With sales dropping even faster of the Australian Ford Falcon, Ford has let go an additional 212 workers on top of 118 voluntary departures at the Broadmeadows (headquarters, assembly for Falcon, Fairlane, customer service division, training center, research and design) and Geelong (casting, engine, stamping and product engineering) facilities. Another 110 employees were also moved to other jobs in the company. This was 20% of the local work force.
This after Ford received $34M AU in January 2012 in what Prime Minister Julia Gillard said at the time would create 300 jobs. This apparent inconsistency has caused many to question the resolve of the current Government.
Earlier this year Ford teased 2012 Sydney Motor Show attendees with a quick glimpse of a “new” Falcon for the 2014 model year. Whether this is truly an all-new design or simply a “top hat” redesign is unknown, although the lack of product development funds would suggest the latter. In the meantime, with declining sales of the current Falcon, fewer workers are needed.
The Falcon is designed for the right-hand drive Australian market, and very small numbers are exported to New Zealand and South Africa. The car is not designed to meet North American standards and would need a resign and considerable investment for export into our uncertain market. This as Lincoln is reportedly considering reentering the rear-wheel drive market with a new product built on 2015 Mustang mechanicals. Whether there is any intersection in the platforms of these three cars is unknown, but platform sharing is the heart of the “One Ford” methodology. Ford’s (international) 2 liter EcoBoost 4 cylinder and (North American) 5 liter V-8 engines (with a locally built supercharged variant) are used in the Falcon, along with a locally produced 4 liter inline DOHC 6-cylinder that traces its roots back to the North American OHC inline 6 of the early sixties. An effort to replace this with the far more modern 3.5 and 3.7 liter DOHC V-6 engine line was put on hold in order to keep a locally produced engine available, along with jobs for its workers.
Ford has considered replacing the Falcon with a variant of the North American Taurus. The Taurus was actually imported to Australia once before, but sold very poorly. Ford Motor Company’s global design chief J Mays told reporters at the January 2011 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) that a future generation Falcon would likely be based on a future version of the Taurus. Then Ford global product chief Derrick Kuzak also turned his back on two Australian journalists who cornered him for an answer. Alan Mulally was also quizzed, and avoided an answer by saying “We love the Falcon, we have nothing new to address today other than we love serving the Australian customer. We have nothing to report. …I have never met more relentless people than the Australians [media].”
Holden, the Australian subsidiary of GM, is faced with similar declining sales issues but had invested heavily in designing a more modern and flexible platform that is built in both left- and right-hand drive models and can therefore be exported more widely (particularly to the Middle East). The Pontiac G8 was simply a rebadged Holden Commodore [download brochure] and had a brief stay in North America before GM fell into Chapter 11. The upcoming 2014 Chevrolet SS sedan is the same car again, with minor updates along with the next-gen direct-injected V-8. The same Holden chassis is also used for the current Camaro but is due to be replaced with the more modern Alpha chassis in 2016.
From Ford Press:
VICTORIA, Australia, 4 January, 2000 — Why did Hubert French decide on Geelong as the headquarters of Ford in Australia? He reasoned that, because Ford imported chassis parts from Canada, steel and other parts from England and timber from Tasmania and it would need a close port to ship cars and components to all the other States, it would need a deep-water harbour like Corio Bay. Geelong also had excellent road and rail facilities and sufficient land at reasonable cost for future development. Mr. French also concluded that very large population areas should be avoided as “our experience has been that large centres of population should, if possible, be avoided inasmuch as they are generally subject to a considerable amount of labour unrest. Geelong has the advantage of having a reasonably adequate supply of labour and is sufficiently far removed from Melbourne to be practically free of those labour troubles which are frequently evident in that city.” Geelong also had banks, shops, telephone and cable facilities, sewerage, power, light, gas, hospitals, housing, churches, libraries, schools, sporting facilities public gardens, social and sporting clubs, tramways, buses and a Customs Department branch. Finally, Mr. French admitted that “Geelong’s proximity to the wealthy Western District which is well populated and grows the finest wool in Australia, provide a potential market for a vehicle manufacturer right at his door.” # # #
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.
