Ford fans across the nation must surely be giving each another some rather panicked looks right now. At a recent press conference to discuss the future of Ford Australia's large car industry, Ford President and CEO Alan Mulally raised the prospect that the Falcon of the future could potentially switch from a rear-wheel-drive to a front-wheel-drive layout.
The rationale behind such a switch is that having the engine, transmission and driveshafts packaged as a single unit and located up the front would cut overall vehicle weight and improve cabin space, giving future Falcon owners greater sprawling room and a slightly lower fuel bill.
While a front-driving Falcon might not be quite so popular in Australia, Ford's plans for the big Aussie sedan involve it possibly forming the basis for a future global large-car platform. As such, it would need to be able to appeal to a wide variety of markets, not all of them as enamoured with RWD driving dynamics as us Antipodeans.
A decision on whether to keep the Falcon RWD, re-jig it for FWD or even equip it with an all-wheel-drive drivetrain has yet to be made, but in Mulally's own words that decision will, "be driven by what the customer wants and values".
Mulally also wouldn't be drawn on the future of the V8 Falcon, saying that market demand would dictate whether the bent-eight stays. However, he did say that in the long term, V6's and four cylinders would feature with more prominence in Ford's lineup and that these motors would likely employ turbocharging and direct injection to make up for any lack of cubic inches.
It wasn't all doom-and-gloom at the Ford press conference, however. Mulally expressed his wish to base the company's future large-car development within Australia, and was keen to capitalise on Ford Australia's experience in building big sedans like the Falcon.
That news is probably of little consolation to the 350 or so Ford employees who have been made redundant by flagging Falcon and Territory sales, but at least it means the Falcon still has a future within Aussie shores. Whether that future involves it dragging its bum as a front-driver or triumphantly igniting its back tyres as a rear-driver is not so clear, however I sincerely hope it's the latter.
[Drive, via Autoblog]