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‘The right thing to do’

X marks the new F6 spot: FPV-tuned Territory sprints to 100km/h in about six seconds - but no fuel consumption figures are yet available.

Ford boss hits out at claims FPV's wild upcoming F6 X super-SUV is out of step

18 Oct 2007

FORD has defended its decision to release a high-performance Ford Performance Vehicles (FPV) version of the Territory.

Dubbed F6 X, the 270kW/550Nm turbocharged six-cylinder all-wheel drive SUV has already been targeted as being out of place with many consumers’ growing concerns for the environment.

However, FPV chief Rod Barrett told GoAuto the company would have no trouble selling as many examples of the super-SUV as it could build in the first year – around 600, each with the no-cost option of seven seats – at an estimated cost of $75,000 apiece, making the F6 X FPV’s most expensive model.

Ford Australia chief Tom Gorman said there were still many consumers who desired such a vehicle, which is believed to have lapped Victoria’s Winton raceway just three seconds slower than the F6 sedan. “I think the market is a fragmented market, and that there are opportunities in every segment of the market place. Our brand is very much associated with performance motoring in this country,” he said.

Since the Territory was released in June 2004, many observers have expected FPV to break out of its solely Falcon-based product line-up and diversify in the still-strong SUV segment.

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“What we have wanted to do for some time is to see if we can extend the FPV brand,” Mr Gorman explained. “This really is a big step forward for us, and it is consistent entirely with the Ford and FPV DNA. And there is no issue with what we are doing there.

“But at the same time, maybe if you want to say, ‘Is this the right thing to be doing today?’ just look at what we are doing elsewhere – we are doing diesel on the Focus, we have a brand new diesel on Mondeo, and both of these substantially reduce our CO2 footprint as a motor company, and we are growing our small-car business.” Mr Gorman added that Ford and FPV were simply doing their job. “We are responding and going where the market wants us to go,” he said. “We’re not driving in one direction ... we’re trying to please our customers while trying to be consistent with our brand.

“And we think that taking Territory up to FPV is absolutely the right thing to do.” Asked whether Ford might appease such criticism by offering a more economical diesel alternative to the petrol-powered Territory instead of a faster and thirstier one, Mr Gorman remained philosophical: “We know we want to do it we know we are working hard on it. But we have nothing to share with you today as far as firm announcements are concerned.

“But it is something that we want to do – particularly with Territory. Our Territory volume is holding up okay, but if we had a diesel – well, there’s 20 to 25 per cent of the market that we don’t play in.

“If we can get a diesel in that product, then that is one thing that we really need. That’s going to be our challenge for us. Keeping Territory fresh,” Mr Gorman admitted.

As far as smaller, European Ford-based FPVs are concerned, Mr Gorman also still had nothing to declare.

“That’s something that we are really wrestling with. We think that we can do more with FPV, but we have to think that it must make business sense for both of us – as you know FPV is a joint-venture between ourselves and Prodrive. “(So) before we start wondering and thinking about smaller cars like (an FPV) Mondeo... we must make sure it makes business sense. And we kick those sorts of things around all the time,” said Mr Gorman.

Mr Barrett said there was no pressure on FPV to offer small imported models in its range, and suggested their inclusion may not materialise until next decade.

“We don’t have to do a Fiesta, but we would look at Focus when it (the next-generation model, to be produced at Broadmeadows from 2011) comes down the line. I don’t know that we’re suited to imports now,” he said.

With the upcoming 2008 ‘Orion’ Falcon promising to be a great shot in the arm for FPV – whose all-new Falcon-based models will be released in the second quarter of next year “weeks, not months” after the launch of the sedan and ute upon which they are based, according to Mr Barrett - the focus will soon turn back to the Falcon-derived product for the time being.

“There’s a lot more on the shelf at FPV – so don’t worry. But whether we do other extensions we really have to see whether we can make business sense out of it,” Mr Gorman reiterated.

Read more:

Sydney show: FPV unleashes its super-SUV

The Road to Recovery podcast series

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