Extremely bad news for Ford Falcon fans this week: Ford has announced still more cuts in reaction to the continuing drop in market share in Australia. Given special funding by the Australian Government, the Falcon will continue to be built locally until 2016. But the ramification of the falling market share is that it is now even more likely that the next Falcon will simply be a re-badged Ford Taurus on the next generation platform (believed to be a stretched Mondeo/Fusion). This would more directly address the direction of the Australian market, which of course is good for Ford of Australia.
But it also has ramifications for the future of the Ford Mustang platform: not only whether or not the Falcon would share the 2015 Mustang IRS suspension (and thus reduce costs) but whether a unified and more modern platform could be developed for both products in the longer term. Without the benefits of cost sharing the Mustang platform would otherwise be destined to remain an “orphan”, not part of the One Ford strategy, and therefore constrained (yet again) by very narrow development budgets.
Reuters story follows:
(Reuters) – Ford Motor Co’s Australian unit will announce plans later on Tuesday to cut up to 440 jobs at two production plants in Melbourne and nearby Geelong in Victoria state, a spokeswoman said.
The company was still talking with workers ahead of the announcement, she said.
Ford, which has more than 3,000 employees in Australia, in January secured more than A$34 million ($35 million)in funding from state and federal governments to guarantee local production until 2016.
Australian car manufacturers have enjoyed solid sales over the past year despite a subdued economy, although Ford’s sales have lagged, according to the Australian Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries.
Ford’s market share slipped to fifth place or 7.9 percent for the year to June, compared with 9.1 percent a year earlier, the chamber’s industry figures showed. Sales of its top model, the Falcon, have fallen sharply.
Ford trailed Toyota, General Motors Holden unit, Mazda and Hyundai.
Australian car makers have also lost market share as sales of imports have surged, aided by the strong Australian dollar. In April, Toyota Motor Corp cut 350 jobs from its manufacturing plant in Melbourne. ($1 = 0.9770 Australian dollars) (Reporting by Victoria Thieberger; Editing by Richard Pullin).
FPV is the “SVT” of Ford Australia… but without the ongoing quality and engineering issues. FPV has done a great job building special edition Falcons that focus not only on power but also on handling dynamics. The GT Black is their latest iteration. Its low-pressure supercharged FPV engine makes 449 HP and 420 lb ft of torque. The engine itself is the same 5 liter V-8 used in the Mustang GT, weak connecting rods and all. Which probably explains the minimal power gains.
The FPV Falcon is a halo car for Ford of Australia, a means of trying to raise sales. Falcon sales have dropped considerably in recent years, the market is moving away from cars of this size and fuel economy. GM – aka Holden, is experiencing the same sales issues with their similarly sized rear wheel drive models (known as the Pontiac G8 when it was for sale in North America). The Aussies at Holden and Ford have stubbornly – and heroically – clung to this type of product against the shift of the market. We have to admire the Australians for their work here, but from a financial standpoint it may be hopeless in the long run and time is running out in direct proportion to the drop in sales.
Looking to the future, the sales drop lengthens the odds against any idea of designing a worldwide rear wheel drive platform to share across the Mustang and Falcon lines (and perhaps Lincoln). Not because of the financial advantages of platform sharing, but because the market for a Falcon of the current size and fuel economy is evaporating. Given the drop in sales, Ford has all but announced that a variant of a future Ford Taurus would be the basis for the next-generation Falcon (this idea has been tried once before with disastrous results) and a decision is due this summer. The door isn’t closed yet, but it is rapidly closing.
So let’s enjoy the Falcon while we can, even if from afar.
FPV Press Release follows:
FPV ANNOUNCES GT BLACK LIMITED EDITION SERIES
FPV has today announced the launch of its most limited edition vehicle to date, the GT BLACK.
Responding to the overwhelming feedback received on the FPV Concept, revealed at this year’s Australian International Motor Show, FPV have taken the popular black-on-black treatment and applied the stealth-looking paintwork to just 125 units of the current standard supercharged Boss 335kW GT, creating the FPV GT BLACK.
“We were totally blown away by the positive feedback received from fans and show-goers on our Concept,” FPV General Manager Rod Barrett said.
