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Ford hints at Territory/Falcon exports

X marks the spot: IosisX further develops Ford's new global "kinetic design language", to feature on Ford's next-generation Falcon.

Ford chiefs talk up Oz talent and exports as IosisX reveals more 2008 Falcon cues

5 Oct 2006

By MARTON PETTENDY in PARIS

FORD Australia’s expanded role in global design and engineering appears to have increased its chances of an export program beyond New Zealand and South Africa, if comments by senior Ford executives at the Paris motor show last week are any guide.

Ford of Europe executive director of design Martin Smith was upbeat when asked if there were Asian export opportunities for Australia’s E8-codenamed Falcon and Territory models.

"Traditionally they have sold well in the Australian market, but I think there is an opportunity because the market is expanding and developing so rapidly in China that there are opportunities for a whole range of products, whether sourced from Europe or Australia," said Mr Smith, who has filled design roles at Porsche and Audi and, prior to joining Ford in 2004, was GM Europe’s director of design.

Asked if Ford Australia’s rear-wheel drive model architecture, codenamed E8, would need to be re-bodied for potential sales in China, Mr Smith said: "Not necessarily. The appetite for vehicles in China is so vast that there is the opportunity for everything from the American-sourced vehicles that we know GM is doing to maybe Australian-sourced vehicles for Ford." Mr Smith, who answers to Ford’s global product development chief Derrick Kuzak and Ford’s global design chief J Mays, said China also represented export opportunities for Ford of Europe, which was responsible for developing the Blue Oval’s new "kinetic" design language – as shown by the IosisX concept car and the near-production version of the Mondeo in Paris last week.

Both of these cars preview design cues for Ford Australia’s next-generation Falcon, codenamed Orion and due on sale in March 2008.

"What we do know is that the design language we are developing here in Europe is the right approach for our customers in China. And certainly for Ford of Europe we see a huge opportunity to take our vehicles into that market," Mr Smith said.

One of those vehicles, which could also come to Australia, is a four-door production version of the Mondeo wagon "concept" revealed at Paris last week. The redesigned Mondeo sedan’s exterior styling, which is yet to be revealed, was designed with input from Australian Paul Gibson, who created the next-generation Courier utility’s design.

27 center image"The guys from Australia who are responsible for the Asian market assisted us with the design development of the four-door version. They were over here in Europe working with the design team so it really was an international effort," Mr Smith said.

Mr Smith said he was in regular contact with Ford’s Melbourne-based Asia-Pacific and Africa design director Scott Strong about Asia’s next-generation light commercial, which is being developed by Ford Australia under the T6 codename. About 150 Ford Australia staff engineered India’s Fiesta sedan, launched in late 2005, along with a sedan body style for Focus.

"The Mondeo four-door is primarily developed for the Chinese and some Asian markets. We are finding kinetic design is really resonating all through Europe and Asia, so we are getting the same results if we are showing our products in Beijing, Milan or Paris," he said.

"Knowing that, we are expanding kinetic design into those markets as well, so in the future Scott will be adopting more of these design elements because we know they work well with customers.

"At the moment we’re concerned with providing cars for the Asian market and Scott and I communicate on that on a weekly basis." Asked about the global opportunities for Ford Australia’s E8 large-car platform, Ford North America’s executive director of design Peter Horbury said that GM and Holden’s shared vehicle architecture strategy was "sensible", but remained guarded about Falcon/Territory’s export prospects.

"I can’t give you any information about future products, but this is a global company and in this case the left hand knows what the right hand is doing. So I am not going to say," he said. "Ford of Australia are not totally out on a limb – we are very closely connected, as well as through design but more through engineering. We are a global organisation and they are part of it.

"(The Holden/GM strategy) is very interesting – they are not engineering the same idea two or three times over. It seems very sensible to me," he said.

Asked whether Ford’s E8 platform still stood a chance of providing the basis for a replacement for Ford’s fleet-oriented Crown Victoria sedan, Mr Horbury smiled and said: "If we ever did bring anything in we would have to make sure it is appropriate for the American market."

Falcon will be competitive, says Ford

FORD of Europe design director Martin Smith says the Blue Oval’s redesigned Falcon, due to appear by March 2008, will be "competitive" with Holden’s new VE Commodore.

And though he warned it won’t be a mirror image of the latest concept to espouse Ford’s new "kinetic" design language, the IosisX crossover that debuted at Paris last week, the next-generation Falcon will feature many of its styling elements.

"he next Falcon that has been developed and is well underway in its development for the Australian market ... going to provide a very competitive car to Commodore,"he said.

Like the original four-door Iosis "coupe" concept that appeared at Frankfurt last year and the Mondeo wagon concept that debuted alongside the IosisX at Paris this year, the redesigned Falcon will feature a rising window line, bulging wheelarches and inverted triangular elements in its front bumper.

"The elements that we described last year when we launched our new graphic design - the graphic elements such as the inverted trapezoid on the grille, the inverted DLO (daylight opening) - clearly some of those elements will be also visible in the Ford brand character elements in Australia.

"The Ford Falcon is developed in Australia with a different design team for the Australian market," he said. "There is some element of the Ford corporate look - the Ford brand character obviously - but it doesn’t draw directly from Iosis," said Mr Smith.

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