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Ford Falcon to ditch rear-wheel-drive

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HSV Raiders

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Years of heritage could be axed with the Ford design chief all but confirming the end of the traditional rear-drive Falcon

The rear-wheel drive Australian-designed Ford Falcon is almost certainly dead.

Instead, the next generation Falcon due after 2015 seems certain to be part of a global front and all-wheel drive family of large cars.

Ford Motor Company’s global design chief J Mays all-but confirmed the news long-dreaded by Aussie 'Blue Oval' fans at the Detroit motor show today.

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“I wouldn’t be holding my breath for a rear-wheel drive Falcon,” Mays told Drive. “I think the chances are we will be all-wheel-drive.”

Mays acknowledged the news would be met with shock and dismay among Australian Ford fans, who celebrated the nameplate’s 50th anniversary in 2010.

“I understand that, but we are pretty confident we can find the right answers. It’s the same things that appeal on a rear-wheel-drive car in Australia that appeal for a rear-wheel-drive car here in the USA.”

Mays said the final decision confirming the shift away from rear-wheel-drive for Falcon would be made within six months.

He would not comment on the implications of the decision for Ford’s Australian manufacturing plant in Melbourne, nor whether V8 engines would be part of the mix.

These topics, plus the future of the popular Falcon ute, will become the centre of intense speculation now that the fundamental Falcon architecture decision seems to have been made.

The future of Falcon and which wheels it drives has been a running story for years, as traditional large rear-wheel drive car sales have dipped dramatically over more than a decade. The Falcon notched up its worst sales in its 50-year history last year.

Rear-wheel-drive has long been a strong sales pitch of the locally made Falcon and its Holden Commodore rival, perceived as superior dynamically, particularly for towing and performance models.

Questions about the Falcon has caused friction between Ford and Australian motoring media. In Detroit today, the company’s global product chief Derrick Kuzak turned his back on two Australian journalists who door-stopped him on the issue.

Minutes later Ford’s global president Alan Mulally was quizzed by Australian media before being taken away by his PR minder.

“We love the Falcon, we have nothing new to address today other than we love serving the Australian customer. We have nothing to report,” he said, before refusing to answer more questions.

“I have never met more relentless people than the Australians [media].”

The Falcon news comes just hours after Holden chairman and managing director Mike Devereux told Australian journalists in Detroit that he favoured a rear-wheel drive for Australia’s best-selling car, the Commodore, for years to come. A decision is due this year.

Commodore has advantages over Falcon because Holden is GM’s global rear-wheel drive engineering homeroom, and the platform and the car itself have both been exported.

Falcon is currently a global orphan with no export prospects. That’s an anathema for a company committed to a global product development and sales strategy it calls ‘One Ford’.

In Detroit Ford rolled out its most comprehensive ‘One Ford’ strategy yet, unveiling 10 different cars based on its Focus small car platform, including a concept compact SUV called the Vertrek that should eventually replace the ancient Escape in Australia.

Under One Ford, Falcon and the locally-built Territory medium SUV – which currently share the locally-developed “E8” architecture – would align with their US equivalents, the Taurus and Explorer, both of which are already front/all-wheel drive.

“Keep in mind we have already done this with Focus and Fiesta and we have gotten very good response,” design boss Mays said. “When we started this process (One Ford) we had many people internally saying it would not work.

“But guess what? It has. So we feel very confident we are going to be able to deliver a car that everyone around the world will be happy with.”

However, it seems Ford’s iconic sports car, the Mustang, will escape the One Ford mantra, and continue on alone as a rear-wheel-drive vehicle.

Mays is overseeing a design competition between various global Ford studios including Australia to finalise a shape for the One Ford large car.

“The new car will take some cues from the (US) Taurus,” Mays explained. “I think the Australians and Americans have an affinity for a slightly tougher looking car.

“I have always equated many of the cars we have sold in Australia to American muscle cars and I think you want a little bit of that in an Australian sedan as well.”

Mays said the move from rear to AWD platform would not affect that muscle car philosophy: “No, should we decide to do it, I think we will get it right. We are pretty cognoscente of the risks and the positive sides as well.”

The current Falcon is due for a substantial update in 2011, including a new Ecoboost turbocharged four-cylinder engine and an advanced direct injection LPG system for its staple inline six-cylinder 4.0-litre engine.

The Territory also evolves into its second generation, and will add a turbo-diesel V6 engine to its powertrain lineup.

Tips 507

New member
Pretty sure this was originally the plan but Ford Australia have proposed using the Mustang (rear wheel drive) option over the Taurus???? I'm not sure but thought I also read there was talk of designing the Falcon platform for the Mustang.

Tips 507

New member

As someone that likes cars but really knows #@$k all about them, is it possible to explain the demise of the Falcon. It would appear from most articles and reviews that it is everybit as good, if not a better car than the other brand, yet seems to be dieing a horrible death.

Marketing seems to be a definite loss over the past few years and I think Ford take too long to get new things on board ( eg: Territory Diesel), but really.

Would it be fair to say that if the 4 cylinder doesn't do the job and figures continue as are, we have all but seen the end of the Falcon as we know it?


New member
Truth of the matter is if either of the brands is to maintain a big rear wheel drive car, they both must survive, it is untenable for either to get realistic suppliers at prices that allow the family taxi to be produced at a reasonable cost in the numbers that only one of them has.

To be honest the government has let our car industry down big time and it's a lesson hard learned in the US which has changed policy very much recently, back to protecting jobs in the auto industry.

In Australia we just don't have the numbers of people to allow the egalitarian policy of equal purchase across all manufacturers when our local jobs are going overseas because of it. Our government needs to go back to buying the Aussie cars and hope to get the industry back into reasonable production numbers.[bgn]


New member
the 4cyl ecoboost Falcon should hopefully woo govt depts purchase, as a few of them now have a 4cyl only rule when purchasing


New member
the 4cyl ecoboost Falcon should hopefully woo govt depts purchase, as a few of them now have a 4cyl only rule when purchasing

....and quite a few of those departments are reviewing those rules as the 4cyls aren't proving to be as economical in the long run. :D

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