“We knew we had a winner with the black paintwork and we wanted to action something immediately. The public spoke and we listened and I am just thrilled we have been able to put the GT BLACK into production so quickly.”
“All the feedback received has been collated and the results present exciting possibilities for the FPV brand in the future. The GT BLACK is the beginning of some exciting times ahead as we continue to work on new product and design enhancements to reflect the needs and wants of the market.”
With all black finished styling, black alloy wheels, black tail pipes and all-new matt black striping decals the GT BLACK will display a striking presence on our roads.
“The FPV GT BLACK is available in one colour only, so there will be no confusion when it comes to placing an order for colour on this one”
The limited edition GT BLACK is powered by the much vaunted all-aluminium BOSS 335 5.0-litre supercharged engine with a maximum power output of 335kW at 5750rpm, combined with maximum torque of 570Nm delivered across a broad 2200-5500 rpm range.
The newest addition to the FPV stable will be finished in menacing Silhouette black paintwork and will carry the excellent features of the current GT range plus some exciting extras, including reverse camera and leather seating.
An all-new styling matt black stripe decal will feature on the bonnet, rear wing and bodysides, with the black paint treatment also carrying over on to the front and rear bumpers and upper and lower grilles.
The fog lamp bezels have also been made black, as have the exhaust tips, while completing the exterior will be GT premium five-spoke 19-inch alloy wheels finished in gloss black with black wheel nuts.
Inside the all black theme continues with black leather trim throughout, a black finish around the Interior Command Centre (ICC) unit, tissue box and door spears, and a unique black gear shift badge on manual transmission models.
Further enhancing the collectability of the GT BLACK, each vehicle will come with its own unique build badge and certificate of authenticity.
“With only 125 units available, we urge interested buyers to act quickly, with a number of vehicles already pre-sold.”
The recommended Manufacturer’s List Price for the GT BLACK is $74,290, at participating FPV Dealers only.
The unfortunate news announced by Ford of Australia in April 2011 (“Ford to cut 240 jobs as sales of larger vehicles slump“) of a 20% cut in production due to slumping sales and a layoff of 240 assembly line workers means an uncertain future for the Ford Falcon product family - and also has ramifications for the future of the Ford Mustang in the North American market.
Add to this the J Mays statement at the 2011 NAIAS hinting that the Falcon cannot continue on an “orphan” platform: meaning a platform local to Australia only and not used elsewhere in the world per the Ford “One World” methodology. The platform is currently used for the full size 4-door Falcon sedan and chassis-mates including the Falcon Ute (which is very popular in Australia) and crossover SUV Ford Territory. Despite One World, the bottom line is that sales have been consistently dropping over the past few years as the platform ages and becomes less competitive. This makes any continued financial investment by Ford difficult to justify. And while the Falcon family is just barely profitable, it isn’t profitable enough to pay for a much-needed all-new platform.
Compare and contrast this to Holden (General Motors of Australia), which debuted an all-new platform in 2006 for it’s full-size Commodore family of cars. These were designed not only for Australia, but are also exported to several other geographies around the world and recently (in long wheelbase form) came to North America as the Chevrolet Caprice police car. And as of model year 2013, will also come back to the United States with a Chevrolet badge affixed to what we previously knew as the Pontiac G8.
The same platform is also used for the current North-American built Chevrolet Camaro. As the Holden products and Camaro are replaced by the all-new and even more advanced “Alpha” platform starting in the 2015-2016 timeframe, exports will continue. The Alpha platform is already being used for the new Cadillac ATS and will provide the basis for the next CTS as well. GM has been very smart here and is well-positioned for the future – although clearly they failed with the Pontiac G8 variant sold for a short time in North America. The G8 only failed because GM itself was failing… not because it wasn’t a desirable and well-built product.
