deliver the best possible Ranger, with changes including a longer wheelbase and wider track, as well as space in the engine bay for the new V6 engine. strong.
Like the previous Ranger, the new version will be offered in 180 countries around the world – including the US, China and the UK – with each model carrying a bit of an Australian feel.
Lastly, Clayton South Melbourne’s Walkinshaw Group has a hand in engineering and remanufacturing not one, but two large American trucks for Australian highways.
Through GMSV, the company imports the Chevrolet Silverado before dismantling and converting the full-sized truck into right-hand drive, while its partnership with Ateco Automotive under the American Special Vehicles (ASV) brand does the same with the Ram 1500.
Both models have been engineered to meet the Australian Design Rules, and to quote the Ram Australia website “our trucks are manufactured in Australia, by Australians to meet the demands of the Australian market”.
Just as Ford and Holden had to move with the market and ditch the Falcon and Commodore, so it seems the local engineering and development landscape is shifting to more popular segments like utes and pick-ups.