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Ford  More to come: Falcon's Barra six (above) and Ford boss Tom Gorman (below).

More to come: Falcon's Barra six (above) and Ford boss Tom Gorman (below).

Ford: there's more economy to come from Falcon as new Holden, Toyota large cars loom

FORD Australia has identified fuel economy as key factor in keeping its Falcon relevant until the next-generation large car arrives in 2007.

"We plan to improve fuel economy going forward," said president Tom Gorman. "We’ve got a lot of things that we want to do to make that car better."

When Ford released its BF Falcon late last year it made fuel economy gains of up to 11 per cent on some models. Mr Gorman has now revealed that more will be achieved with its staple 4.0-litre six-cylinder engine.

"We can do more with Falcon from a fuel economy standpoint," he said. "There are a lot of strategies going forward that are applicable to that engine."

Ford is mindful of the arrival of newer large-car rivals in the VE Commodore and Toyota Aurion later this year, but skyrocketing fuel prices and increasing concerns over global oil supplies have refocused attention on the fuel economy of the traditional Aussie six.

Holden’s new VE is believed to have fattened up by as much as 140kg on some models, given its increased safety credentials.

However, the added weight is sure to have put pressure on fuel economy from the 3.6-litre Alloytec V6, which is why Holden is tipped to offer a standard five-speed automatic (as well as a six-speed auto on its V8 models).

Ford center imageBy contrast, Ford opted for a ZF six-speed automatic on its high-end BF Falcon and SY Territory models, in an effort to drive lower fuel consumption.

Mr Gorman (left) said that as time moved on and technology evolved, there was more Ford could do with Falcon. But taking weight out of the car, which aided fuel consumption, was always going to be a challenge. It came down to a cost versus weight trade-off.

"We have a lot of strategies – that we’re not going to share – to take weight out but we also want to add features and make it safer and improve performance and improve NVH (noise, vibration and harshness)," he said. "All of that has a lot to do with weight."

Mr Gorman said he did not think Falcon would go on a crash diet to get better fuel economy, but rather adopt better engine strategies "which would largely be software driven".






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