Mus­tang will get a run

NT News - Motoring - - CARS GUIDE - By PAUL GOVER

THE world’s most fa­mous mus­cle car, the Ford Mus­tang, is nearly cer­tain to be­come the Blue Oval brand’s new hero af­ter the death of the Fal­con in 2016.

The next-gen­er­a­tion Mus­tang is al­ready con­firmed with right-hand drive, and com­pany in­sid­ers at Broad­mead­ows are hint­ing strongly to Cars­guide that it’s only a ques­tion of when — not if — it is con­firmed for Aus­tralia.

The born-again Mus­tang is ex­actly what Ford needs to re­build the shat­tered con­fi­dence of its lo­cal fol­low­ers in the wake of last year’s early death no­tice for the Fal­con and Ter­ri­tory in 2016. Es­pe­cially as the FPV GT is also on death row.

Bob Graziano, the Ford

It’s a very iconic ve­hi­cle, as is the F Se­ries truck

pres­i­dent who is pre­sid­ing over the end of lo­cal pro­duc­tion, is re­luc­tant to say much for now but hints that the Mus­tang is on the agenda.

‘‘We ob­vi­ously don’t talk about for­ward pro­grams, so I can’t tell you we will have Mus­tang here. But it’s one I hear a lot about. It’s a very iconic ve­hi­cle, as is the F Se­ries truck,’’ Mr Graziano tells Cars­guide.

‘‘For the next 3½ years, the hero car will con­tinue to be the Fal­con range. And we’re re­ally look­ing for­ward to the fresh­en­ing com­ing next year.

‘‘We’ve talked about a 30 per cent in­crease in mod­els be­tween now and 2016. We’re go­ing to con­duct a lot of re­search and eval­u­ate what seg­ments are mov­ing and what cus­tomers want. One of the ben­e­fits of our strat­egy, cor­po­rately, is we can have ac­cess to prod­ucts from around the world.’’

Mr Graziano is keen for Ford fol­low­ers to stay with the brand, and says it’s not just about a sin­gle car or an iconic badge.

‘‘I want them to un­der­stand that we have great prod­ucts and we’re stand­ing by those great great prod­ucts. That is the mes­sage go­ing for­ward.

‘‘We’ll fo­cus on the core pil­lars of the brand, qual­ity, sus­tain­abil­ity and tech­nol­ogy. We’re striv­ing to be best in class in each of those ar­eas.’’

Mr Graziano says Ford Aus­tralia will still have around 1500 em­ploy­ees even af­ter it shuts the doors at Broad­mead­ows and Gee­long, with the ma­jor­ity in the en­gi­neer­ing group that’s now fully con­nected to de­sign and en­gi­neer­ing work through­out the Ford world.

‘‘The bulk of them will be in prod­uct de­vel­op­ment. The site here con­tin­ues as a cen­tre of ex­cel­lence for the global prod­uct de­vel­op­ment team. That is one of the key tenets of our strat­egy.’’

But the news is not as good for Ford Per­for­mance Ve­hi­cles, which has only just been brought in­side com­pany head­quar­ters af­ter a buy-out of its Bri­tish own­ers at Pro­drive.

‘‘We’re look­ing at FPV at this point, and what we want to do with the brand go­ing for­ward. We haven’t taken any de­ci­sion,’’ Mr Graziano said.

He is not con­fi­dent about the Fal­con GT.

‘‘I think in per­for­mance ve­hi­cles we use the ST name. I don’t think we would use GT on any other ve­hi­cle,’’ he said.

‘‘It’s part of the Fal­con nomen­cla­ture, from my per­spec­tive. I don’t see us ap­ply­ing that go­ing for­ward, in the near term.’’

As for the up­date next year to the Fal­con and Ter­ri­tory, and whether Broad­mead­ows will even sur­vive to the back end of 2014, Mr Graziano is up­beat. ‘‘I’m cau­tiously op­ti­mistic that we will get through to the end of Oc­to­ber in 2016. It’s very early days since the an­nounce­ment, but I’m en­cour­aged by the level of in­ter­est,’’ he said.

‘‘We’re go­ing to re­main out there and re­mind cus­tomers we’re here and cus­tomers can con­tinue to buy with con­fi­dence.’’

But don’t ex­pect the 2014 Fal­con to match the VF Com­modore for a level of change and im­prove­ment that makes the new Holden eas­ily the best Aus­tralian car of all time.

‘‘It won’t be a VF-level change,’’ he ad­mits.

‘‘The best thing will be to get a re­newed ro­mance with the large-car seg­ment. They are good prod­ucts.’’

Twit­ter @paulward­gover

The 2011 Ford Mus­tang GT . . . Ford Aus­tralia is set to adopt the Mus­tang as its new hero car

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