Ford Australia is testing a left-hand-drive Ford F-150 Raptor performance pick-up on local roads, but there are still no plans to bring it to showrooms. So why is it here?
The Ford F-150 Raptor high-performance pick-up has been spotted on Australian roads – with Ford Australia registration – but a right-hand-drive version is no closer to showrooms as part of the locally-remanufactured F-150 range.
Images posted to the Exotic Car Spotting Australia Facebook group by Matteo Alizzi show a left-hand-drive F-150 Raptor parked in Melbourne wearing “engineering evaluation vehicle” stickers and Ford Australia licence plates.
The F-150 Raptor spied – with 3.5-litre twin-turbo petrol V6 power – is the second-from-top model in the petrol Ford F-150 range in the US, below the supercharged V8 F-150 Raptor R.
Despite the sighting of the F-150 Raptor in Australia, Ford Australia says it has “no plans” to bring the vehicle to Australian showrooms.
The standard Ford F-150 is due in showrooms by October – pending any last-minute delays – after the first vehicles en route to Australia now are remanufactured from left- to right-hand drive in a new facility in Melbourne.
“The F-150 Raptor that was spotted in Melbourne has been here for some time, as a part of our ongoing product development work in Australia,” a Ford Australia spokesperson told Drive.
“We regularly bring LHD [left-hand drive] vehicles to Australia for validation, comparison and other development work.”
The F-150 Raptor may have also been used as a benchmark during the development of the smaller Ford Ranger Raptor performance ute.
Ford Australia has been seen testing other left-hand-drive vehicles on local roads that don’t make it to showrooms – including the Bronco 4WD sold in the US, and the Evos high-riding wagon sold in China.
There will initially be two F-150 trim grades in Australia, the XLT and Lariat – both powered by a detuned version of the Raptor’s 3.5-litre twin-turbo V6, and available with standard and extended-length trays.
The boss of Ford Australia – Andrew Birkic – has previously expressed interest in expanding the local Ford F-150 line-up once production of the initial range has settled into a rhythm.
“We need to prove it out … I think what’s really important is not to get too far ahead of ourselves,” Mr Birkic told an Australian media briefing last year.
“To be honest, we are really focusing on … getting the engineering done, getting the manufacturing well established. We will always have an open mind and look at other opportunities. But right now we are very, very dedicated to ensuring that we deliver a very quality remanufactured product.”
He added: “Let’s get (the Ford F-150) down the line. Let’s spend the time on the remanufacture, let’s get it out to our customers. And then I think we’ll move on to the next step. So there’s no hard and fast timing. What we want to do is ensure the process is robust and we do it really well.”
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Alex Misoyannis has been writing about cars since 2017, when he started his own website, Redline. He contributed for Drive in 2018, before joining CarAdvice in 2019, becoming a regular contributing journalist within the news team in 2020. Cars have played a central role throughout Alex’s life, from flicking through car magazines at a young age, to growing up around performance vehicles in a car-loving family.
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Copyright 2023ABN: 84 116 608 158
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