A strategic decision by Ford is overdue and is currently underway. There is without a doubt controversy and conflict inside Ford surrounding this decision. We see two possible outcomes, with variants:
- An single platform that will be shared between the Falcon and Mustang. Two variants here, separated widely by the financial investment required:
- A world-class chassis for the Mustang and Falcon (and perhaps for a future RWD Lincoln sedan and crossover SUV). If done optimally this could be a Ford Motor Company equivalent of Nissan’s highly successful FM platform (used by the 370Z as well as several Infiniti products). *Very* expensive, and commits Ford to using the platform beneath several variants. Technically, this would be fully competitive with GM’s Alpha platform and could be used worldwide in the same ways. But is Ford confident enough in itself to take the leap?
- A “modernizing update” to the current S197 chassis, with the much-needed IRS and more high-strength steel to reduce weight, shared with the Falcon. This would be less expensive, less technologically adept, and more of a compromise since it fixes the size of both cars to roughly the current S197 width: too big for a modern sports coupe, and too narrow for a Falcon sedan. This is the cheap (and shorter-term) way out of the problem and will generate immediate goodwill benefits with Ford fans in Australia and North America.
- The “modernizing update” to the existing Mustang platform and a Taurus variant for Australia
- A variant of the current Taurus for Australia, or,
- A variant of the next Taurus platform for Australia (stretched Mondeo/Fusion, probably 4 years away).
An important factor here, although complicating, is the very clear preference in Australia for a rear wheel drive Falcon. This is both emotional (given the long term history of the Falcon in the country) and economic since a locally-produced Falcon provides much-needed employment and tax revenue (assuming the products are financially successful). And that also makes it a political decision. The Australian Government has provided incentives to help keep the current Falcon in production, as well as it’s locally-produced 4 liter inline six engine (another “orphan” and a legacy engine dating back to the early sixties in it’s original form). Ford provided a small cash investment recently with some styling updates and the addition of the existing 2-liter EcoBoost 4 cylinder engine to raise mileage and reduce emissions.
Our preference is for the first outcome and variant A: a worldwide Ford “FM’-like platform. Take the lesson from Nissan: lightweight, aluminum-intensive, capable of housing a range of engines from 4 to 8 cylinders, hybrid-capable, and designed to underpin a family of worldwide products. In our opinion, Ford engineers should be given the opportunity to demonstrate what they are truly capable of (need we say Lincoln LS, this time understanding the efficiencies and leveraging the benefits far better) - versus what they are (all too often) constrained to do. Ford is extraordinarily healthy now, sales are reaching all-time highs, and the technology exists to make rear wheel drive cars very competitive in terms of fuel economy. A more modern Falcon, lighter, and with a world-class EcoBoost engine (we already know the 2015 Mustang will use a 2.3 liter EcoBoost engine for it’s base engine), can be exported to China and the Middle East as well as built locally alongside the Mustang for North America and Europe. Size it right and it will also provide a premium product for Europe as well the types of products that Lincoln needs to reach it’s own potential.
And speaking of “goodwill“, in 2013 we’ll see the arrival of Australia’s own V-8 Supercars racing series in the United States at the new Circuit of the Americas Formula 1 track now being built outside of Austin, Texas. The V-8 Supercars series is a hard-fought battle between Ford of Australia and Holden featuring legions of battling Commodores and Falcons. It has a long history in Australia and is very near and dear to the hearts of enthusiasts and to the minds of buyers in Australia. If GM is smart, they’ll temporarily re-label the Commodores as Chevy Caprices for this one event (and there will likely be Chevy Caprice police cars in America by the tens-of-thousands by then… and possibly a civilian version as well). But Ford will have nothing to offer… no marketing benefits in North America whatsoever from the very appealing and fan-favorite Falcons. Wouldn’t it be something if Ford were to show a Falcon concept in the United States in 2013, parade it around the track at the event, and then go into production in the summer of 2014? Alas, it’s too much to hope for… and it would be insulting and enraging to North American fans if the Falcon wasn’t sold here in some form or another.
According to an article on the Drive website from Australia, the Ford Falcon is going the “way of the Dodo” and sales are well below the point of economic viability.
And the EcoBoost 4 cylinder, which was designed to make the Falcon a bit more competitive in the Australian marketplace, has been delayed until early 2012.
Not a surprise, since this same engine hasn’t shown up in the new Explorer when it was supposed to either.
