New di­rec­tions

The fu­ture is di­vided, writes Paul Gover in Detroit

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Onroad -

THE fu­ture of Aus­tralia’s two home­grown hero cars, the Ford Fal­con and Holden Com­modore, is about to di­verge in the most dra­matic twist since the in­tro­duc­tion of the orig­i­nal Com­modore in 1978.

Ford will head down a new global road — most likely with an all-wheel-drive Fal­con twinned with the Tau­rus and Ex­plorer SUV in the US — that could mean an end to Aus­tralian pro­duc­tion.

Holden is close to re­new­ing a com­mit­ment to a rear-drive re­place­ment to the VE Com­modore.

De­ci­sions on the Fal­con and Com­modore that come af­ter 2015 must be made in­side the next year. The last time the two Aussie he­roes split so dra­mat­i­cally was af­ter the in­tro­duc­tion of the downsized, Euro­pean-based VB Com­modore that re­placed the Holden Kingswood at a time when fuel ef­fi­ciency looked a top pri­or­ity.

It came in 1978, but Ford stayed with a full-size XE Fal­con to counter the new con­tender in 1979 and even­tu­ally was re­warded when Aus­tralians made it No.1.

This time, Ford faces a global pull while Holden uses its suc­cess as lever­age for a re­newed Aus­tralian com­mit­ment.

Ford Aus­tralia de­nies any ur­gency and says no de­ci­sions have been made , even though the com- pany’s global styling boss sug­gests a deal is nearly done.

‘‘I know that rear-wheel drive is very im­por­tant to the Aus­tralian mar­ket, but we’re not talk­ing about that right now.

‘‘ We’re look­ing at it, but I wouldn’t be hold­ing my breath,’’ says J. Mays, speak­ing this week at the North Amer­i­can In­ter­na­tional Auto Show. ‘‘Chances are it will be all-wheel drive.

‘‘We’re pretty con­fi­dent we can find the right an­swer.

‘‘The same things that ap­peal in a rear-wheel-drive car in Aus­tralia ap­peal to a rear-wheel-drive car in the United States.’’

The rea­son for the global drive to in­te­grate the Fal­con and end its ‘‘or­phan’’ sta­tus in the new One Ford world driven by com­pany CEO Alan Mu­lally, is ob­vi­ous to Amer­i­can an­a­lyst Bob Hall.

‘‘It’s too rick­ety. They let it go too long with­out giv­ing it the stuff you need for suc­cess in the 21st cen­tury,’’ says Hall, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of 2953 An­a­lyt­ics and a man with a lot of ex­pe­ri­ence of the Aus­tralian mo­tor in­dus­try.

He’s blunt on any chance of con­tin­u­ing with a unique Aus­tralian Fal­con built at Broad­mead­ows.

‘‘I don’t see how they can do it,’’ Hall says.

‘‘ We will know in the next six months what the fu­ture of the Com­modore — the next gen­er­a­tion — will look like

But Ford Aus­tralia de­flects talk of change.

‘‘Devel­op­ment of the fu­ture­model Fal­con is un­der way as part of Ford’s nor­mal prod­uct devel­op­ment plans.

‘‘De­sign and en­gi­neer­ing pro­pos­als are be­ing con­sid­ered by the com­pany’s teams, but a plan has not yet been ap­proved,’’ com­pany spokesman Peter Fadeyev says.

‘‘No de­ci­sions about the de­sign nor on the plat­form have been made or locked in.

‘‘At this point, it’s too early to pro­vide any spe­cific de­tails about fu­ture Fal­con mod­els.’’

Holden is much closer to a de­ci­sion and, iron­i­cally, if Ford moves away from rear-wheel drive, it’s more likely to con­tinue with a car that’s a re-work of the ba­sic VE Com­modore pack­age.

Holden will also look at a front or all-wheel drive pack­age but com­pany pres­i­dent Mike Dev­ereux says rear-drive is more likely.

‘‘We will know in the next six months what the fu­ture of the Com­modore— the next gen­er­a­tion — will look like,’’ the com­pany pres­i­dent says.

‘‘We looked at ev­ery­thing, that’s what all car mak­ers do, that’s the pru­dent thing to do.

‘‘But we are un­der no obli­ga­tion to go that way, Holden can choose its own path.

‘‘The rear-drive sedan may not be flavour of the month in other coun­tries, but it’s still very much alive in Aus­tralia,’’ he says.

‘‘If we can de­liver the right [size] and the right econ­omy, we can con­tinue on the path we’re on.’’

Big dif­fer­ence: the man­u­fac­tur­ing of Ford and Holden ve­hi­cles could soon head in dif­fer­ent di­rec­tions.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.