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Ford yet to decide Aussie engine future

Big decision: Ford's global product development VP Derrick Kuzak will have the final say on the future of the Falcon's Australian-made inline-six.

Top executive to evaluate post-Euro 5 future of Ford Australia six-cylinder engine

Ford logo18 Jan 2010

By JAMES STANFORD in DETROIT

FORD global product development vice-president Derrick Kuzak says he is yet to make a decision on whether to upgrade the Australian Ford six-cylinder to meet upcoming Euro 5 emission standards.

The unique I6 engine and its Geelong production facility had been scheduled to be killed off this year and be replaced by an imported V6, with 400 jobs set to be lost.

One of the main reasons for this direction, apart from the fact that the proposed V6 was expected to be cheaper, was that Ford Australia would save money by not having to develop the engine to meet the Euro 4 emission standards this July.

Incoming Ford Australia president Marin Burela was able to push to have the decision reversed and announced a $21 million upgrade for the factory.

A new deadline is looming for the venerable powerplant, with a federal government draft report prepared by the transport department recommending the Euro 5 emissions standard be introduced in Australia between 2012 and 2014. The deadline for petrol engines, including the Ford Australia I6, should the report be approved and legislated, would be 2013.

With a new Falcon due in late 2014 or 2015, which is almost certain to run on a global platform not designed for an in-line six, the long-term future of the I6 engine is bleak, although there is always a chance the plant could be re-tooled to produce new engines.

27 center imageGoAuto asked Mr Kuzak about the future of the I6 engine plant in light of low volume.

"These are decisions around customers and the business and we do have installed investment in terms of facility and engineering," he said.

"You are right, it is relatively low volume, so what we will do is compare the cost of upgrading to the latest emission standards versus trying to do a higher volume engine that is not installed in Australia and would obviously have to be shipped.

“We will have to look at the whole business case." Mr Kuzak stressed he was not aware of the details of the study into introduction of Euro 5 emissions standards in Australia, which had been released just days before the interview, but added that Ford had known the new regulations would be coming up.

"As you might guess, I already started down analysis recognising that there was going to be an emissions upgrade coming," he said.

"But I can tell you that we haven’t made the decision yet because we don’t have to make it yet." In the same interview, Mr Kuzak talked up the Asia Pacific engineering centre, based at Ford Australia's Campbellfield headquarters, which is working on the global T6 ute program, and said that it would have a long-term role for Ford globally.

Asked if this engineering centre could continue if Ford Australia ceased local production, Mr Kuzak said: "We clearly have a great deal of confidence in that team. You look at the Asia Pacific area and the most experienced product development team we have is the Australians.

"So they are already serving a role for us which I would almost call the left-hand side engineering, core engineering expertise for all systems for all of Asia Pacific.

“Australian engineering is a core product development centre for us and I see nothing in the future that is going to change that."

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