Going back to our original article on the likely demise of the Falcon, and how that will kill any hope for a modern Mustang platform, it appears that the sales decline makes the demise of the rear wheel drive Falcon all but a sure thing. Our question next would be “what happens now”. Will Ford go thru with it’s plan to make the Ford Taurus the next Falcon? And the gigantic, obese, SHO would replace the current Falcon XR. Even with it’s new 400-HP EcoBoost V-6 coming in 2012, it’s still hauling 4368 pounds without options.
The Australians have loved their performance Falcons for years. Are they going to accept a warmed over SHO? We don’t think so. Australians, time to get to your nearest Ford dealer for very nearly your last chance to buy a real Falcon.
The Sydney Morning Herald has reported that the existing rear-wheel drive Falcon will be replaced by a front- and all-wheel drive Taurus-based product in a few years. This is a very important bit of news for Mustang enthusiasts because a common rear wheel drive platform could have been shared for the next generation of the Falcon and Mustang, saving significant development costs and enabling a financial model that could have paid for more extensive advanced weight-saving technologies.
If this move by Ford is confirmed, then the future evolution of the Mustang becomes an open question. We know that a replacement Mustang is coming in a few years, and the big question is whether we will get a warmed-over version of the current dumbed-down chassis, or something modern and perhaps even approaching state-of-the-art. Federal regulations have determined the future course of the Mustang: total weight will need to be reduced so that fuel economy can increase even further. And if weight can be significantly reduced, variations of the current base V-6 and the GT V-8 engine can be used further out into the future that they would be able to be used otherwise.
Our primary interest is of course in the suspension, where the Falcon has had an independent rear suspension (and SLA front) for many years while the Mustang (with the temporary exception of the troublesome SVT bolt-in) remains stuck with the most antiquated suspension design of any Ford car in North America (even the Expedition has a more sophisticated suspension design than the Mustang). Can the next Mustang solve the weight question and the suspension question?
If you thought that the new engines in the 2011 Mustang were the sole savior of the Mustang’s future, you’d be wrong. They were the easy part, since they were just hand-me-downs from other platforms. The hard part is losing a couple of hundred pounds of weight at a minimum in the next iteration of the car, and several hundred pounds in the longer term. Hard not only in engineering, but particularly in cost. In fact cost is the overriding challenge and it will have the largest impact on Mustang enthusiasts. Alan Mullay’s “One Ford” strategy means that investments in technology are spread across several products. The best example of this is Ford’s C-class platform, which will yield 10 separate products, all of them offered worldwide. And “One Ford” precludes having an “orphan” chassis in Australia or North America. So both the Falcon and Mustang must change. “To what?” is the unknown.
There are a couple of possibilities for the next Mustang platform:
- Simple top-hat update on top of the existing platform. Unlikely, since that’s what the 2010 was.
- Further mechanical evolution of the current platform
- Reuse of a revised Falcon platform
- Creation of an all-new platform for both the Mustang and Falcon.
Per the Australian article above, the reality of the Australian market is that there isn’t very enough volume left in the segment to support a stand-alone platform and manufacturing for the Falcon. As the article says, sales are at the worst point in 50 years. Holden isn’t doing very much better, although they do have the benefits of an export market with variations of products on this chassis going to worldwide markets including the Middle East and soon for Chevrolet to North America. Remember that the Camaro is built on a variation of this chassis – it was changed slightly, but in any case is moving to a lower-cost variant of the new Alpha chassis in 2015 or thereabouts. So the volume of the Camaro will not benefit Holden any longer.
Technically the Falcon platform is out-dated… the last update was just a “top hat” on top of a platform that didn’t receive any particular focus on weight reduction or efficiency. It’s not the rear wheel drive platform we’d want for a new Mustang given the far forward position of the engine, more like an SN95 than an S197. And while the rear suspension is independent, it was done on the cheap with a lot of stamped parts. And a trailing-arm design, while space-efficient, isn’t optimum for handling.
When Ford developed the final S197 chassis and it’s planned IRS (canceled from production at the last moment in a cost-savings move), they had already abandoned the Falcon IRS early in the development process and ended up developing their own aluminum-intensive and highly optimized IRS. And it’s weight was very comparable to ye olde iron and steel solid axle. Too bad it’s stuck on the shelf.
