Ford is the latest manufacturer to join the rush to space-saver spare tyres. From October the Falcon range will come with a temporary space-saver spare tyre as standard despite the company's insistence last year that there were no plans to follow Holden's lead.
“There was criticism of Holden when the VE was launched without a full-size spare and some of it was from us,” Ford Australia President Tom Gorman conceded in announcing the Blue Oval's move.
Holden launched its VE range with a standard space-saver spare, an industry first for the Australian-made family-car market.
“Since then we have been watching the market and this is where the market is moving. Consumers are telling us by what they are buying that a temporary spare tyre is not a major issue.”
Gorman says a full-size spare will be available as an option in line with Holden's marketing, and the price of a full-size alloy has been cut from $400 to $150, while a 16 inch steel spare is $100.
“It has become obvious that the full-size spare gave us no commercial advantage in the market,” Gorman says. While the move will trim 5kg from the Falcon's overall weight, Gorman says it will not provide any significant savings for the company in production costs nor shift the Falcon's fuel-economy rating.
“There are some small savings but nothing that is going to make any real impact,” he says.
While the last of current Falcons will be made with a spare tyre well capable of holding the optional full-size wheel, that will not be the case when the new Orion range arrives early next year.
Gorman says the market's acceptance of space-savers spares will provide extra flexibility for the Orion cars with the possibility of two boot configurations, one for customers who are satisfied with a space-saver and want extra storage space and another for those who specify a full-size spare.
Ford has also deleted the Barra 220 and Barra 230 V8s from its engine range.
The decision to no longer offer the 5.4-litre 24-valve engine was driven by the Ford North American's decision to close the Essex plant in Windsor, Ontario, where the engine is made.
“In reality it is not that big a decision,” he says. “We were only selling around 10 of those engines a month. We are not talking big numbers.”
The affected models are the Fairmont Ghia, the Fairlane G220 and G8 and the LTD. The XR performance cars will not be affected as they use the 32-valve V8 which is still freely available.
Gorman says Ford Australia has stockpiled enough of the three-valve engines to meet model demand until the arrival of the Orion. While Ford struggles to bolster its Falcon sales in the run-up to the arrival of the all-new model early next year, Gorman says he still has faith that the new car market will tip one million sales this year.
“There are a couple of factors that could impact in the latter half of the year,” Gorman says. “Interest rates (rising) will have an effect. The federal election is another factor out of our control, but in any event the market will be one million and that will be a record.”