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F6X to stay an FPV staple

Sports sedan: FPV's 2008 range will take Ford's new Falcon to new heights.

With its first SUV and a redesigned Falcon-based range, FPV is set for a sales spike

6 Feb 2008

FORD PERFORMANCE VEHICLE general manager Rod Barrett is counting on a bumper sales year in 2008, hoping to easily eclipse the 2144 unit record established in 2006.

At the vanguard of this growth – and hot on the heels of the Ford Territory Turbo-based F6X 270 launched late last month – will be the Orion Falcon versions in four-door sedan and two-door coupe-utility guise.

“Our focus will be on the new Orion launch coming up from February, with a car on sale in late May or early June.

“And we are confident of exceeding our targets,” Mr Barrett said.

FPV – a 51/49 per cent joint venture with Prodrive and Ford Australia – is expecting a surge in orders as customers have been holding back for the new-generation models to appear.

Nevertheless, despite their imminent arrival and the embarrassing images of several FPV Orion sedans found in a Melbourne tip in August last year, Mr Barrett has announced that he is pleased with the 2007 sales result.

“We were only 17 units short of 2006 – which was a record year for us.

“And in the fourth quarter of last year we had a record 795 retail sales... which eclipsed the previous quarter by 200 units,” he added.

Mr Barrett pointed to the sell-out success of the Cobra editions of the FPV GT, which sold out in a matter of days following its Bathurst unveiling.

Boasting a 302kW V8, the Cobra’s colour scheme mimicked the 1978 XC Falcon Hardtop Cobra (while its 302kW power output harked back to the original Cobra’s 151kW 302 cubic-inch V8 capacity) that Ford conjured up as a spoiler to the then all-new Holden VB Commodore, as well as to help the firm get rid of the chronically unloved two-door hardtops in the lead up to the 1979 XD Falcon’s launch.

Almost three quarters of FPVs sold last year were sedans, with utility models accounting for 26 per cent. Of these, V8 purchases outstrip the turbocharged six-cylinder F6 vehicles two-to-one.

Mr Barrett expects to maintain the latter status quo despite the advent of the F6X 270 SUV, which is a turbo-only proposition.

19 center image And although he will not reveal sales expectations, Mr Barrett did confirm that only 601 F6X 270s would be built this year.

“Falcon-based cars are always going to dominate, I think,” he believes, adding that it is unlikely the F6X will reach the utility’s percentage level of the FPV sales pie.

I don’t know if the SUV will get to that sort of figure. It may in the future. But we haven’t sold a car yet, so we don’t have a market feel for it yet. But within six months I will definitely know.

However, Mr Barrett denied that the F6X’s modest production numbers are just a toe-in-the-water exercise to gauge the reaction to an FPV SUV.

“The F6X is borne out of the success of the Territory Ghia Turbo, and it was the right thing for FPV to do,” he said.

“It came through media speculation and plenty of consumer demand. We believe it is the right thing to do now, and we are committed to keep doing it in the future.

“As long as the mother car (Territory) is still around we will always consider doing (and FPV version) in the future.

Mr Barrett also revealed that FPV is preparing a successor to the SY F6X, based on the facelifted Territory that is expected to be unveiled inside the next 12 months.

“There is a new model coming out in the beginning of 2009, and there will definitely be an F6X range of that as well,” he admitted.

Speculation suggests that the next F6X will have its power output bumped up to 290 or 300kW, in line with the uprated engines in the Orion F6 Typhoon and Tornado.

“I think that this car – the F6X 270 – is a fantastic base for an evolution, for things that we haven’t done right or things that we have done really well, to include in the new model.

“This is a good base to start,” he added.

Expect to see traditional signature FPV items like a starter button, a dual exhaust system and probably larger alloy wheels than the 18-inch items that the Territory Ghia Turbo already offers on the 2009 F6X.

Unfortunately Mr Barrett quashed any rumours of an ‘F8X’ Territory-based SUV brandishing V8 power.

“I am satisfied with the inline-six at the moment developing 270kW of power. And I think there is a lot of engineering to be done to get an eight-cylinder engine into that bodyshell. And we are dictated by the amount of engineering that is going into the mother car. But it would be an interesting vehicle.” On the dealership front, Mr Barrett is keen to keep the 78 FPV dealers he has nationally happy by increasing their volume as the expected sales growth materialises.

“It is really about quality and not quantity,” he said.

“We would love to grow vertically but we still have to work on the horizontal base,” he emphasised.

Read more:

First official look: Orion Falcon finally outed

Brisbane show: $9000 Falcon lure

The Road to Recovery podcast series

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