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FPV “returns home” as Ford takes over full assembly

Australia’s most powerful V8 muscle car – the FPV GT – now built in-house by Ford

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FPV logo18 Feb 2013

FORD Australia today hailed the “return of a hero” as a GT-badged Falcon rolled off its Victorian production line for the first time in 37 years.

From this week, all Ford Performance Vehicles (FPV) models – including the 335kW supercharged V8 GT – will get final assembly at a special ‘hot shop’ within Ford’s Broadmeadows plant, in a section previously used for general storage.

The last time a Falcon GT emerged fully assembled from the plant was in June 1976.

Between 1967 and 1976, Ford’s Victorian plant produced almost 12,000 GTs, including all four phases of the legendary Bathurst-winning GTHO.

The Blue Oval announced its intention to bring FPV in-house last August, when it signed a memorandum of understanding to buy the remaining 51 per cent stake in the business from previous owner, British company Prodrive.

Ford officially took ownership of the assets required to engineer, manufacture and market FPV at the end of 2012, but has largely manned its new sub-assembly area with staff from its main assembly line, rather than previous FPV workers.

Ford Australia assembly plant manager Andrew Higginbotham told GoAuto that the new team on the FPV floor – consisting of 10 full-time assemblers – was made up of Ford veterans, many of them previously team-leaders at the general assembly area.

Under the new assembly process, Falcon models selected to become FPVs are built on the regular Ford line, with engines produced alongside the regular units at the separate Geelong factory.

The FPV sub-assembly team then fits new bumpers, wheels, badges, the supercharger airbox, decals and stickers, and Data Dot security. The total process takes about a day and a half.

Maximum production is eight vehicles per day, but the team has been asked to operate initially at a rate of five cars a day.

Ford Australia president and CEO Bob Graziano told media at today’s unveiling of the first in-house FPV – a black GT sedan – that bringing its performance vehicles in-house was an important and symbolic move.

“Designed for our enthusiast customers, FPV vehicles are the hero cars of our local line-up and aregenuine performance machines,” he said.

“The individual customer experience that comes with FPV ownership starts right here in the new FPV Assembly Facility, where each FPV is hand-finished for individual customers. It is all part of a very special ownership experience that comes with each FPV.”

However, Mr Graziano said the company would stick with FPV badging for the foreseeable future, rather than going all the way and dusting off the ‘Falcon GT’ name.

Despite the new arrangement – which the company claims will cut production costs and improve efficiency – there will be no change to pricing or model range.

Instead, Mr Graziano said the company would use these new efficiencies to “improve the quality of the build process”, saying the company targeted “quality enhancements, whether it’s craftsmanship, squeak and rattle or absolute quality from an exterior perspective”.

Ford attributes the efficiency gains to the elimination of double-handling of the vehicles – they no longer need to be relocated unfinished – as well as the new line’s closer proximity to the company’s quality control centre.

Furthermore, important parts such as the exhaust vacuum tube can be assembled on the production line and left assembled, rather than being removed and re-assembled off-site.

Mr Graziano poured cold water on any imminent expansion of the FPV range to incorporate other Ford models, or through the expansion of the Falcon-based range – thereby ruling out (for now) a return of the legendary GTHO.

“There’s always a desire to do that, and I hear from people every day that they’d love to see a GTHO come back, but there’s no plans for that vehicle,” he said.

As before, the FPV range will comprise both ute and sedan body styles, variously powered by a 310kW turbocharged six, or a supercharged Miami 5.0-litre V8 in two different states of tune – the 315kW GS or 335kW GT, GT-P, GT-E and limited edition GT-RSPEC.

Pricing will continue to range from $52,990 plus on-road costs for the GS ute to $82,490 for the GT-E sedan.

Ford Australia vice president of marketing, sales and service Brad Brownell told GoAuto the company saw an opportunity to expand FPV sales by “targeting buyers that are maybe buying other brands, and making them part of the FPV family”, but did not go into detail.

In 2012, FPV accounted for about eight per cent of Falcon’s 14,036 sales total.

While assembly has commenced at Broadmeadows, the Miami V8 – to be built at Ford’s Geelong plant – will not come on stream until April.

GoAuto understands the company still has around 50 older engines to use up before switching to the new engine.

2013 FPV pricing*
GS ute$52,990
F6 ute$55,990
GS sedan$57,870
F6 sedan$64,390
GT sedan$70,790
F6-E sedan$76,440
GT-P sedan$82,040
GT-E sedan$82,490
GT-RSPEC Pursuit ute$57,990
GT-RSPEC sedan$76,990
*Plus on-road costs

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