It has been expected for a while now but Ford has sadly announced the death of its Fairlane and LTD long-wheel base luxury sedans. The Fairlane and LTD nameplates have been a part of the Australian automotive landscape for the last 40 years but they will now be consigned to history.
Ford Australia president Tom Gorman made the announcement earlier today.
"A significant decline in sales of vehicles in the upper large segment over the past few years has meant that local production of long wheelbase variants, primarily for domestic sale only, is currently no longer sustainable," Gorman said.
The last of the long wheel-base Fords will roll off the assembly line in late 2007 or early 2008. They have finally fallen victim to changing times as Australians look to smaller more economical vehicles. At the same time competition in the large luxury car segment has heated up with Chryslers â€˜Sultan of Blingâ€™ 300C stealing some of the lime light and Holdenâ€™s Statesman and Caprice stealing most of the sales.
Holden has enjoyed the advantage of a robust export market for its Statesman variants (pictured below) in the Middle East and Asia, something that Ford have been denied with the Fairlane as these markets are already catered for by the US built Crown Victoria.
Given the $150 to $200 million that Ford would spend in designing a new Fairlane / LTD the final nail in the coffin would surely be that sales for these iconic nameplates has slowed to a virtual trickle over the last year or so. The new 2008 Falcon Orion canâ€™t come soon enough for Ford as sales of the current Falcon are falling in the face of Holden's new generation VE Commodore and Toyota's Aurion.