Left right for Fal­con

The new Fal­con could lead an ex­port push, writes NEIL McDON­ALD

Herald Sun - Motoring - - News -

THE ar­rival of the FG Fal­con has reignited a push for left-hand drive ex­ports by the Broad­mead­ows-based com­pany. Ford Aus­tralia pres­i­dent and CEO Bill Os­borne says the new­est Ford is ideally suited for ex­ports.

Os­borne has driven the Fal­con’s key ri­vals and says ‘‘that’s one rea­son I am con­fi­dent in our car’’.

He hopes the ef­forts of his team will be recog­nised when heavy hit­ters from Ford’s Detroit head­quar­ters drive the car next month.

The ex­ec­u­tives, led by head of Ford prod­uct de­vel­op­ment world­wide Der­rick Kuzak, will get to drive pro­duc­tion ver­sions of the new FG Fal­con head-to-head with its chief ri­vals, the Holden Com­modore and Toy­ota Au­rion.

The Amer­i­cans will also take part in talks on Ford’s plans in the Asia-Pa­cific re­gion.

Kuzak has over­all re­spon­si­bil­ity for all as­pects of the global com­pany’s prod­uct de­vel­op­ment sys­tem. He paid a light­ning visit to Broad­mead­ows last year.

Join­ing Kuzak this time will be Doug Gaf­fka, Ford’s de­sign di­rec­tor.

That Kuzak is re­vis­it­ing Aus­tralia so soon is a sign Ford Aus­tralia has risen on Detroit’s radar and could play a part in ex­port­ing Fal­cons to key mar­kets or at least sup­ply tech­ni­cal know-how with large, rear-wheeldrive ve­hi­cles.

How­ever, if Ford Aus­tralia gets the nod for a Fal­con ex­port pro­gram, it is un­likely to hap­pen be­fore 2010, when a new suite of V6 en­gines are planned for the car.

Ford in­sid­ers say a tur­bod­iesel en­gine, pos­si­bly a sin­gle turbo ver­sion of the PSALand Rover V6, is tipped to be­come avail­able in the FG Fal­con af­ter 2010.

Ford Aus­tralia’s en­gi­neer­ing team is recog­nised in Ford’s global fam­ily as one of the com­pany’s strong points, its work on the In­dia Fi­esta pro­gram and the T6 light-com­mer­cial ute adding im­pe­tus to any ex­port plans.

Ford Aus­tralia has al­ready started work on build­ing the next-gen­er­a­tion Fo­cus from 2011 and is un­der­stood to be con­sid­er­ing right and left-hand drive ex­ports for the car.

The cur­rent model Fo­cus is im­ported from South Africa, with the Fo­cus XR5 com­ing from Europe. Ford wants to build 40,000 Fo­cuses a year, which will add 300 new jobs and re­turn the Camp­bell­field plant to full ca­pac­ity. It plans to ex­port 15,000 of those Fo­cuses a year.

With 2500 po­ten­tial cus­tomers al­ready signed up to drive the car from Ford’s Fal­con mi­cro-web­site, Os­borne is keen to mar­ket the car’s value and fea­tures, be­liev­ing there are still con­sumers who want a six-cylin­der car.

‘‘I do be­lieve we can achieve large-car sales lead­er­ship with this car,’’ he says.

Seek­ing a new road: the FG Fal­con G6E will be top of the agenda when Ford US chiefs ar­rive at Broad­mead­ows to as­sess Asia-Pa­cific ex­port po­ten­tial.

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