Ford Australia President and CEO Marin Burela has confirmed that the XR8 will return to the company's Falcon line-up, despite being absent since the introduction of tougher emissions legislation in June this year.
The adoption of Euro IV emissions laws forced the retirement of the XR8's 5.4 litre Boss V8, and by extension FPV's own naturally-aspirated 5.4 V8. FPV has this week launched its all-new Euro IV compliant 5.0 litre supercharged V8, but a replacement for the XR8's motor has yet to arrive.
However, according to Mr Burela, Ford hasn't forgotten about the XR8.
“Performance cars are part of our heritage,” Mr Burela said.
“The [XR8] is very much part of our lineup, and it will be for many many years to come.
“We have an incredible desire to make sure that we don't let go of things that actually work for us.
Rather, the delay has been caused by the recent arrival of the Ford Focus RS, as well as the FPV GT and GS range.
“We thought that it was the right thing to do to make sure that we bring out the FPV range first and get that established and moving first.”
Mr. Burela would not comment on whether the 2011 XR8 would make use of FPV's locally-developed supercharged “Miami” V8, or if the Mustang's naturally-aspirated 5.0 litre “Coyote” V8 would get the nod.
However, with the Mustang's engine developing 307kW and 529Nm in its peak form, it would be a more than adequate replacement for the superseded 290kW/520Nm Boss V8.
An arrival date for the new XR8 is also a mystery.
Mr Burela also weighed in on speculation about the Falcon's future.
Ford President and CEO Alan Mullaly recently hinted that the next-generation Falcon may remain rear wheel drive, however many in the industry have postulated that the American company's new One Ford policy may see the highly-localised Falcon canned in favour of a Taurus-based front wheel drive
“One Ford has actually opened up the door for Ford of Australia,” Mr Burela said.
Ford Australia's extensive local presence allows the company to design, develop and manufacture new vehicles from scratch, and although nothing has been officially confirmed, a future Falcon model may well be built atop a new global RWD platform shared.
“We're currently in the process of evaluating what the next Falcon will be,” Mr Burela said.
“We need to make the decision by late-2011, early-2012 of what a new Falcon will be, the size of the engine, the packaging, et cetera.”
A replacement for the current FG Falcon is not due until 2016, however Mr Burela isn't worried that the large car market will evaporate before then.
“The large car segment over the last 15-20 years has declined, there's no question about that,” he said.
“But if you look at how the industry has grown, the number of cars that have been produced in Australia has remained flat.
“People in Australia are not averse to driving large cars.
“What they're absolutely focussed on is making sure that we deliver on is value for money, cost of ownership, fuel economy and sustainability.”
- Tony O'Kane