Orion Falcon fast-tracked!
Fords crucial new large car is ahead of schedule
By MARTON PETTENDY 21 March 2007, for GoAuto
KEEP an eye out on Victorian roads for disguised versions of Fords crucial new Falcon, which is now well into its prototype build stage and will be released ahead of schedule early next year.
Ford Australia president Tom Gorman has confirmed that development of the redesigned Falcon sedan, which had been due on sale in March, has been brought forward by weeks in an effort to shorten the BF MkII Falcons lifespan in the face of declining large-car sales as well as renewed competition from Holdens all-new VE Commodore sedan and utility, which is now also expected to break cover within months.
If we could get it earlier we would. Were probably weeks ahead of our plan not months, Mr Gorman said on Friday. We would like to (bring its release date forward). I have to say our development process is going very, very well.
We have several levels of prototype and were well into the process of building prototypes. The car is coming together very well were very happy with it.
Ford will also begin a slow-release launch campaign for its vital new volume-seller in the coming months. Similar to the approach adopted for the Territory and BA Falcon, Falcons drip-feed launch program is still expected to culminate in an Australian public debut at the 2008 Melbourne International Motor Show in March.
Asked for an official on-sale date for the next-generation Falcon sedan, which will be closely followed by an all-new Falcon ute, Mr Gorman said: Were not going to do that yet. This is called the tease, in case youre wondering.
We havent really disclosed that to our full dealer body yet, but as we get closer to that over the coming months well start to talk to you a lot more about it and talk to you about what you can expect in terms of powertrains and so forth.
Mr Gorman (Above) said LPG would play an increased role in the new Falcons alternative-fuel menu, but poured cold water on suggestions by KPMG industry analyst David Gelb that Australian car-makers needed to embrace hybrid propulsion systems to remain viable.
The market is moving pretty rapidly and radically around the world, but I dont know that you can say one particular technology is going to drive the overall survival of a particular industry, Mr Gorman said.
Were very optimistic about hybrids going forward and will continue to invest in it as a corporation globally, but I dont think youll see it become the centre of excellence that some may be looking for. There are other ways to survive.
Codenamed Orion and based on existing BA/BF chassis architecture, Fords next-generation Falcon sedan is expected to be clothed in a radical new exterior design language. Previewed by both the Iosis concept and Ford of Europes new Mondeo, it comprises higher boot/bonnet lines, a flatter roof, aggressive wheel-arch flares, pronounced upper and lower side character lines and headlights featuring a split-level lower edge, as hinted by the updated BFII.
Falcons 4.0-litre straight-six and 5.4-litre V8 engines (mated to six-speed ZF autos across the board) are expected to bring only modest performance upgrades to perhaps 200kW and 270kW (for XR8) respectively.
However, redesigned steering and front suspension systems should bring improvements to dynamics via a front-mounted steering rack and two-piece lower A-arms like those seen on Territory.
Meantime, Mr Gorman said Fords top-selling medium SUV will not be facelifted this year, but that it would receive turbo-diesel power before Falcon did. And he did not rule out the possibility of a Territory diesel emerging this year.
Were not going to change the face of Territory this year, he said. All our efforts are going into Falcon were working all out to get out the sedan and the ute.
From the product front were anything but sitting still. Youre just not seeing that domestically at the moment because for us to do the sedan and ute is a big effort and thats where our energies lie at the moment.
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I hope to start seeing prototypes soon.
Also, I thought that the launch was always going to be the Melbourne show. So they intend to launch it before Melbourne?
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