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Ford to reveal Falcon future soon

Direction: If a subtle hint from Ford’s global design boss is taken as a guide, expect the redesigned 2016 Falcon to take cues from the aggressive Mad Max show car.

Future of Ford Australia’s Falcon to be revealed within six months

13 Sep 2011


FORD will reveal the future of its long-running Falcon within six months, ending years of speculation about the Blue Oval’s plans for large car manufacturing in Australia.

That is according to Ford Motor Company design chief, J Mays, who told GoAuto at a function on the eve of the Frankfurt motor show in Germany that he would reveal what form the next-generation Falcon will take in “a couple of (motor) shows”.

Ford previously confirmed the current Falcon, a facelifted version of which will go on sale in October before the first four-cylinder model hits showrooms next February, would be the last not to share a global chassis architecture under the company’s One Ford platform-sharing strategy.

Former Ford Australia president Marin Burela also previously revealed that a decision on the next-generation Falcon – due to appear five years from now in 2016 – would be made either this year or early in 2012.

Now, Mr Mays has not only confirmed that, but promised Ford will make its decision public within months.

“This just isn’t the show talk about it, but it won’t be too far away,” he said. “Forgive me for that but if I take the lid off the paint jar everyone else gets upset with me.

“Hit me at a couple more shows and we can talk about it.”

27 center imageLeft: Ford Evos concept.

The next international motor show after this week’s Frankfurt show takes place in Los Angeles in November, followed by North America’s largest motor show, the Detroit show in January, which would seem to be the logical place to announce a future large car from Ford.

Another senior FoMoCo executive, Ford president of the Americas Mark Fields, confirmed the decision on the next Falcon would be revealed imminently.

“It’s important we’re clear on the direction we’re heading,” he said.

“The D-segment is shrinking but still very important. We don’t want to disappoint.” Mr Mays admitted that basing Ford’s next all-new Falcon – and therefore its next new Territory – on the same platform as North America’s front-wheel and all-wheel drive Taurus, which shares its foundations with the Explorer and is also to be replaced by 2016, was one of a number of options Ford was now considering.

“We haven’t announced that,” he said. “We’re looking at a lot of different possibilities. That would be one potentially feasible one.” Mr Mays reiterated his promise when asked about the future of rear-wheel drive for Falcon.

“Let me get a couple of shows further and we'll talk about it. I'm not saying (when), I am just saying we need a couple of more shows.” Of course, another option would be to end local production of the Falcon, sales of which have plummeted even more dramatically than Australia’s large-car segment in recent years, and simply import the Taurus.

But that appears less likely given the costs involved in winding down manufacturing operations in both Geelong and Broadmeadows, the potential sales impact Ford’s status as a 100 per cent importer would have on both private and fleet sales of its other models, the dismal sales performance of the Taurus last time it was sold here, and the fact the Falcon nameplate is one of the oldest in the Ford world.

Furthermore, although a Taurus-based Falcon sedan range could not include a Falcon ute, which in that case would effectively be replaced by the Australian-engineered (but Thai-built) Ranger ute, Mr Mays all but confirmed the continuation of the 51-year-old Falcon as a uniquely designed model for Australia – at least on the outside.

Asked if any of the striking design cues of the sleek Ford Evos concept would filter down to the next Falcon, he said: “Let's put it this way … without me giving that answer away … you saw the new Mad Max car … you see the similarity on the front.

“I'll let you put the words together, but I'll just bring that up.” Ford showed two modern interpretations of the Mad Max Interceptor at the Melbourne motor show in July. The small-scale Brookliner concept designed by Ford Australia's Simon Brook most closely resembles the Evos with its inverted trapezoidal grille and ‘angry’ headlights.

If the subtle hint from Ford’s global design boss is a guide, expect the redesigned 2016 Falcon to look like the aggressive Mad Max show car.

Apart revealing the Falcon’s future there, Ford is also likely to use the Detroit show to reveal its next-generation Escape/Kuga, which like the Evos concept will wear an upmarket new evolution of Ford’s ‘kinetic’ exterior design language.

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