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Taurus can’t replace Falcon: designer

Up front: The front-wheel-drive Ford Taurus is no Ford Falcon, according to Ford's European design chief.

Ford’s European design chief cool on Taurus as a replacement for rear-drive Falcon

27 Apr 2009

FORD’S European design director has thrown cold water on the possibility of the new Taurus replacing the Falcon.

Speaking at last week’s Shanghai motor show, Martin Smith said that while he believed the overall design of the Taurus large sedan would hypothetically be well accepted in Australia, it could never constitute a direct replacement.

“I’m not a marketing person but I think that car (the Taurus) has been very successful in the US. It has a lot of the strong design attributes that I think in my visits to Australia the Australian customer appreciates.

“But it’s a front-wheel-drive car. It’s not a replacement for a rear-wheel-drive vehicle.” Mr Smith tempered his statement by cautioning that as Ford of Europe’s chief designer he was responsible “only” for applying sheetmetal to chassis architectures, but his comments could reflect the general view of Australia’s Falcon within senior Ford management globally.

As we reported last week, Ford Australia president Marin Burela said the future of the next-generation Falcon, due to emerge around 2013, will be decided – but not necessarily made public – next year.

Mr Burela all but ruled out the next Falcon again being an Australian-designed model just for Australia, which appears to leave Ford Australia with the option of basing the next Falcon on either a new global rear-wheel-drive platform, the development of which is currently on hold, or on the front/all-wheel-drive Taurus platform.

27 center imageLeft: The Ford Taurus. Bottom: Ford FalconXR6.

Alternatively, Ford Australia could simply import the Taurus and rebadge it as the new Falcon, but Mr Smith’s comments appear to rule out at least the latter Taurus option.

Asked what the future held for Ford Australia’s Falcon, Mr Smith said: “Where the future of the Falcon is in the current environment I wouldn’t want to speculate.” Mr Smith said the FG Falcon was another example of how the company’s kinetic design language was attempting to visually link Ford models around the globe, in line with Ford Motor Company president Alan Mulally’s ‘One Ford’ design directive.

“The modifications to the (FG) Falcon recently were done to try and make the car less isolated in its environment, let’s say,” he said.

“We’ve been encouraged by Alan Mulally to create One Ford and he stated that he’d like to recognise a new Ford in any country that he stepped off an aeroplane (from) rather than … and creating a global family with a global look and that was done by the design team in Australia to fulfil that wish, to try and link the Falcon a little bit more closely.

“Because up until that declaration was made the Falcon was basically an independent entity. It was designed specifically and very successfully for the Australian market, and we as a design team we all agreed with Scott Strong in Australia that it would be a good initiative to try and mate that car a little bit more closely to other products around the globe,” he said.

Mr Smith said Ford had enough global models to continue to meet the needs of Australian vehicle consumers.

“When it (Falcon) was in its prime they used to call it (Ford) the Falcon Company of Australia, but as you see more and more vehicles being imported into Australia - I believe the Mondeo is a success and I think the Fiesta is just being introduced to the market.

“I think obviously Australian customers are going to come under the same sort of pressure as American customers are in terms of gas prices.

“Just as in North America we see a certain amount of downsizing, to the point where people will be wanting to buy a small car where five years ago no one ever would do, and I think that same trend will become evident in Australia. (But) I think we have enough products around the world to satisfy a Ford customer in Australia,” he said.

Read more:

Burela signals Falcon change

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