Bat­tle of the sixes

Ford and Holden flex their fuel mus­cles, writes NEIL McDON­ALD

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Front Page -

THE gloves are off in the fuel-econ­omy bat­tle be­tween the big Aussie sixes. Ford is ex­pected to de­cide by the end of next month on the fu­ture of its in-line six cylin­der and any fu­ture fuel-sav­ing tech­nolo­gies for the Fal­con and Ter­ri­tory.

GM-Holden is tipped to show off new fuel-econ­omy tricks in the Com­modore up­date due later this year, so the pres­sure is on Ford.

Ford pres­i­dent and chief ex­ec­u­tive Marin Burela says the com­pany will soon de­cide on its tech­nol­ogy.

‘‘We will get to a pow­er­train de­ci­sion by the end of July,’’ he says.

Burela says some fine-tuning needs to be done but the im­por­tance of the de­ci­sion can­not be un­der­es­ti­mated.

‘‘Der­rick Kuzak, the global prod­uct de­vel­op­ment head for Ford, is per­son­ally in­volved in work­ing with us to help us get to the best so­lu­tion,’’ Burela says.

‘‘That shows you the level of fo­cus Ford Mo­tor Co is ap­ply­ing to make sure we get this right.’’

As fleets and gov­ern­ments iden­tify fuel econ­omy as one of the main fac­tors in buy­ing de­ci­sions, Burela is keen to make sure the Fal­con keeps pace.

More than 70 per cent of all Fal­cons and Com­modores are bought by fleets.

Burela says there is still room for im­prove­ment in the Fal­con’s in-line six-cylin­der en­gine, which cracks 9.9 litres for 100km for the op­tional six-speed au­to­matic XT sedan and 10.5 litres/100km for the five-speed au­to­matic model.

‘‘We’re con­tin­u­ing to work on that,’’ he says.

The I6 en­gine re­mains part of the Fal­con and Ter­ri­tory’s fu­ture, though Ford is looking at tur­bod­iesel en­gines and a range of ecotech­nolo­gies such as stop-start and dual-clutch trans­mis­sions.

The I6 will be part of the lo­cal land­scape un­til the next gen­er­a­tion of fuel-emis­sion stan­dards are iden­ti­fied ‘‘and we don’t ex­pect that to be clear for some time,’’ Burela says.

Ford has not yet ap­proached the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment’s Green Car Fund to help fast-track th­ese tech­nolo­gies.

‘‘We’ve been very quiet and the rea­son is we don’t want to be go­ing to gov­ern­ment ev­ery five min­utes to ask for its sup­port or en­gage­ment on things that we’re not ready to make a state­ment on,’’ Burela says.

‘‘I want to make sure that once we’re ready to move for­ward with our pow­er­train strat­egy that it’s a very co­he­sive, very com­pre­hen­sive and well-thought-out plan.’’

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