2015 Mondeo launch shows flexibility, challenges of One Ford strategy

  • 28-Jan-2015 02:35 EST
Ford01-15 Mondeo Mike Rogers.jpg

Engineering Launch Manager Mike Rogers was a key member of the specialist team that guided the latest generation of Ford's global C/D-segment model through development and into production in Spain.

As Ford's Engineering Launch Manager for the 2015 Mondeo, Mike Rogers played a key role in guiding its arrival into Europe. The complex task for Rogers and his team included integrating new gasoline and diesel powertrains, two new body styles, right-hand drive, and a plethora of interior details that separate the car from its North American cousin. There was also the not-insignificant matter of switching production to Ford's Valencia, Spain, complex from the previous location in Genk, Belgium.

Although the 4-door Mondeo/Fusion is a global vehicle based on Ford's CD4 architecture, aspects of the latest model's mechanical credentials have been adapted for the European environment and its discerning customers. Europe gets a 5-door hatchback and station wagon as well as diesel engines—a new 2.0-L with twin sequential turbocharging delivering a maximum 450 N·m (332 lb·ft) will arrive later this year. There's also a hybrid that is already available in North America (and was recently confirmed for Taiwan).

But the engine application, which may interest competitors the most, is the 1.0-L Ecoboost. When it arrives in Mondeo during 2015, the diminutive triple will stretch Ford's cylinder-displacement-to-vehicle-curb-weight bandwidth to a new extreme. The 1.0-L may seem an unlikely choice for a C/D segment car weighing over 3100 lb (1410 kg), but Rogers and his team have worked hard to achieve required levels of NVH and convincing real-world performance and emissions figures.

Carefully orchestrated development

Mondeo’s European sales spread has just been completed with its arrival in right-hand-drive form in the U.K. “Because the car was developed initially as a global vehicle, Ford teams in North America, Europe and Asia were all involved in setting up the program,” said Rogers, who became involved in 2012. “And all variants of the car were designed at the outset, so we have not had to re-engineer it for Europe.”

But it received some unique content and additional engineering, including the right-hand drive.

While Mondeo/Fusion development adheres to the company’s “One Ford” strategy, that certainly does not mean a rigid approach to international expectations. There is also the matter of ensuring the products are market-conformal. Creation of the European Mondeo involved a lengthy, carefully orchestrated development period and the switch of manufacturing location created additional challenges.

The launch team comprised some 150 engineers located at the Valencia assembly plant, but Rogers stressed that there was also extensive back-up support from Ford’s technology and engineering facilities in Cologne, Dunton, and Dearborn to ensure the car and each of its bodystyles would meet all criteria.

“We have very strong links to the entire Ford engineering and manufacturing organizations globally, so we have a pool of tremendous expertise that we can pull on as needed," he explained. "Additionally, we leverage the support and expertise of our suppliers.”

The decision to move Mondeo production to Valencia came in 2012, following Ford's announcement that it would close Genk after 50 years of operation. In that time the plant produced about 14 million vehicles including the previous generation Mondeo. The move, aimed at capacity rationalization, "necessitated a very significant development and re-investment in the Valencia plant,” explained Rogers.

“Everything we have done to launch the new Mondeo in Europe has centered on Valencia, although testing and specific development has taken place elsewhere, including our powertrain European Center of Excellence at Dunton,” he told Automotive Engineering.

Vehicle-dynamics testing was carried out at Ford’s proving ground at Lommel, Belgium. The facility offered the mix of road surfaces needed to finalize what Rogers terms “the tunables.” This is part of the Europeanization of the car and includes its electric power steering (EPAS); suspension settings; brake feel, and tires.

“Lommel can simulate various road surfaces, including smooth German to rather less-smooth U.K. [roads]; there is even one surface called Lower Dunton Road which is close to our British powertrain development center!”

With regard to the steering tuning, Rogers asserted: “This is not because the North American installation or attribute performance is wrong; it is because Europe is a different market and we are able to tune the system to provide the best performance for each market and for the vehicle differences—for example station wagons or heavier diesel engines.”

Chassis experience pays off

Rogers has been with Ford for over 30 years and first became involved as a chassis specialist in a new vehicle launch in the mid to late 1990s, with the advent of the original Focus. He also gained launch-management experience with Volvo and Land Rover when those companies were Ford-owned, as well as with the previous generation Mondeo.

Although originally a chassis engineer, Rogers said the sometimes challenging but always interesting launch environment exposes him to all aspects of design, total system engineering, and manufacture, which together have allowed him to gain detail knowledge of most aspects of a new vehicle.

“A lot of focus during a launch is on finessing the fit of the interior, including the seats and trim, and of the sheet metal and exterior trim such as the molded bumpers," he noted. "We really focused on appearance quality and craftsmanship during the launch of the new Mondeo. As production got closer we conducted a lot of real-world road mileage accumulation, where most of the focus turned to the car’s mechanical systems, including powertrains and electrical and electronic systems.”

The industrialization of facilities and process development for production ran in parallel with the European Mondeo’s development.

“We have a very comprehensive Global Operating System for Launch, which requires us to follow strict processes, all designed to help ensure we launch the new product on time and with the required level of quality, fixing issues before we deliver vehicles to customers,” Rogers explained.

Said Rogers of the launch team’s involvement in creating the European market Mondeo: “We are very satisfied with our achievements in seeing the range successfully into production in Valencia and onto the market. Involved in the engineering from the outset, we have demonstrated with Fusion and Mondeo that we can deliver a global vehicle.”

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