Ford on Thursday launched the Everest, a new seven-seat family sport utility vehicle, at the 24th Bangkok International Motor Show, the second-largest motor show in the Asia-Pacific region. The new SUV debuts in Thailand and ultimately will be available in more than 50 countries.

Powered by either a four-cylinder 2.5-litre turbodiesel or a four-pot 2.6 petrol engine with two- or four-wheel drive and manual or automatic transmission, the Everest has standard anti-lock braking system with electronic brake force distribution, dual front driver and passenger airbags, 'Synchro' action foldable second row seat for claimed best-in-class access to third row seats, one-hand side-opening rear tailgate, side step bar, foldable third row seat for extra cargo space; and a dual climate control air conditioning system for front and rear passengers developed to cope with tropical climates.

An upscale model called the Everest Limited Edition also has leather seat and door trim, MP3 player, upgraded interior appointments, and lockable spare tyre carrier.

"Everest was designed and engineered to meet the needs of our Asian customers," said Ford's chief platform engineer Chuck Bambenek.

"We made sure that we carried out extensive consumer research in key markets like South Africa, Malaysia and Thailand to gather highly important customer feedback that helped us in the vehicle design and development," Bambenek said. "For example, customers told us they wanted authentic 4x4 looks and capability, so we relocated the spare tyre from underneath the box to the rear tailgate."

Thailand is the first country to introduce the new Everest beginning with the world premiere in Bangkok. This debut will be followed by a multi-phased introduction planned for Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia, Cambodia and Brunei. Ultimately, the Everest will be available in more than 50 countries including those in the Middle East and Africa such as UAE, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Angola, Ghana, Gabon, Senegal, Ivory Coast as well as Tahiti in the South Pacific.

Ford's joint venture AutoAlliance Thailand (AAT) plant, in Rayong province, Thailand, is the central production base for Everest. The vehicle will be manufactured with 80% Thai content.

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