Disappointing there are no petrol drive train updates for the revised Falcon until the 4-cylinder turbo Ecoboost arrives early next year. LPI arrived a month ago and is only just hitting salesrooms now.
Update in styling brings the Falcon in line with Ford’s global style template. There are also safety and interior updates.
There has been ongoing speculation about the Falcon’s future in the press. The reality is that no one knows for sure what the future holds. It seems unlikely though that with Ford’s One global policy and the lack of exports, that the model can survive in its present form. The current straight six requires $70m in investment to meet Euro V and VI emissions standards by 2016, likely adoption of the ZF 8 transmission and alloy steel panels to keep the weight and fuel economy down.
The Ford Falcon is very different from the other cars Ford makes and sells around the world. It is Ford’s only rear wheel drive sedan, uses a very unusual independent rear suspension design, and is the only Ford to use ZF Friedrichshafen transmissions and the Barra engine. As a consequence the Falcon’s drive train and chassis is wholly unique in the world of motoring.
SMH Drive’s idea that Falcon will turn into a front wheel drive Taurus is ridiculous. If people want a boring large front wheel drive car they will buy a Camry or Mazda, not a Ford. Just look at Mondeo sales figures – good but not great. Not enough to sustain the brand. The last time Ford tried to sell Taurus in Australia it was a sales disaster.
Simply put, killing Falcon would kill Ford in Australia. Consider what happened to Nissan and Mitsubishi when they closed their local plants. The alternatives are not credible either. BMW and Mercedes are priced well above global prices in Australia, so people are not going to migrate to those options. Lexus is running outdated drive trains on its cheaper models. The IS250 for instance only gets marginally better fuel economy than a larger Falcon, while having none of the performance. So Lexus is not really an option. Existing Falcon customers would simply buy Commodore, as an affordable rear wheel drive replacement.
There was some speculation that Falcon would adopt the new Mustang rear wheel drive chassis. Apparently Ford Australia is currently in an internal Ford competition to win the chassis design. I don’t know if that is true or not. It seems like the most plausible direction if Ford wants Falcon to survive. It would also require exports to make the business case work and probably dropping the straight six and going for the Ecoboost V6 engine. Certainly it would be a cheaper option than bringing the straight 6 in line with government regulations. My understanding is that Ford was hoping that the now defunct Federal government car fund would pay for the $70m R&D.
Alternatively Ford could sell off its manufacturing and engineering capability to the Chinese. Seems pretty unlikely though. Not because the Chinese would not want to buy – they do – but because Ford would not want to sell to a competitor. Ford would probably just migrate its engineering expertise in Australia to other parts of the company and moth ball Broadmeadows. The Chinese would not want just the plant.