People are smoking less in cars. At least, that's what Ford is counting on with the new Falcon, due in September.
It will join the Holden Commodore and Toyota Camry to become the third mass market car in Australia without a cigarette lighter.
As with the Holden and Toyota, the Ford's lighter socket will remain for mobile phone chargers but the lighter plug will be optional.
The Falcon also will not have an aerial or accelerator cable. The wire antenna will be replaced by an adhesive on the windows; the conventional throttle has been replaced by an electronic unit which does not require a cable.
Ford said it decided to delete the lighter, which costs about $1 a car, because "anecdotally, people are smoking less in cars".
A Sydney Holden dealer yesterday said that of the "700 or so" Commodores it sold in the past 12 months only two had cigarette lighters fitted.
Holden, which stopped fitting the cigarette lighter to the Commodore in 1997, says less than 1 per cent of customers want it.
Ford has taken the unusual step of releasing details of the new Falcon in a controversial teaser campaign using bus advertisements and the Internet site www.newfalcon.com.au.
Ford says the site has received 40,000 inquiries over the past two months, including 26 from Holden. "We were thinking about sending [Holden] a unique response but we won't," joked Ford Australia's president, Geoff Polites.
Car makers normally keep new models under wraps to maximise their impact - and minimise the decline in sales of the outgoing model. But because of the number of new features, Ford wants to break the news early.
The Falcon has long been regarded as a rugged, unsophisticated car because of its affordable but outdated components. But, after being outsold by Holden for the past five years, the new model is expected to be the most advanced ever.
The new Falcon will be the first vehicle here with height-adjustable pedals. But in other areas Ford will catch up with its main rivals with satellite navigation and electronic rear parking sensors available as options.
Ford is considering taking the unprecedented step of releasing photos of the Falcon two months before it goes on sale.
Ford is sensitive to the appearance of the new model after the love-it-or-hate-it looks of the current car. Rather than risk being sprung by unflattering spy photos, it may release official pictures.