Falcon spreads its wings for US
By Bob Jennings
The Sydney Morning Herald
Monday August 2 2004
Ford's next model Falcon could provide the basis for mainstream American, mid-sized, rear-wheel-drive cars.
Ford engineers in Detroit are said to be looking to Australia for a replacement of the Ford Crown Victoria and Mercury Grand Marquis models, which have been using what is referred to as the Panther platform that dates back to 1978.
Although Ford has not confirmed the negotiations, component suppliers in the US say the Falcon-based replacement for the Crown Victoria and Grand Marquis could be as early as 2007 for the 2008 model year.
The Falcon platform would make the new cars slightly smaller than the current models, popular mainly among grey-haired customers.
However, a Ford Australia spokeswoman, Louise Teesdale, says the report appears to be "wildfire speculation" from the supplier section of the industry in the US.
Nevertheless, a Ford source quoted by Automotive News in Detroit acknowledged the Falcon study but said the plan was in the consideration stage only. Yet Ford would have to lock this into the product cycle soon to replace the cars for the 2008 model year.
Ford Australia's product cycle for the Falcon is likely to result in a new model in 2007 -- design and planning for the vehicle are under way.
Unlike Holden and Toyota, which have designed their Australian-made cars to be built in left-hand drive for export to the Middle East, Ford Australia has been locked out of that market. It has been supplied with vehicles from the US.
While this arrangement could continue, designing the next Falcon platform with the capability of having cars built onto it with either left- or right-hand-drive could open up export markets to Ford Australia that were previously serviced by Ford from the US.
The suppliers quoted by the US publication say that Ford's next-generation flagship Lincoln Town Car would be built off Ford's Volvo-derived D3 platform, rather than the Falcon. It would be an all-wheel-drive car, possibly for the 2009 model year.
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