Ford Australia, in partnership with Thai-based engineering specialist RMA Automotive, has begun remanufacturing Australian-specification F-150 pickups from left- to right-hand drive at a facility in Mickleham, Victoria.
The 21,000 square-metre facility is currently in its ramp-up phase and once it’s fully operational it will be able to remanufacture up to 20 Ford F-150s per day from left- to right-hand drive.
Each vehicle currently takes around 22 hours over three working days to remanufacture from left- to right-hand drive.
As part of the remanufacturing process around 500 parts are installed or modified, including components for the steering, climate control, lighting systems, as well as the instrument panel.
Despite this, there are also some parts that remain untouched.
One of the most notable of these is the keypad for unlocking the F-150. It remains functional but has been left on the kerb side.
Ford Australia F-150 assistant chief program engineer Tom Dohrmann said “the journey wasn’t worth it” for converting this particular functionality for right-hand drive.
Another is the lack of a unique suspension tune for the Australian market, like a number of other Ford vehicles have.
“It was more about what we had to do to get the right-hand drive product right for Australia,” said Mr Dohrmann when asked whether an Australian suspension tune had been considered.
“We didn’t think we need to do a unique suspension tune.”
One of the most notable changes made to the right-hand drive F-150 as part of the remanufacturing process is the modified steering system that uses an adapted Ranger Raptor steering rack, new intermediate shaft assembly, as well as recalibrated steering software.
Beneath the skin there’s a new cast magnesium cross-car beam and injection-moulded instrument panel carrier. There’s also a new dash and cowl sheet metal in-fill panels.
At the front of the pickup there are remanufactured headlights, which is claimed to be one of the most complicated elements of the remanufacturing process.
Ford has partnered up with the original supplier of the headlights in the US to provide them with the original housings and lenses. It uses CNC machining to separate the units and a robotic operation to glue the right-hand drive parts back together.
The F-150 Lariat retains its C-shaped LED daytime running lights, whereas the F-150 XLT’s halogen daytime running lights are deactivated in Australia due to them being unable to pass ADR compliance tests.
There are new wiper linkages and blades, with a matching cowl grille, relocated antenna, as well as redesigned side mirrors with new wedges and bezels.
At the rear there’s a new tow bar assembly that comes as standard on all Australian-specification F-150 models and features a 4500kg hitch and a 70mm ball. You can also opt for a 50mm ball with a slightly reduced towing capacity of 3500kg as a dealer accessory.
This new tow bar assembly also includes a new 12-pin connector as standard. This is in addition to the round connector for the Pro Trailer Backup Assist functionality.
There are new major electrical harnesses, including ones for the instrument panel, engine, body, trailer, and the seats.
With the latter of these, the entire Australian F-150 range receives a 12-way electrically adjustable driver’s seat as standard.
The F-150 XLT comes to Australia with a four-way electrically adjustable right-hand front seat, so RMA Automotive has to modify it to be able to have 12 ways of electric adjustability.
The company has to also add in memory functionality in the top-spec F-150 Lariat on the right-hand seat. The switch for this function on the driver’s side door panel is understood to be taken from the Mondeo.
The remanufactured right-hand drive Ford F-150 has a new climate control air handling unit, ducting, as well as heater hoses. Mr Dohrmann said it’s getting a “fantastic amount of performance out of this climate system”.
There’s a new brake pedal assembly and brake lines, however the existing brake booster is carried over.
Inside, there’s a new instrument panel, including topper panels and decorative trims.
RMA Automotive retooled all 30 internal components of the F-150 Lariat’s folding gear shifter, which means it’s still able to maintain the fold-flat feature.
The F-150 XLT also picked up a push-button start function as the place to insert the key would be on the incorrect side once the remanufacturing process had been complete.
Other interior alterations include new carpets with driver footrest, new child restraints, door switches, glove box, and relocated switch packs.
There’s a new Australian-specific SYNC software for the instrument cluster, audio and climate control systems. There’s also an Australian DAB+ digital radio tuner, and a locally compatible modem for the FordPass connected services.
The F-150 Lariat has received a unique right-hand drive tune for its 18-speaker B&O premium sound system.
RMA Automotive Holdings Australia general manager Trevor Negus told CarExpert the company’s agreement with Ford is for the remanufactured right-hand drive F-150s “will be as good as left-hand drive”.
The company has however taken on the claim to be better than the left-hand drive F-150.
Customer deliveries of the locally remanufactured Ford F-150 will commence in November. Orders are now already open.
XLT and Lariat trim levels are being offered in the F-150 locally, both of which can be had in either short- (3683mm) or long-wheelbase (3987mm) guise. Regardless of which length you opt for, the F-150 will feature a dual-cab body style in Australia.
Local pricing starts at $106,950 before on-roads for the XLT SWB, and extends to $140,945 before on-roads for the Lariat LWB.