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Ford Mustang remains All-American
Global Mustang leaves past behind with improved IRS, Aussie input minimal
6 Dec 2013
THE sixth-generation Mustang due for launch locally in mid-2015 is a North American effort pure and simple, with no direct Australian design or engineering input except for the Asia Pacific team contributing regional requirement data.
This quashes speculation that Ford Australia know-how gained from the existing E8 architecture underpinning the Falcon and Territory was leveraged for the Mustang.
Even the new IRS independent rear suspension system is completely different to anything the Falcon and Territory has ever had.
Speaking to GoAuto at the global unveiling in Sydney on Thursday night, Ford vice president of product development for Asia Pacific Trevor Worthington revealed that the Mustang’s rear end is specifically engineered for the American muscle car.
“It’s not a (E8-derived) Control Blade IRS,” he said. “Control Blade worked in a Falcon because of that particularly unique architecture that we had and because of its long deep rails that were in the car.
“This is a much more compact, and I would say more modern IRS architecture. The (BA) Falcon architecture was introduced in 2002, and we started working on it in 1999 – and that’s 15 years ago, and the world has moved on.
“The Mustang’s is much more compact, with much greater use of lighter materials. This is a ground-up car. We haven’t had to go and scour parts bins.
This is a fit-for-purpose IRS.
“(Because) if you’re designing a sports car, power-to-weight ratio is important… and there is aluminium used in the fenders and hood.” Asked why Ford Australia’s experience with rear-wheel drive performance cars like the Falcon XR and FPV variants wasn’t utilised, the Shanghai-based ex-pat engineering veteran said the half-century of Mustang know-how was more than enough to build upon.
“We’ve been developing Mustang for 50 years,” Mr Worthington said.
“I worked on Mustang 10 or 12 years ago, and there is a level of competency in that team, and that team has always grown and evolved, and they really know what a Mustang customer is.
“Our job is to make sure – as they extended that model, be it in Europe or Asia or wherever – that all of the requirements would be taken care of.
“A four-door Falcon is very different to a two-door long-nosed short-decked coupe.
“The thing we’ve done with setting up One Ford is that we’ve got very confident LVEAs (Lead Vehicle Engineering Activity) that know their stuff.
“Whether the LVEA is about T6 (Ranger) and other stuff off that platform (for example), we’d say that we know more about the global customer for that truck than anybody else in the Ford world.
“That’s our job – in the same way that (the US team on Mustang’s) job has been to work with us, and then go and do their job… it’s a kind of process, and it’s a partnership.”
Where the 2015 Mustang has benefitted from Australian input has been in the area of specific regional regulation and customer taste data, which was fed back to the designers and engineers back at the car’s Michigan homeroom as part of the model’s newly international outlook.
Known as working out the ‘functionals’, it varies from right-hand drive-compatibility to specific Australian Design Rules minutiae, and has been a two-year process for this particular Mustang project.
“After determining where the profit pools and where the customer pools are, we set targets for the vehicle, and undertake the process of gathering information around key functionals in the car for all the markets,” Mr Worthington said.
“So our job in the region was to basically provide that information to the global team, and their job is to go and engineer the car. The lead team is based in Dearborn.
“But it is a very interactive process. We’ve been involved for about two years… and it was my job to work specifically with the US program to make sure we headed towards milestones with information that was aligned.
“A common requirement, for example, is that (the new Mustang) has to be the best-looking car compared to the competitive set.”
The latter, by the way, will now go beyond the typical Pony Car combatants that the Mustang has long faced, such as the (Australian engineered) Chevrolet Camaro and Dodge Challenger, to include the BMW 4 Series, Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupe, Nissan 370Z and Subaru turbos such as the Liberty and WRX.
Other Asia/Pacific targets including meeting ‘drive by’ noise requirements, seat package suitability for various markets (“from a Chinese customer to an Australian customer”), and left-hand to right-hand drive switchgear functionality.
“It goes all the way from target setting – tyre size and types – to the nitty gritty of (differing regional) regulations and requirements,” Mr Worthington said.
“It is all part of the One Ford philosophy… it helps make the Mustang a no-compromise Mustang.
“The new model takes many of the things from the past that endeared it to an American crowd, and builds on them, to make it the best Mustang that the company has ever made.”
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