Left right for Falcon
The new Falcon could lead an export push, writes NEIL McDONALD
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.