“One Ford” means literally that – the Taurus platform is intended to be be the sole worldwide large-car platform. If, as the article states, a decision on the future of the Falcon chassis is due in 6 months, then the Australians are scrambling to create a business model for their otherwise-”orphan” Falcon product line. The Mustang would almost certainly be a part of that plan so that the financials can be spread across multiple products.
A new Mustang is likely for 2015… whether it will be a variation of the current car or use a shared platform with the Falcon is the big question. The idea of sharing a platform with the current much-larger Falcon would add weight and size to a future Mustang, as this same plan did with the Camaro. A 190-inch 3900-pound Mustang won’t work when increased Federal mileage and emissions regs will require a car a little smaller than the current Mustang and much lighter.
We have have to remember when talking about a future Mustang that Ford doesn’t have something like Nissan’s FM platform, which spans everything from the Z on up to the Infiniti M. This makes for a slightly too-heavy Z, but it does give Nissan/Infiniti planners the advantage of enormous cost savings and the ability to share a wide variety of engines across the products. As one example, the new hybrid components first used on the M in production (first publicly shown in early development form on a G) could even be used to create a hybrid Z, which would increase performance significantly and deliver significantly increased fuel economy. The FM platform is very flexible and was certainly an extremely worthwhile investment for Nissan to undertake many years ago.
Ford had something like the FM platform in the DEW98 platform… it was very efficient and very highly aluminum-intensive. It was used for three products (Jag S-Type, T’Bird, LS), planned for several more, and was also intended to underpin an all-new Mustang as well. However, after a lengthy internal study was conducted (I corresponded with the person leading the study at the time), the plan to use it for the Mustang was dropped due to cost restraints. Too bad, because we would have been enjoying a Mustang with a world-class chassis for the past 10 years. Now this platform is gone (although living on with Jaguar), and with it any idea of rear wheel drive products for Lincoln. Blame it’s loss on Little Billy Ford, who thought he could run a car company but ended up running it into the ground, ruining lives and killing booked product plans along the way.
:SPECULATION MODE ON
Given the recent news and all this background, the worst case (for us) but most likely (for Ford) scenario is that Ford will have to to soldier on with a variant of the current Mustang chassis. Ford engineers will need to bring the structural integrity up to the expected standards while simultaneously dropping a couple of hundred pounds.
Fortunately, because the engines are hand-me-downs from other much higher-volume products, there is a path already established to even better mileage and emissions just from the engines alone. Shifting the engine mix around a bit could help, as would the use of the EcoBoost 2 liter for a base engine (and at a minimum of 237 HP there’s nothing wrong with that), dropping perhaps another 150 pounds.
So perhaps the chassis people will aim for a 200 pound drop (perhaps using some of the technology being developed for the next-gen F-150, you may have read about this project). A shorter rear overhang, with a hatchback and IRS, would eat up part of the loss, perhaps resulting in a car overall 100 pounds less than todays Mustang. That’s hardly enough on it’s own to meet the upcoming Federal requirements. But combine erngine improvements already in the pipeline (such as Direct Injection) and planned (variable valve lift) with a net loss on a base 4-cylinder models of as much as 250 pounds, and an evolution of the current platform could suffice into the next decade.
:SPECULATION MODE OFF
Speculation is just that… we’ll have to wait for spy pics of development mules in a couple of years to know what decision Ford makes in June of this year. But as one driving enthusiast to another, we’re very disappointed with Ford. Ford has never shown what it’s capable of with the Mustang from an engineering standpoint… only from a budgetary standpoint. Given the enormous profits that Ford generated in 2010, and with every expectation of an even better 2011, it’s time to spend the money on a state-of-the-art rear wheel drive platform.
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.
This is one announcement that was very highly anticipated in Australia. Ford enthusiasts in the states are also watching… and waiting.
There are two variations of the engine, with the one shown below wearing a cold air intake. This is still a port-injected engine – specs are essentially the same as the North American version fo this engine.
