You may have seen the news this week (http://smh.drive.com.au/motor-news/ford-falcon-to-ditch-rearwheeldrive-20110111-19lel.html) where Alan Mulally and J Mays were “jumped” at the 2011 Detroit Show by some “relentless” Australian journos who were determined to get the lowdown on future product plans for their beloved Australian Falcon. The jounos have concluded that it will be based on a Ford Taurus. Needless to say, the Australians are not happy.
What we didn’t know is that Ford tried once before to sell the Taurus in Australia. It only survived a few years. Here it is below: Ford’s first attempt at a Taurus that would appeal to Australians. Yes, that’s a right-hand drive Taurus, with Sable headlamps and a new front cap. This was introduced in 1996, at the same time as the 3rd-gen Taurus in North America. There was a base and a Ghia model, powered by the Ford 3 liter DOHC V-6. The rest of the car was exactly the same as in America, right down to the oval rear window and tail lamps.
The “export Taurus” was built in the ‘states, and was also sold in Japan. Ford planners must have been very confident back then.
As they appear to be confident now. Only this time the Taurus will replace the Falcon, instead of being sold next to it. According to the interview, the final decision on this plan won’t be made for another 6 months, but given the language used by the Ford execs in the article, it would appear that moving the Falcon to a Taurus chassis is already a done deal.
The Australians have a strong emotional attachment to their Falcon: it’s been built in Australia for 50 years (starting as carbon copy of an early 60s North American Falcon), it provides jobs at the assembly plant in Australia, and the design is all-Australian. It is going to be tough to convince them to replace their home-grown product with what they will feel is an imposter. But Dearborn is equally detemined to use a “world car” approach where a single worldwide chassis is used for any and all markets workwide.
Here’s one way to solve the problem: send Crocodile Dundee over to Dearborn to show them how Australians like their stuff:
We think that Ford Corporate should task the Australians with the creation of an all-new state of the art lightweight aluminum-intensive rear wheel drive platform… and that costs should be shared with future Mustang and Lincoln products. We like the way the Australians think, it’s a great place to visit, nice people, and Ford of Australia has accomplished a great deal with very very little in the way of financial resources. They are the ones to pull it off. They’ll have what they want, and we’ll have a state of the art Mustang platform.