The 2011 Ford Mustang. Ford Australia's Marin Burela stressed that planning for the next new Falcon is barely into the research stage, hinting that it would be possible for the car to share much of its basic mechanical package with the next all-new Mustang.
The legendary Ford Mustang will be twinned with Australia's own Ford Falcon in a plan to drive the local brand forward beyond 2015.
The current FG Falcon is safe for at least another four years as Ford's local spearhead and plans are beginning to integrate its replacement into a new-look, globally-focussed One Ford organisation.
The move is unlikely to affect Ford Australia's local manufacturing operation, with the Falcon-based Territory SUV also set for an even longer run through to 2016, but will lead to greater efficiencies and a leaner, greener local family car. The broad sweep of the Falcon plan was outlined exclusively to the Herald Sun yesterday at the Detroit Motor Show by Ford's worldwide president, Alan Mulally. He pointed to a continued role for the Falcon in Australia within an integrated global product plan.
"We'll be in the Falcon market, yes. But as we go forward we'll continue to use all our assets around the world," Mulally said. "We have learned so much from the Falcon, because it's a dynamite car. Whatever that Falcon morphs to, for the next one, it will be available for everyone around the world.
He also effectively dismissed suggestions that the Falcon, a traditional rear-wheel drive design, would be replaced by the front-drive Taurus built for the USA. The Taurus has already failed once in Australia, in the 1990s. "We're going to have a large sedan. The whole thing about rear-wheel drive? We're going to have a rear-wheel drive car," Mulally said.
"And we've got the Mustang. So you can imagine, going forward, that there will be a next version of the Falcon that will be even better. In capital letters." Rumours of a end to the Falcon's run in Australia, and perhaps even an end to local production by Ford, were categorically denied yesterday in Detroit by the president of Ford Australia, Marin Burela.
"No company that was going to pull out of Australia would be spending $230 million on bringing the world's best powertrain technology to Australia for the Falcon," Burela told the Herald Sun.
He said the coming introduction of a four-cylinder engine in the Falcon would allow Ford to compete against new rivals, including the Toyota Camry, as well as setting a new class benchmark for engine efficiency.
"Our strategy is very clear. We took a very bold step forward when we announced a significant investment in Falcon only a few months ago. No other local manufacturer has committed that sort of investment in recent times," Burela said.
"Why did we do that? We did that to give Falcon an incremental level of growth opportunity over time."If you look at the things we have done on Falcon, and we are planning for Falcon, there is absolutely no reason for us to deviate because the plan is working."
Burela highlighted an improvement in Falcon's share of family-car sales in Australia in 2009 at the expense of the Holden Commodore, and even the need to work some weekend shifts at its factory in Broadmeadows to satisfy demand. "It's actually delivering a very, very very exciting return," he said.
Burela stressed that planning for the next new Falcon is barely into the research stage, with no urgency on any sort of commitment. He also hinted that it would be possible for the car to share much of its basic mechanical package with the next all-new Mustang, but with a local body above the mechanical package.
"The Falcon's changeover is due to take place at the end of 2014, or early in 2015. Our decisions . . . for Falcon don't have to be made until we get through to the middle of 2011. So we have time on our hands. "At the moment, all is well on the Falcon side of things. All is very well."