Falcon to lose a few kilos
December 12 2002
By Joshua Dowling,
The $500 million Ford Falcon is going on a weight-loss program after criticism over its increase in weight and fuel consumption.
Ford engineers said yesterday that Ford had established a special team to investigate ways the Falcon could trim some fat less than three months after the car went on sale, and two days after Holden's chief took a swipe at the Falcon's "inexcusable" thirst for petrol.
The new Falcon's weight increased by 130 kilograms - the equivalent of two passengers - to almost 1.7 tonnes, making it almost 200 kilograms heavier than its rival, the Holden Commodore.
"Weight is definitely one of our main objectives, it's a huge issue internally," said Ford's vehicle engineering director, Brian Williamson. "There are a lot of things up for evaluation. We have teams of people working on it as we speak."
He said it would be too expensive to lose all the weight gained with the new model and refused to speculate on how much weight the Falcon could lose. But industry analysts estimate that the Falcon could shed between 50 and 80 kilograms with the use of new materials such as thinner gauge steel or aluminium.
"Whatever we do it will not compromise the safety, durability or the integrity of the car. If money was no object, we could use the best lightweight materials in the world but we need to balance the investment of new materials and the benefits they would bring," Mr Williamson said.
A mildly face-lifted version of the new Falcon is due in two years, before an all-new model in 2006. The lighter Falcon is expected in 2004.
Ford would not estimate the cost of the weight-loss program but said it would not do anything that would make the Falcon more expensive. Less weight would mean increased performance and reduced fuel consumption. Ford said its "small but significant" contribution to the environment was its Liquid Petroleum Gas-powered Falcon.