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FORD Australia has started the roll out of its new-look dealerships with the opening of a high-tech ‘Showroom of the Future’ at the Bayford Epping site.

The Blue Oval said the state-of-the-art showroom in Melbourne’s outer northern suburbs is only the third of its kind in the world and the first in the Southern Hemisphere.

While the new look for the interior and exterior is only on one site in Australia for now, Ford says that it plans to extend this to 90 showrooms by 2021, which it says will cover 90 per cent of the company’s local customer base.

“This is an exciting time at Ford as we transform our dealerships while launching a record number of new vehicles – all to make consumers’ lives better and easier throughout their sales and ownership experience,” Ford Australia CEO and president Graeme Whickman said.

Fresh Ford: The new-look dealership in the outer northern Melbourne suburb of Epping is the first of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere.

“It allows the customer to be in control and showcase the vehicles in a unique and stimulating way, whilst providing customers with purposeful technology to enhance their experience.”

Ford says the digitally connected dealership floor features “engaging experiences to ensure the consumer is in control at every step of their Ford ownership journey” and that “the new purposeful technology is not just there to catch the eye, but to enhance the overall customer appeal”.

Ford would not provide details on how much the dealership revamp will cost, but a company spokesperson added: “We are investing significantly in our refresh program to provide a richer and more inviting consumer experience and to achieve a new standard across all Ford dealerships in Australia.”

The head of Ford Motor Company’s global dealer and consumer experience team and the pioneer of the dealership development project, Elena A. Ford, was at the opening of the new site.

Graeme Whickman, President and CEO, Ford Australia, David Blackwood, Dealer Principal, BayFord Ford, Elena Ford, VP Global Consumer Experience, Ford Motor Company, and Hugh Bayford, Managing Director of Bayford Ford.

The purpose of her team is to “accelerate the simplification and streamlining of Ford’s interaction with customers inside dealerships and at automotive and consumer shows around the world,” according to the car-maker.

“Every auto-maker is striving to unlock long-term customer loyalty but Ford is focused on connecting with consumers on their terms and building an experience they will love, regardless of where they meet us,” she said.

Ford says it reviewed a number of existing showrooms as well as conducting 63 dealer interviews around the world to ensure the designers, FITCH Design, captured the heritage and “community feel” of the Ford brand.

The new-look exterior and interior will become the global standard for Ford dealerships, and it includes a social area where buyers, sales and service staff can interact.

It will also feature a complimentary cafe and breakfast bar, a children’s play area, a movie cinema and free Wi-Fi.

Graeme Whickman, President and CEO, Ford Australia, David Blackwood, Dealer Principal, BayFord Ford, Hugh Bayford, Managing Director of Bayford Ford, and Elena Ford, VP Global Consumer Experience, Ford Motor Company.

A cloud-based media system will allow dealers to instantly change up the branding that is on display in the showroom, eliminating the need for posters, while a new digital content distribution platform ensures easy access to current model information.

There will also be a ‘tech bar’ that allows customers to create their dream car via a web-based application, guided by a Ford salesperson.

The high-tech dealership is the consolidation of the old Epping and Coburg sites, and Bayford Ford Epping dealer principal David Blackwood praised the relationship with Ford Australia.

“It’s a great honour to be chosen as the first site in Australia, and one of the first in the world, to receive this amazing refresh. It’s a testament to our strong relationship with the Ford brand,” he said.

By Tim Nicholson