Fords new 2008 Falcon (codenamed Orion) is not due to hit showrooms until â€˜sometimeâ€™ in the first half of 2008. It wonâ€™t come soon enough for Ford whose monthly sales of Falcon have dropped from 4500-5000 units per month down to around 3000 units per month.
Ford has been backed into a corner by the all new VE Commodore and Toyota's Aurion (V6 Camry). Ford have been bracing themselves for some time now for slowing sales in the lead up to Orion. In October 2006 they cut daily production from 450 to 360 vehicles which would still appear to be too many given current sales performance.
Thankfully for all the local manufacturers of large cars and despite high fuel prices there appears to be some momentum gaining in the large car segment led by the new generation models from Holden and Toyota. Click on the link if you want to read more about vehicle sales statistics for the first quarter of 2007.
The 2008 Falcon Orion is not a clean sheet design like the VE Commodore however unlike the Commodore models prior to VE the Falcon already has a world class chassis. Recent spy video shows the 2008 Falcon to be slightly larger than the current car. It appears that some key design issues have been addressed including improved rear door access.
Expect the twin-cam 6-cylinder and V8 engines to carry over to the new model with increased power at least for the in-line 6-cylinder (200kw from the 6-cylinder to match the Aurion?) and considerable effort given to improving fuel economy.
The ZF6 automatic transmission should also be standard across more models with possible use being made of the new but not yet released ZF 8-speed in later up-dates or performance variants. Front suspension may borrow the Territories virtual pivot control link set-up and the structure should see the use of lightweight but high tensile steels.
European styling is expected. No VE style wheel arches are evident resulting in what appears to be a clean Euro look that is part Audi part Mondeo.
There is still a long wait for Ford fans with the 2008 Falcon expected to debut at the Melbourne Motor Show in March 2008. Over ten months will no doubt feel like an absolute eternity for Ford and Ford dealers.