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Grid lock for FPV, but Focus RS still in the mix

WRCar: Ford's turbocharged, all-wheel drive Focus RS rally weapon.

Ford Performance Vehicles moves slowly on non-Falcon fast cars, but there is hope

7 Nov 2005

FORD Australia’s performance car division will consider expanding its range beyond Falcon-based models - but only if it has the opportunity to enhance an imported vehicle’s engine output and dynamics.

Ford Performance Vehicles marketing and sales manager Roger Gray has given a tentative response to reports that Ford of Europe is preparing a WRC-bred turbocharged and all-wheel drive Focus RS derivative.

"Certainly if or when it becomes available we’d like to have a look," he told GoAuto. "But to wear an FPV badge, it will have to have some level of involvement by FPV.

"We’re not interested in taking something ... and just putting an FPV badge on it without becoming involved in how the vehicle performs." He said containing costs would be another hurdle for any potential low-volume import that underwent FPV treatment.

"If you are paying (to develop Australian-specification) wheels or exhausts or engines then you are essentially paying for a second set," he said. "It’s then going to be harder to pass that vehicle on to a buyer at a price that will remain competitive.

"It doesn’t mean it is impossible, but it does mean it is more challenging than (altering a vehicle) from an Australian plant."

19 center image Such factors mean that FPV has already ruled out a version of the turbocharged front-wheel drive Focus XR5 shown at last month’s Australian International Motor Show in Sydney.

At the same event, Holden’s performance arm HSV unveiled the AH Astra-based turbocharged four-cylinder VXR, which was developed by the Opel Performance Centre in Germany and is set to become a member of the HSV range next year.

"The XR5 Turbo is a great product and has a fantastic fit in the Ford line-up, and I think it will be very successful for Ford – but it wasn’t meant to be an FPV (car), Mr Gray said.

"And I’m not sure how much HSV has had a look in with the Astra." FPV will instead concentrate on selling 2500 of its Falcon-based models in 2006, up from this year’s 2200 forecast and 1500 in 2004.

An FPV version of the Territory is also known to be in development, however, Mr Gray said it was not in the current business plan.

"While it certainly holds an appeal from a market acceptance standpoint, there’s still a lot of work that we have to do, and we don’t have an approved program," he said.

Ford Australia president, Tom Gorman, put a more sobering view on the likelihood of FPV models beyond Falcon-based product.

"I’d rather move slow and miss an opportunity than rush with new product and lessen or reduce the value of the brand," he said.

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