NT News - Motoring - - NEWS - By PAUL GOVER in Detroit

HE leg­endary Ford Mus­tang will be twinned with Aus­tralia’s own Ford Fal­con in an ag­gres­sive plan to drive the brand for­ward be­yond 2015.

The present FG Fal­con is safe for at least an­other four years as Ford’s lo­cal spear­head and plans are beginning to in­te­grate its re­place­ment into a new-look, glob­ally-fo­cussed One Ford or­gan­i­sa­tion.

The move is un­likely to af­fect Ford Aus­tralia’s lo­cal man­u­fac­tur­ing op­er­a­tion, with the Fal­con-based Ter­ri­tory SUV also set for an even longer run through to 2016, but will lead to greater ef­fi­cien­cies and a leaner, greener lo­cal fam­ily car.

The broad sweep of the Fal­con plan was out­lined at the Detroit Mo­tor Show by Ford’s world­wide pres­i­dent Alan Mu­lally.

He pointed to a con­tin­ued role for the Fal­con in Aus­tralia within an in­te­grated global prod­uct plan.

‘‘We’ll be in the Fal­con mar­ket, yes,’’ Mu­lally said.

‘‘But as we go for­ward we’ll con­tinue to use all our as­sets around the world.

‘‘We have learned so much from the Fal­con, be­cause it’s a dy­na­mite car. What­ever that Fal­con morphs to, for the next one, it will be avail­able for every­one around the world.’’

He also ef­fec­tively dis­missed sug-

Tges­tions that the Fal­con, a tra­di­tional rear-wheel-drive de­sign, would be re­placed by the front-drive Taurus built for the USA.

The Taurus has al­ready failed once in Aus­tralia, in the 1990s.

‘‘We’re go­ing to have a large sedan,’’ Mu­lally said.

‘‘And we’ve got the Mus­tang. So you can imag­ine, go­ing for­ward, that there will be a next ver­sion of the Fal­con that will be even bet­ter. ‘‘In cap­i­tal let­ters.’’ Ru­mours of an end to the Fal­con’s run in Aus­tralia, and per­haps even an end to lo­cal pro­duc­tion by Ford, were cat­e­gor­i­cally de­nied in Detroit by Ford Aus­tralia pres­i­dent Marin Burela.

‘‘No com­pany that was go­ing to pull out of Aus­tralia would be spending $230 mil­lion on bring­ing the world’s best pow­er­train tech­nol­ogy to Aus­tralia for the Fal­con,’’ Burela said.

He said the com­ing in­tro­duc­tion of a four-cylin­der en­gine in the Fal­con would al­low Ford to com­pete against new ri­vals, in­clud­ing the Toy­ota Carmy, as well as set­ting a new class bench­mark for en­gine ef­fi­ciency.

‘‘Our strat­egy is very clear,’’ Burela said. ‘‘ We took a very bold step for­ward when we an­nounced a sig­nif­i­cant in­vest­ment in Fal­con only a few months ago.

‘‘No other lo­cal man­u­fac­turer has com­mit­ted that sort of in­vest­ment in re­cent times.

‘‘Why did we do that? We did that to give Fal­con an in­cre­men­tal level of growth op­por­tu­nity over time.

‘‘If you look at the things we have done on Fal­con, and we are plan­ning for Fal­con, there is ab­so­lutely no rea­son for us to de­vi­ate be­cause the plan is work­ing.’’

Burela high­lighted an im­prove­ment in Fal­con’s share of fam­ily-car sales in Aus­tralia in 2009 at the ex­pense of the Holden Com­modore, and even the need to work some week­end shifts at its fac­tory in Mel­bourne to sat­isfy de­mand.

Burela stressed that plan­ning for the next new Fal­con is barely into the re­search stage, with no ur­gency on any sort of com­mit­ment.

He also hinted that it would be pos­si­ble for the car to share much of its ba­sic me­chan­i­cal pack­age with the next all-new Mus­tang, but with a lo­cal body above the me­chan­i­cal pack­age.

‘‘The Fal­con’s changeover is due to take place at the end of 2014, or early in 2015,’’ Burela said.

‘‘Our de­ci­sions . . . for Fal­con don’t have to be made un­til we get through to the mid­dle of 2011. So we have time on our hands.

‘‘At the mo­ment, all is well on the Fal­con side of things. All is very well.’’

GLOBAL MIS­SION: Ford Mo­tor Com­pany pres­i­dent and chief ex­ec­u­tive Alan Mu­lally with ex­ec­u­tive chair­man William Clay Ford Jr next to the all-new Ford Fo­cus at the Detroit show

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