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No Falcon EcoBoost problem: Ford

Delayed on purpose: The release of the EcoBoost turbo-four Falcon has been held back due to a bottleneck of projects, but next-gen LPI gas variant will be here in July.

Falcon LPI and facelift on target but EcoBoost delayed amid global Ford projects

22 Mar 2011

FORD Australia says it has deliberately delayed the introduction of its ground-breaking EcoBoost Falcon amid a bottleneck of global engineering projects to provide maximum exposure for the release of its first four-cylinder large car.

While the turbo-four Falcon will become available later than expected in January or February following the traditional Christmas holiday period, Ford has revealed the new-generation Liquid Phase Injection (LPI) LPG system for its Falcon will go on sale earlier than expected in July, while the updated 2012 Falcon continues to be on target for release in September or October.

Last week, Ford announced the availability of Australia’s first EcoBoost engine – in this case a lower-output version of the 2.0-litre turbocharged direct-injection four-cylinder engine that Ford said would become available alongside the new LPI engine in the Falcon this year – in the Mondeo by mid-2011.

In the same press release, Ford said the turbo-four Mondeo would mark the first of a number of EcoBoost engine applications in Australia, including the introduction of a more powerful version in the Falcon EcoBoost “over the next 12 months”, leading to reports that Ford’s landmark four-cylinder Falcon had been delayed.

Ford has since confirmed the Falcon EcoBoost’s official release may not take place until February 1, but insists the later on-sale date is not the result of any technical or production delay and follows Ford’s decision to launch the vital new and more fuel-efficient Falcon after – rather than immediately before – the Christmas/holiday period.

27 center imageFrom top: Ford MC Mondeo, EcoBoost engine, Ranger, Territory, Figo.

“There is no problem,” said Ford Australia public affairs director Sinead McAlary. “It is simply a launch issue. There is no point launching a significant new technology in the lead-up to Christmas and the holiday period because nobody is interested at that time.

“Falcon LPI will be launched in July, Falcon freshening activity will take place either late in the third quarter or early in the fourth and Falcon EcoBoost was always going to be launched very late this year because we can’t do everything at once.” Ms McAlary said Ford may still launch Falcon EcoBoost in December as planned, but had now decided to postpone production and retail sales of the model until after its traditional Christmas plant shut-down in December/January.

GoAuto understands the move aims to maximise initial sales of the Falcon EcoBoost to both private and business buyers, many of which do not return to the market until February, and Ford says the less compromised LPG system will allow it to target more retail buyers than it previously has with LPG-powered Falcon models.

Meantime, the Falcon’s new dedicated liquid-injection LPG system, developed in conjunction with Orbital, is now expected to beat Holden’s new gas-injection LPG system for the Commodore to market when it is released in four months.

Both the Geelong-built LPI six-cylinder and imported EcoBoost four-cylinder engines are expected to slash fuel consumption but not performance in the Falcon, while the new-generation LPG system should also eliminate the packaging problems associated with previous LPG models.

Within 12 months, both new engines will power the facelifted Falcon, which goes on sale in about six months and is expected to bring a number of cosmetic and technical advanced introduced with the 2011 Territory due on sale in May.

In the first half of this year, however, expect Ford dealers to offer attractive retail incentives as they attempt to arrest a worrying 43.5 per cent Falcon sales slump so far in 2011. Along with the LPI Falcon, all-new Ranger and third-generation Focus models are also expected on sale in the third quarter of this year As GoAuto has reported, apart from developing LPI, EcoBoost and facelifted versions of the Falcon, the facelifted and diesel-powered Territory, a wagon version of own Australian-engineered T6 Ranger ute and a number of other global Ford projects, Ford Australia and its US parent company is currently considering the configuration of the next Falcon due on sale by 2015.

Also among up to eight global engineering tasks for Ford Australia is the development of the Figo – a small city sedan based on the previous-generation Fiesta platform – for global markets beyond India, where it went on sale last year.

The Figo is now also on sale in South Africa and Mexico will be next in a series of emerging market launches, but as the global development centre for the volume-selling small car Ford Australia is also engineering the Figo for a host of other markets – potentially including Australia.

“We lead product development work for the Figo,” said Ms McAlary. “It’s not a lot of work but our product development department is involved with numerous other global projects, some of which it is leading.” Asked if the Figo was likely to join Ford Australia’s line-up as a rival for the growing number of sub-light or sub-$13,000 models from Suzuki, Holden, Nissan, Chery and other upcoming Chinese brands, Ms McAlary said: “Not at this stage.

“It’s a matter of Figo’s (equipment) content and price fitting into the range below Fiesta. It’s not there at this stage.”

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