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Cloud hangs over Typhoon

Clutch glitch: A solution to Typhoon’s clutch problem has not been found.

The Typhoon joins GT coupe on Blue Oval’s sick list

16 Feb 2005

THE future of Ford Performance Vehicles’ Typhoon sedan – which has joined the Blue Oval’s GT super-coupe as Ford’s second high-profile performance model to be plagued by a major recall in as many months – remains in doubt.

"We don’t have a fix at the moment," said Ford Australia president Tom Gorman last week.

"We’re not selling them – we’ve stopped them going into dealers." Mr Gorman said a solution to Typhoon’s clutch problem, which was exposed during performance testing by Motor magazine and initially dismissed by FPV as the result of driver abuse, had not been found.

"There are three issues: 95 per cent of the effort is going into a technical fix for the vehicle at the moment. Clearly that’s where we have to focus and it’s a complex relationship between Ford, FPV and AP Racing, which is the supplier of the clutch," Mr Gorman said.

"So we are making progress in terms of closing down alternatives and honing in on the root cause and, ultimately, coming up with a fix. (But) I can’t tell you today how quickly that’s going to happen." Owners of 80 Typhoon sedans in Australia and a further seven in New Zealand have been offered an exchange FPV vehicle until the problem is fixed. However, only 16 Typhoon customers have chosen to part with their vehicle.

The Typhoon sedan was launched with much fanfare in November as FPV’s first turbocharged six-cylinder model and has a record 550Nm torque output for an Australian-built production vehicle.

But the clutch problem, and FPV’s subsequent denial of it, has caused embarrassment for Ford – both publicly and internally.

The media launch of Typhoon’s utility sibling, the Tornado ute, was also postponed and both turbocharged FPV models remain unavailable.

"I meet with FPV guys three days a week and they don’t really want to meet with me … so we’re working really hard to fix this at the moment," said Mr Gorman.

"The other issue is the process, but when you’re faced with a problem you don’t do that until you’ve fixed the problem. It’s a case of fix the problem and then come back and look at the process breakdown – how did this happen? "And then I think there’s a behavioural issue here, too, because this was identified to us and perhaps we didn’t listen as carefully as we should have to the marketplace.

"Culturally, we have to be careful of arrogance. When people tell you something you have to listen. This is a very emotional game, particularly with a performance vehicle. People put their heart and soul into these things and so you sometimes get an immediate reaction that, really, better thought through wouldn’t have been the appropriate reaction.

"I think we’ve done a great job of taking care of the customers. We’ll fix the problem first, then we’ll get to the process issues. I don’t want to roll (FPV boss) David (Flint) under the bus. He’s made FPV a great business." The Typhoon debacle follows a similar recall in the US involving Ford’s born-again GT supercar, which is currently doing the rounds at Australian motor shows, including Brisbane last week and Melbourne from March 3.

Ford Motor Company individually advised 2005 GT owners in December "not to drive their vehicle under any circumstances" until two recalls were performed.

In the first of two recalls, Ford will inspect the fuel system of all GTs made between October 13 and November 19, 2004. Some of the Ford GTs may require the installation of a new fuel tank.

The second recall involves all 470 GT coupes manufactured at Ford’s Wixom, Michigan, Special Vehicle Centre – from job one on June 30 to the final examples built on December 11. It relates to potential suspension control arm fracture, replacement parts for which were not made available until February 1 this year.

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