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Ford RWD ‘rethink’
Ford global product chief says large rear-drive car future must now be reconsidered
15 Jul 2008
By TERRY MARTIN
THE Ford Motor Co’s global development program for large rear-wheel drive cars is now being reviewed in light of rising fuel costs and changing market trends.
Global product development chief Derrick Kuzak has told US industry journal Automotive News that he is reconsidering the program, which sources indicate was on track for the 2013 model year.
“We need to understand the role of those vehicles, given the change in the market mix,” Mr Kuzak said, but added that development work continued at full speed.
The role of Ford Australia in the future global RWD program is still to be confirmed.
Mr Kuzak met with Ford Australia president Bill Osborne in May to discuss the program, which Mr Osborne – prior to the visit – said would include the case for increased exports from Australia.
“We are going to have some very open discussions about all kinds of future products. Large cars will be on the agenda as well,” Mr Osborne told GoAuto at the time.
Left: Global product development chief Derrick Kuzak.
“I would say the purpose of the meeting would be to ensure we have the most robust strategy for Ford Australia going forward and I do believe that part of that strategy includes exports.”
At the launch of the FG Falcon, Mr Osborne and Ford Australia’s product development vice-president Trevor Worthington said Australia was well placed to take a lead role in the development of Ford’s global RWD program.
“We’ll leverage all the experience and expertise we have here in Australia for any global rear-wheel drive platform in the future – I think Australia will play a big role in that, simply because our expertise here is quite strong and is evidenced really in the new Falcon,” Mr Osborne said.
Mr Worthington confirmed that Australia was involved in developing the global RWD program and said he was “confident” his team would end up playing “the right” role.
“We have a seat at the table with global rear-wheel drive,” he said. “A lot of the pre-planning with ‘bandwidth’ – what size it should be – all of that work is happening, and we are definitely part of that process,” he said.
“But we work for a global company and there are skills and experience all around the world … The advantage we’ve got right now is that we have this great car that senior people in the company have driven.
“At the end of the day, all those decisions have still got to be made, but I feel pretty confident that we’ll play the right role.”
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