Ford has provided another glimpse of the final Falcon at its 'Go Further' event at Sydney’s Fox Studios today.
Tipped to be dubbed ‘FH’, the update of the FG Falcon will go on-sale in the third quarter of 2014 and will be the last before the nameplate is killed off and local Ford manufacturing ceases no later than October 2016.
The brief video shown on the big screen today showed off a wide mouth grille reminiscent of the 2011 Evos concept car and L-shaped LED driving lights contained within dual headlamps. The first image shown is a computer generated artist's impression of how the new Falcon could look.
The front-on shot of the car from the teaser video appeared to show a bonnet bulge, adding credence to rumours that the XR8 badge will be revived for one last hurrah using the Miami supercharged V8. The FPV range that currently employs the engine is tipped to be killed off.
It is expected the XR8 will to replace the 315kW GS while the 335kW GT will swap to a Falcon badge.
In press information issued today Ford said “the 2014 Falcon will benefit from a range of environmental initiatives designed to reduce its CO2 footprint and improve fuel efficiency.
“Among the improvements are enhanced aerodynamics as a result of extensive engineering and design work on the car. The 2014 Falcon will also be available with advance low-resistance tyres and a new high-tech six-speed automatic transmission that will reduce mass and weight.
“The transmission will provide better acceleration and provide adaptive shifting, which analyses the driver’s personal driving style and driving conditions and then implements optimal shifting accordingly.
“Additional new safety, technology and design features will complement the vehicles’ existing five-star ANCAP rating and deliver customers a world-class vehicle package.”
The FH is the result of a $103 million investment – including $30 million in government money – that also covers off a Territory renewal.
Motoring.com.au understands it is primarily an exterior sheetmetal upgrade, with little change made to interior presentation.
The bonnet, front and rear guards and front and rear graphics all change. The rear decklid may also be new.
Technically, the most significant efforts have been put into improving fuel economy, which is expected to be chopped by a further 0.5/100km from the current 8.1L/100km for the XT Ecoboost 2.0-litre turbo-petrol variant. That would maintain its efficiency advantage over Holden’s new VF Commodore Evoke, which is powered by a 3.0-litre V6 consuming 8.3L/100km.
All six-cylinder cars will get Ford’s China-sourced ZF six-speed automatic transmission from the EcoBoost Falcon, although the current high-torque six-speed ZF auto carries on in XR6 Turbo and supercharged Miami V8s.
ZF will stop producing the latter soon and Ford Australia is stockpiling them rather than investing in local development of the eight-speed ZF unit that replaces it. As such, Ford Australia is currently calculating how many high-torque ZFs it will need until Falcon production ends.
Ford will stick with a hydraulic power steering system for the Falcon, despite moving to an electric set-up with the upgraded SZ Territory. Nor will the Falcon employ aluminium panels like the VF Commodore, and there will be no significant suspension changes.
Existing cars fitted out with new components are due to start public road testing soon, before the first prototypes are produced in November.
The new Falcon is the final expression of a model line that has been built in Australia since 1960.
While the XK through XY Falcons were locally developed versions of an American base, from the 1972 XA series onwards the Falcon has been designed, developed and built in Australia.
The current FG Falcon and the SZ Territory SUV are based on the locally-developed E8 rear/all-wheel drive architecture.
The Falcon nameplate is the third oldest continuously-built nameplate in the automotive world and more than three million have been sold through seven generations primarily for Australia and New Zealand.
Over the years the Falcon has spawned sedans, utilities, wagons, panel vans, coupes and the long wheelbase Fairlane and LTD. Nowadays, only the sedan and ute survive.
Traditionally, Falcons were powered by inline six-cylinder or V8 engines, but in 2012 a turbo-petrol four-cylinder Ecoboost version of the XT base model was introduced.
This initiative failed to halt a dramatic sales decline for the car from the giddy heights of the mid 1990s, when a record 89,679 EF Falcon sedans, wagons, utes and panel vans were sold in 1995.
In 2012, just 19,769 Falcon sedans and utes were sold.
The demise in Falcon sales was linked to a shift away from large cars as fuel consumption and traffic congestion issues because more prominent and bulk fleet dealers scarcer as novated leasing and salary sacrifice became more popular.
It also reflected the competitive nature of the Australia new car market, which is one of the most open in the world. The decline of Falcon sales played a key role in the end of local Ford manufacturing, which began in Geelong in 1925.
October 2016 is the cut-off point for both Falcon and Territory because new Euro IV emissions regulations apply from the following month. The investment required to upgrade the locally-built 4.0-litre six-cylinder engine was judged to be uneconomic by Ford.
The Broadmeadows assembly plant and Geelong engine plant will close at a cost of 1200 jobs.
In announcing the end of the Falcon nameplate along with local production last May 23, Ford Australia president and CEO Bob Graziano said:
“The Falcon name is inextricably linked to Australia and to being produced here, so we will retire that name when we retire the vehicle.”
Since the announcement of the closure, sales of the Falcon have slumped further to record lows and Ford has announced there would be a series of ‘down days’ at Broadmeadows to avoid the production of excess inventory. The company blamed the drop to just 594 sales in June on the Labor government’s proposed FBT rule changes.
motoring.com.au's coverage of Ford Australia's Go Further announcement
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