The all-Australian Ford Falcon could soon be a thing of the past, the world president of the American carmakers has warned.
The Falcon marks 50 years on Australian roads this year, but speaking at the Detroit motor show, Ford boss Alan Mulally said only one large car platform would be built for all world markets under the company’s One Ford program.
“The best thing for Ford is to bring our scale and volume (to the market),” Mr Mulally told Fairfax newspapers.
“(Carmakers) who make one vehicle, a different vehicle for one country, I think those days are gone, because you can’t compete with the global companies, and Ford’s going to be a powerhouse globally.”
The likely successor for an Australian designed and engineered Falcon is a car based on the American Ford Taurus, which unlike the Falcon is a front-wheel drive car.
The Taurus was imported to Australia in the late 1990s with little success.
Mr Mulally would not say if Ford Australia would play a leading role in developing the large car platform, or whether a local version of the global car would be built in Australia.
Ford Australia president Marin Burela told Fairfax he hopes Australian engineering talent would be used for the project.
A decision on whether the new car would be front- or rear-wheel-drive was at least a year away, he said.
“The all-new Falcon doesn’t have to come into play until the end of 2014, early 2015, and we don’t have to make a decision until 2011 on what that vehicle will be, in terms of styling, technologies ” he said.
Mr Mulally said Ford Australia may help to develop the rear-wheel-drive Mustang platform.
The Ford Falcon was introduced to Australia in 1960.
The car has been the mainstay of Ford’s Australian manufacturing operations.
Ford Australia employs about 4,700 people at its Victorian plants, 2,300 of whom were factory floor workers and 2,400 in areas such as engineering, administration, marketing and product design.
Panels and engines for the Falcon and its Territory wagon variant produced at Geelong, with assembly housed at Campbellfield, in Melbourne’s north.
Falcon was the fifth-highest selling car in Australia in 2009, with 31,023 sales compared with 44,387 sales for the top-selling Holden Commodore.
Flagging sales because of higher fuel prices have hurt the Falcon and the Australian large car sector in recent years.