INTERESTING THAT some print and electronic media got into a new lather yesterday over the future of the Falcon. It was the words of Ford CEO Alan Mulally at the Detroit Motor Show about Ford's "One Ford" global model policy that had them buzzing.
Perhaps they missed his words last year. As reports and analysis expressed on this site show, there is nothing new in what Alan Mulally said. In fact, his words are a near perfect echo of what he has said before.
Local Ford boss Marin Burela has also voiced the same words in the past year (TMR, April 15th 2009): "Ford Australia Boss, the disarmingly forthright Marin Burela, gave the clearest indication yet that the future of the Falcon is bound into Fordâ€™s global â€˜One Fordâ€™ model strategy.
Furthermore, he said that â€œby the end of 2010 or 2011, weâ€™ll be making a decision on our next large car.â€
While he would not be drawn on whether that replacement would be a Taurus-based vehicle (as many have been speculating), he said, â€œIt is important as a company we continue to develop global platforms. â€˜One Fordâ€™ is important (as a global strategy) and weâ€™re sticking to itâ€.
So, is the Falcon safe? No, Ford's local manufacturing program with two indigenous models specific to this small corner of the Pacific will not survive in the long term; the only question is how long before the axe falls.
But let's not misread things. Should the Falcon as we know it (and the Territory) be discontinued at some date in the future, that does not mean that manufacturing will cease here.
It will more likely mean that the next model Falcon will not be built on a platform unique to this market, but will be built on a Ford global platform. Like the one underneath the Taurus.
What will it be called? Maybe the Taurus... but equally likely, the Falcon.
And remember, the first Falcon that rolled off production lines in Broadmeadows was a Ford US model replicated here as the XK.
So, there is nothing new in Mulally's words. The clearest sign that the days were numbered for the Falcon was the announcement that Ford Australia would continue with the i6 engine.
Between the lines of that announcement could be drawn the inescapable conclusion that the Falcon platform was not to be re-engineered for a V6, and was thus to be discarded at the end of the life of this current model.
The Territory will get a run with the diesel, then it too will make way for a model with a global platform below it and shared engineering and external styling.
We simply have to get used to the idea. There will not be the development dollars within Ford Australia to completely re-engineer and produce two new models unique to this country.
And there certainly won't be any greenbacks coming this way from across the Pacific to help.
Equally sure, we will not lose Ford's manufacturing base here. However, whether Ford Australia continues to manufacture two models in the long term - even allowing for shared global platforms - is perhaps unlikely.