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Mondeo base likely for Falcon replacement

Next big thing: Ford's next large car and SUV look likely to be built on the Mondeo's C/D platform.

Future Ford large car, SUV linked with 2014 Mondeo under One Ford plan

28 Sep 2012


UPDATED: 1/10/2012THE Ford Motor Company has revealed that its next-generation large car and SUV will most likely be based on the new-generation Mondeo’s global front-wheel-drive ‘C/D’ platform.

While the revelation brings into clearer view what the replacement for the Australian-built Falcon and Territory models might be after they are phased out around 2016/7, there is still no word as to what – if anything – will supplant them on the Broadmeadows production line in Melbourne.

Speaking with Ford of Europe assistant vehicle line director for C/D vehicles, Steve Pintar, at last week’s Paris motor show, GoAuto has learned that the clean-sheet Mondeo’s architecture is sophisticated and flexible enough to accommodate Ford’s large vehicle and SUV needs when the regionally based current Falcon/Territory and North American Taurus/Explorer are replaced in about four years.

“We consider the Mondeo/Fusion to compete in the C/D segment in the USA and Europe, and it’s virtually the same size as the current car,” Mr Pintar said.

“(But) there would be a potential to make it longer. We’ve done that with other platforms.

“This is an all-new platform, so right now we have the Mondeo, but we do intend to do other, what we call, ‘top hats’ or other products off of this platform.”

27 center imageLeft: Ford of Europe's Steve Pintar.

Asked if this platform would ultimately underpin the next-generation Taurus and Explorer – models that are due around the same time as the next Falcon and Territory in the second half of this decade – Mr Pintar admitted that “it is probably not an unreasonable assumption”.

However, he added that nothing has yet been officially decided.

“It could be,” he said. “But we haven’t announced anything, and by acknowledging it I’m not saying it’s (definitely) in Ford’s plans and ‘by gosh, you’ve hit it’, but conceptually it could be into those realms.”

The US auto giant has made it clear that its current Australian models will be replaced with vehicles underpinned by global architecture as part of its ‘One Ford’ program.

The company has committed to selling a large-style passenger car and SUV in Australia for years to come, but is still to announce whether these will be built here beyond 2016.

Twinning the Falcon/Territory replacements with the next Taurus/Explorer means they would most likely differ only superficially, in much the same way as the just-unveiled Mondeo is virtually identical to the US Fusion that debuted at the Detroit motor show in January.

Furthermore, being based on the Mondeo/Fusion means the C/D platform’s transverse engine and front-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive configuration would spell the end of Ford Australia’s venerable straight-six longitudinal engine and rear-wheel-drive architecture of the Falcon and related Territory.

“We haven’t designed (the C/D platform) for a RWD configuration,” Mr Pintar admitted.

Nevertheless, the switch to FWD/AWD large cars and SUVs does not automatically signal the demise of Ford vehicle manufacturing in Australia, or even the end of the famous nameplates for our market.

According to Mr Pintar, the Mondeo/Fusion would be made in Belgium, the US, Mexico, Russia and China to begin with, while other locations might follow as more models and variants are introduced.

“(In the Mondeo/Fusion case) we’re building and producing where we will sell,” he said.

While the level of Australian involvement in the Mondeo/Fusion program appears to be minor, recent multi-million dollar upgrades to computerised modelling and real-time internal communication links at Broadmeadows with other key Ford centres overseas suggest Australia still has a vital role to play in the development of future Blue Oval models.

“Ford Australia and Asia Pacific has had inputs (with Mondeo/Fusion) … with considerations for body styles and powertrains and so on … as well as some of the dynamics and tuning,” Mr Pintar said.

As with the Focus, as many as 10 different models are expected to be spun off the flexible C/D platform over the course of this decade, including replacements for the S-Max and Galaxy people-movers as well as some Lincoln luxury brand models.

In total Ford expects to sell more than one million C/D platform vehicles globally annually, yielding massive economies of scale.

“(We have) in the neighbourhood (of 10 variations) in the works right now,” Mr Pintar revealed.

“Between them are the three body styles (of Mondeo: sedan, hatch and wagon) … and there are other derivatives that will also be ready (in time).

“We haven’t announced anything specific as to whether it is taller or shorter or longer or anything … but yes, rest assured, we will use this as a global platform as well as for other variants … not just Mondeo, but other cars as well,” he said.

The forthcoming new-generation Mondeo was engineered to take on a wider list of rivals than the existing car, aiming at upmarket models such as the Volkswagen Passat as well as mainstream mid-sizers such as the Toyota Camry, Honda Accord, Nissan Altima and Chevrolet/Holden Malibu.

“We did that global benchmarking, and so determined what powertrains the new Mondeo wanted, what body styles were needed, the desirability of AWD in Europe especially, the hybrid system that’s so desirable in North America, as well as the technical features that are either not available in this segment at all, or not (available) in some configurations,” Mr Pintar said.

“And we’re especially excited about (AWD). The rear suspension is something we are very proud of. There’s a nice spot for a driveshaft. When we built this platform for North America and Europe working together as the One Ford team it was configured that it was going to have AWD as well as FWD.”

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