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Commodore beater!

Ford takes the local approach to tackling Holden’s global car

Ford logo1 Oct 2004

THE next generation Ford Falcon is being developed with one specific goal: to be a Commodore beater.

So says the blue oval’s global product development chief, Richard Parry-Jones.

The BA series replacement is due to arrive on the market around 12-18 months after the all-new VE Commodore launches in the first half of 2006.

But while VE will be based on the all-new Zeta global architecture, Mr Parry-Jones confirmed the Falcon would continue to be a stand-alone evolution of what has gone before.

But that, he says, will be no impediment to its ability to compete successfully against Commodore.

“I can assure you that the mindset within Ford Australia - with which we are totally aligned - is not that we will simply go out there and match Holden,” Mr Parry-Jones told E-News at the Paris motor show.

“No, no, no. Beating Holden is the only game in town.” Mr Parry-Jones lavished praise on the Australian division’s design and engineering ability, saying their attitude ensured the next Falcon would be top quality.

“I am really proud of what the Ford Australia design and development team have done down there,” he said. “I think they have developed themselves now into a class act. Attention to detail, pushing that last few per cent.

“The difference between a good car and a great car is not very much, it’s five per cent, will power. Push, push. They have got that. It’s born into the culture.” Mr Parry-Jones revealed that for the next generation Falcon some “modules” from the Territory cross-over would migrate across.

He said this was the cost-efficient way to ensure the future of both vehicles. Such a move makes sense as the level of commonisation between the two cars isn’t that high at the moment.

“The way we are thinking and working is we have actually got most of what needs to be right... on the Falcon is right,” Mr Parry-Jones explained. “But there are elements of the vehicle that we have the opportunity to update and we have already demonstrated some of those opportunities by launching the Territory.

“So what you will see is more of a rolling evolution of modernising subsystems to keep the vehicle fully competitive.” He highlighted the front suspension of Territory as a “module” that would be adapted into the next generation Falcon.

“If you look at the current Falcon and compare it with the Territory you will no doubt observe a significant number of differences even if they have the same basic layout, architecture. There are many substantive differences between the two cars of which the most striking is the front suspension,” he said.

The Territory employs a locally developed front suspension “Virtual Pivot Control Link” design, while the Falcon has long employed a double A-arm.

Mr Parry-Jones also expressed confidence that the 4.0-litre inline six-cylinder engine could successfully meet emissions requirements and roll into the next generation, and hinted that Ford Australia was pondering the launch of a diesel engine in its utility range, before spreading it into Territory. He endorsed diesel power for the Falcon as well.

TERRITORY EXPORTS: ALL IN THE TIMING

Ford’s global product development chief, Richard Parry-Jones, believes Ford Australia’s Territory could become a hit in the growing Chinese market.

He said response had been very strong to the vehicle when it was shown at the Beijing auto show earlier this year.

“The question is really one of timing. When do you do it? When is the market big enough? Can you make a business case?” he said.

“Exports to China are very difficult because you really have to manufacture locally. There is a huge number of business unknowns and I don’t want to spark a round of headlines saying ‘Territory to be manufactured in China’.

“There is no plan to do that. I am just speculating, if you look at the types of products that are down there, where might those products be appealing elsewhere in the world.

“I even think a left-hand drive version of Territory with a diesel engine put into the European market, if you road tested it against some of the indigenous competition, I don’t think the Territory would be at all embarrassed.” He added that amortising development costs across Territory and Falcon helped Ford Australia retain its unique vehicle architecture, even without any significant export opportunities.

“Ford Australia have shown that by being imaginative about the way they use the platform locally they have generated a pretty healthy business that is sustainable.

“And I think with that mindset there’s no reason at all why the Falcon can’t continue to have its own platform even if we can’t successfully marry other partners within the Ford family.”

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