Battle of the sixes
Ford and Holden flex their fuel muscles, writes NEIL McDONALD
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.’’