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Ford to kill Falcon badge too

Final Falcon: Ford president and CEO Bob Graziano has confirmed that the Falcon name will be killed off when production ceases in 2016, but the Territory could live on.

Iconic Falcon badge to die alongside Ford’s Australian plants in 2016

Ford logo23 May 2013

By MIKE COSTELLO

FORD’S iconic, six-decade old Falcon badge will die with the company’s Australian manufacturing operations in 2016.

The news means that any potential new imported Ford sedan sold Down Under beyond 2016 will instead wear a global badge – in-line with the global One Ford strategy.

However, Ford has not ruled out putting the Territory badge on a future imported SUV – potentially a variation of the global Explorer – when the current locally made version ceases.

Launched here in 1960, the Falcon sedan – as well as its discontinued wagon and existing ute variations – has long been the heart of Ford’s local operations, and for many years dominated the local sales charts alongside its equally famous arch-rival, Holden’s Commodore.

But as the market has fragmented, and as buyers have shifted from large sedans into small-cars and SUVs, the Falcon’s sales (and the large-car segment overall), have dwindled to just a fraction of their former numbers.

At its peak in 1995, Ford sold around 81,000 Falcons in Australia, but last year this had dwindled to just over 14,000 (plus an extra 5733 utes). In that same time, total new vehicle sales in Australia have actually grown by around 25 per cent.

27 center imageLeft: Original 1960s Ford Falcon.

Holden will keep producing Commodores here until at least 2022, although later this decade will replace the new VF with a different model based on a global architecture (possibly a front-drive one).

But Ford Australia will not apply the Falcon badge to any imported car post-2016, even if it hasn’t exactly ruled out selling a global D segment large sedan here in the current FG Falcon’s place.

Ford Australia CEO Bob Graziano told GoAuto today that the decision to close the plants – one, he adds, that “was not taken lightly” - would be the right time to retire Falcon. Mr Graziano spoke with us just hours after he had broken the news of the impending plant closures to Ford staff.

“I honestly believe it (Falcon) is so closely linked to Australia and to local production that the right thing for us is to retire the name with vehicle in October 2016,” he said.

But Mr Graziano said the company was less set on its plans for the Territory badge. The Falcon-based SUV has won many plaudits since its introduction in 2004, and unlike its Falcon sibling, has continued to sell in strong numbers of late – a sign of the shift to SUVs across the market.

“That’s one that we are working on, we potentially may continue to use the Territory name on another product, but we have not taken any decisions on that,” he said.

“It’s my view that Falcon will retire, and Territory we are just beginning the dialogue around.” It’s too early to speculate with any certainty on any potential future ‘Territory’ vehicle, but news that Ford’s well-regarded Australian design and engineering centre will stay in business well beyond 2016 could potentially point to some local involvement.

Ford’s APA (Asia, Pacific and Africa) design and engineering centre in Victoria developed not just the Territory, but also the global Ranger ute and its yet-to-be-seen, but forthcoming, SUV derivation, based on the same T6 platform.

While the Falcon is now officially on death row, Mr Graziano refuted suggestions that large sedans as a whole were going the way of the dodo.

“I don’t think it’s a dead car walking,” he said. “I think there are still a number of customers out there, though a much smaller part of the industry, but there are individuals that truly want and value this type of vehicle, and they’re the ones we want to provide to over the next three years.”

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