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Ford axes Falcon V8 and full-size spare

Into the sunset: Ford's current LTD and its V8 will be scrapped in months.

Ford drops optional 5.4-litre V8 and follows Holden to fit Falcon with space-saver

Ford logo10 Aug 2007

By JAMES STANFORD

Ford Australia has killed off its optional V8 engine after the Canadian plant that produced it was closed.

The company has also announced today that it will follow the lead of Holden and its VE Commodore by switching from full-size to space-saver spare wheels in its Falcon this year.

The V8 decision affects the three-valve overhead-camshaft 5.4-litre engine that was optional for the Fairlane and Falcon sedan, wagon and ute, and standard fitment for the G8 Fairlane and LTD.

Ford Australia will continue to offer the partly locally assembled four-valve DOHC version of the same V8 in its Falcon XR8 and FPV GT models.

The soon-to-be-deceased V8 was introduced as a base-model option for the BA Falcon model in 2002, replacing the ancient 5.0-litre Windsor pushrod V8.

It was known as the Barra 220 or Barra 230, depending on the application, with the numbers referring to the maximum power output of the engine in kiloWatts. In announcing the demise of the optional V8 engine, Ford Australia president Tom Gorman revealed how poor the sales of the powerplant have been in the last few months.

“We were down to about 10 a month, so it is not going to be a major impact on the business,” he said.

Ford’s Essex plant in Windsor, Ontario, had produced the 24-valve V8 which also powered the F-Series truck since the plant was expanded as part of a $900 million investment in 2002.

Meantime, Ford Australia will stop including full-size spare wheels as standard fitment on its Falcon sedan and wagon models from this October.

They will be fitted with a steel space-saver wheel. The company has also reduced the price of optional full-size alloy wheel from $400 to $250. A 16-inch steel spare wheel will be a $100 option.

Importantly, Falcon Ute and Territory will continue to have a full-size spare wheel fitted as standard.

The move to fit a space-saver for the regular Falcon range has been made to reduce costs after prices were cut last month in the lead-up to the next-generation model that is expected to go on sale next April.

It comes after Holden was heavily criticised for removal a full-size spare for the VE Commodore when it launched last August.

Holden insiders spoke of their call centres being inundated with calls complaining about the move at the time and then Ford indicated it had no plan to switch to a space-saver.

Today, Mr Gorman said the general media reaction to Holden’s switch to a space-saver was not matched by consumer sentiment in the long term.

“When Holden came out with theirs, we said we would look at it, but we weren’t complimentary to be blunt,” Mr Gorman said.

“But what we have done is to look and see if the customer cares.” Mr Gorman said this researched revealed most customers were indifferent to whether their vehicle was fitted with a full-size spare wheel.

“We have looked at where the customer is and the customer doesn’t value it. As part of the value equation we have created with Falcon, you look at everything that we have done it terms of price realignment plus content additions. This is consistent with the overall strategy to give the customer what they really value.” Mr Gorman said replacing the full-size spare wheel with a space-saver would reduce the weight of Falcons by almost 5kg, which benefits the customer.

“It does overall make the vehicle lighter, which is a good story for real-world fuel economy,” he said.

The next-generation Falcon will also be fitted with a space-saver spare.

While Ford Australia was prepared to give up the advantage of having a full-size spare wheel, it will not follow Holden’s Commodore lead and move away from a practical split/folding rear seatback.

Mr Gorman said Ford viewed that having split-fold rear seats was a competitive advantage and was not prepared to walk away from that.

“Some of these things you are not just going to match what the other guy does if you don’t think it is a competitive advantage, but we do think it (a folding rear seat) is.”

Read more:

Ford axes Fairlane

Fairlane on skid row

Fairlane, LTD future hangs in the balance

Fairlane may yet return


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