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by James Stanford

Ford Motor Company chief operating officer Mark Fields admits next year’s launch of the facelifted Ford Falcon will be unprecedented.

This is because the updated Falcon will be launched from death row.

CarAdvice asked Fields whether, to his knowledge, the 2014 FH Falcon would be the first new or updated model Ford has ever launched after announcing the model line would be killed off. We also asked that if there was any such precedent, was the condemned model a success?

Fields replied: “From our perspective, we probably have not had this before…”

He continued with: “But you’ve got to look at the question and back up to what does it mean for the whole business?”

And what does it mean for the whole business?

“Customers are going to have a lot more choices when they step into a Ford dealership as opposed to ‘We are just the Falcon company’, in a segment that is shrinking,” Fields said.

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It was typical Ford Motor Company obfuscation, changing the subject from the Falcon and focusing on all the other models it will introduce in the next few years.

That was the key driver behind Ford’s Go Further extravaganza at Sydney’s Fox Studios this week, which was held to divert attention away from flat-lining Falcon sales and show Australian customers Ford dealers will have plenty to offer when the Falcon is buried, along with the Territory, in 2016.

The Falcon’s presence was limited to a short video teaser. It was the only model in the line-up that was not driven onto the stage during the event, even though two Transit vans were given a gig.

There was no reference to Ford Australia’s near 90 years of manufacturing heritage or the recent decision to end local production during the lengthy presentation.

Fields was hit with plenty of questions about Falcon after the event, though.

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He was asked whether Ford would proceed with the 2014 FH Falcon even though sales of the current car slumped to a historic low of 594 last month.

“We have been working on the update for a while now. We are going to follow through on it, we are going to introduce it to the marketplace and as we said, at the same time, we are filling out the rest of our product line-up,” Fields said.

While the FH update is locked and loaded, Fields, along with other key Ford executives including global president Alan Mulally, was not prepared to promise that Falcon production would continue through to October 2016.

“Every week we literally get together and look at the business environment,” Fields told CarAdvice.

“As you know, the business environment changes a lot. Look at what has happened to the D segment here. Forget about the last three years, look at the last 12 months and what has happened, not only because of consumer demand, but also some outside elements such as the FBT [Fringe Benefit Tax changes recently introduced federally].”

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Fields said the tax was clearly hurting Falcon sales, with production down days scheduled for its Geelong and Campbellfield plants.

“Clearly, we have seen an impact to it and that’s why we have taken the 12 down days,” he said.

“It comes back into the strategy of marrying production with demand and we’ll see how it plays out, but clearly it is going to impact the marketplace in a negative way, not a positive way.

“Over the next month or two it will probably just keep people out of the market until they see what happens with elections and all of that.”




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