At the 2012 Australian Motor Show this week, Ford teased us with a video showing a new Falcon for the 2014 model year. Ford Australia CEO Bob Graziano would only say that the Falcon was important to Ford and that the intent was to show customers that there was a future for Falcon.
Nothing is known technically about this new Falcon, including whether it is front-wheel drive or rear. There haven’t been any spy images as there have been in the past when the Falcon has been updated. From the video, it appears likely that the front end is in line with current Ford styling direction as in the North American Fusion. Ford Australia has pretty much stayed in line with Ford’s North American or European styling for many years. This could also mean that the product shown is a stretched Fusion, which is believed to be the basis for the next Taurus (finally eliminating the ancient Volvo-based chassis, with its high weight and poor dynamics). And J Mays, when cornered by the press a few years ago, strongly suggested that a future Taurus could be the basis for a new Falcon. To the disdain of enthusiasts in Australia. It’s not well known outside of Australian that a Taurus has been tried before, and failed, due to poor design and marketing.
But Falcon sales are quickly sinking in Australia, making the case for an “orphan” product (one that is locally built and sold in only a single market) very difficult to support. Ford has agreements with the Australian Government to keep the Falcon in production (aka jobs for Australian workers) until 2016. Ford could make an economic case for a locally built product by shipping Taurus components from the United States to Australia for final assembly, along with engines and drivetrains. Except for the current 4 liter inline 6 (itself an orphan and dating back architecturally to an early sixties North American Ford engine which went out of production elsewhere in the early eighties, but was later significantly updated for Australian market), the current Falcon 4 cylinder EcoBoost and 5 liter V-8 engines are brought in from the outside already. The 4 liter 6 only exists anymore because of Government incentives, otherwise it would be replaced by Ford’s much more modern (and very performance friendly) 3.5 and 3.7 liter V-6 family. The 4 liter 6 has also been having issues meeting the evolving emissions regulations in Australia.
So clearly something needs to change. Will the new Falcon be merely a “top hat” rework of the current car (as the current car was from its predecessor), is this an all-new car (front- or rear-wheel drive?), or is it perhaps a money-saving (and ultimately a final decision-delaying) hybrid of American engines and perhaps even a 2014.5 Mustang independent rear suspension (replacing the Falcon’s dynamically inferior “control blade” stamped-steel rear independent suspension, which Mustang engineers evaluated and quickly abandoned in the early years of S197 development when the financial benefits of having a common component between the Mustang and Falcon were first considered).
And finally, what of the Australian V8 Supercar Series? It’s coming to North American next year, at the newly completed Formula 1 Circuit of the Americas track outside of Austin Texas. Americans will finally get the opportunity to see the famous Holden-Ford battle in person, with the Commodore and Falcon battling for the title. In 2013, Chevrolet will sell its own version of a refreshed Holden Commodore in North America as the “Chevy SS” and undoubtedly these will be shown at the event to draw a parallel. Ford will have nothing to show, and therefore no marketing gain from the event (and likely negatives). Wouldn’t it be great for enthusiasts if Ford were to announce the import of the new Australian Falcon to North America at the event? Too bad that it is almost impossible to imagine, must less to justify financially.