But why a supercharged Coyote engine only makes approx. 422 HP (450 with cold air) has not been explained. The engine may be tuned for torque instead…. but even it’s 400 lb-ft isn’t much. Very strange. It’s also been said that these engines are not intercooled, which would explain the low output. Certainly better output will come later…?
Ford if Australia Press Release follows:
FPV ANNOUNCES SUPERCHARGED V8 ENGINE PROGRAM
Thursday, September 2, 2010
Ford Performance Vehicles today announced a new range of supercharged V8 engines for its Australian-made performance car range.
To be launched in early October, the new FPV GS and GT model ranges will both be powered by all-new lightweight 5.0 litre supercharged Ford V8 engines producing 315kW and 335kW of power respectively.
Both engine configurations are more powerful, more fuel efficient and cleaner than any engines previously offered by FPV.
Developed locally by Prodrive in a $40 million program, the new FPV engines are based on the ‘Coyote’ Ford V8 first introduced in the American Ford Mustang at the beginning of this year.
“The new supercharged V8 engine program represents FPV’s biggest-ever investment in the Australian market, and has been the most extensive and exhaustive development program we’ve ever undertaken,” Prodrive Asia-Pacific Managing Director Bryan Mears said today.
“The outcome is phenomenal … these engines are brilliantly responsive, their performance is sensational, and they will take our next generation of FPV models to a level that’s simply unmatched by anyone else.”
FPV’s first-ever supercharged engine, the new V8 is a sophisticated all-aluminium design with double overhead cams and 32 valves configuration, and is fully EuroIV compliant.
Its lightweight and compact size – the supercharged Coyote engine is 47kg lighter than the outgoing 5.4 litre Boss 315kW engine – also offers packaging benefits which enhance the handling performance of FPV’s new GS and GT ranges.
The base of the new FPV V8 engine is imported from America in component form and each one is hand-assembled locally by FPV, utilising extensive Australian-made componentry.
“It’s important to emphasise just how Australian these engines are,” Bryan Mears said.
“Although the basis of the engine is imported, all the components utilised in the supercharged configuration are locally sourced, and the engines are completely hand-made by the team at FPV in Melbourne.”
Heart of the Australian engine specification is a Harrop Engineering-developed supercharger utilising Eaton TVS technology.
FPV began its development of the new GS and GT engines in 2007, initially with a 5.4 litre XR8 ‘mule’ engine fitted with a supercharger and custom manifolds. This was used for cooling system development and initial engine calibration strategy development before the first of three levels of prototypes were built around the 5.0 litre ‘Coyote’ Mustang engine.
Each of these prototypes advanced development of the engine, at first with hand-made componentry to trial various configurations, until a final specification was locked in, utilising pre-production parts and then final production components.
Engine power levels, torque curves and emission outputs were all refined throughout this process.
“One aspect of the program that was very important to us was the aural output of the engine … it is at the heart of the FPV brand that the engine sounds right as well as means business, so we put enormous effort into that,” Bryan Mears confirmed.
“You’re going to love the outcome!”
Finally, verification prototypes then embarked on an exhaustive 170,000 kilometre durability program around Australia, before the engineering program was signed off in July 2010.
FPV will offer customers two engine specifications when the new GS and GT ranges go on sale in October.
The GS-spec engine produces 315kW of power at 5750 rpm and 545Nm of torque, from an incredible 2000 to 5500rpm!
Official fuel consumption and emissions figures* for the 315kW engine are as follows:
GS Manual Sedan – 13.6 l/100km, 324 g/km CO2
GS Auto Sedan – 13.7 l/100km, 325 g/km CO2
GS Manual - 14.0 l/100km, 333 g/km CO2
GS Auto Ute – 14.2l/100km, 335 g/km CO2
The GT-spec engine produces 335kW of power at 5750-6000 rpm and 570Nm of torque between 2200 & 5500rpm. Its official fuel consumption and emissions figures* are as follows:
GT/GTP Manual Sedan -13.6 l/100km, 324 g/km CO2
GT/GTP/GTE Auto Sedan -13.7 l/100km, 325 g/km CO2
* Combined cycle; tested to ADR81/02