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by George Skentzos

The global possibility of Ford Australia’s Orion rear-wheel drive platform may be in doubt following comments indicating Ford US would develop its own platform for its rear-wheel drive vehicles.

After announcing its commitment toward building rear-wheel drive cars, Ford alluded to the fact that the Australian architecture developed for the new Falcon would also form the underpinnings for the Lincoln MKR and the Ford Interceptor.

However J Mays, Ford group Vice President of Design, has spoken to Automotive News recently, apparently unaware of any decision.

“The vehicles that we’re looking at will be designed where they’re engineered, and those global rear-wheel-drive platform vehicles will be engineered here in the United States, as far as I know,”

Apparently the approach is similar to Ford’s decision to assign the design and development of global small cars to Europe.

“Small cars are Europe’s expertise and have been for the last 30 years. Big cars, America’s usually been pretty good at, when they do it right.”

Instead, Ford is supposedly gathering input on the platform from its operations around the globe, with the lead development team likely to be positioned in Dearborn, Michigan.

Regardless, global architecture based on the Australian developed Orion platform has not been completely ruled out – although Ford has maintained production of vehicles based on the platform would not take place in Australia.

  • Ross

    To the author… the first word in the last paragraph should be “Regardless”, or “Irrespective”.

  • TP

    All this is Corporate Ford for ‘We dont want that dudd platform, Ford Aus is doing badly enough… they have top brass jumping out of the burning wreck, lets not destroy the whole company with a dudd platform’

  • http://www.caradvice.com.au George

    Thanks Ross, fixed.

  • Andrew M

    so do you feel Ford US do a better job?
    NO they are just to stubborn to accept what ever comes from tiny ole aussie town

  • Oz.

    There’s nothing to worry about here. It’s only a chassie design that has a chance of not being used elsewhere, it’s not like the Falcon missed out on export to LHD countrys, [which has already happend]

    Toyota P…, what has low sales got to do with the platform?

  • Watto_Cobra

    I don’t get this.

    A recent bit of news (this week), with direct quotes from Mullaly says Aus will be the centre building (or at least engineering) the global RWD platform.

    Then this news says otherwise. What are they doing? Left hand not knowing what the right is doing again?

    TP, the CV platform is the ancient dud in need of replacing by the Orion’s architecture, not the other way around.

  • Richo

    the yanks just never learn do they.. GM finally realised that “hey those aussie blokes make a pretty good sedan eh?” yet ford USA still think “hey man despite our massive losses i reckon our cars must still be pretty god, lets keep making them exactly the same and not change anything!”

  • Elitist

    Do you actally think GM believes we make great cars…LOL’The only reason they come to our platform is because the exchange rate and it makes it cheaper than developing a whole new car….What an achievment! We are pleasing the maker of the worst cars in the world.

  • Captain Mainwaring

    What they’ve got in the US is 40 years behind the existing BF platform, so why would they want to reinvent the wheel to get something that’s 20 years behind? Oh, this is Ford US remember, originator of the phrase ‘Not Invented Here.’ This is the same organisation that persisted with side valve engines, transverse leaf suspension and mechanical brakes long after their rivals (and their overseas affiliates) had moved on. Nothing’s changed.

  • Adam (aka Mada)

    How about we wait for the final and accurate decision? Orion is released in 2 months time, lets enjoy that and lets leave the next all new platform for a furture debate!

  • Glen

    Well if this report is true we can probably say goodbye to the Aussie built Falcon. Ford Aus needs this global engineering to stay afloat i feel. I can’t see them doing real well just building Focus’. Ford US have no engineers. Obvious when you see the current Mustang still has the live rear axle.

    Its also proven that us Australians will not accept an American substitute for the Falcon (the Taurus fiasco). I think what might need to happen is to make the Falcon a niche model for it to survive and be exported around the world. So get rid of the fleet cars such as XT & Futura and only have XR6, Turbo, XR8, Fairmont Ghia & FPV Models and export them. Only way to survive I think and if we build them a LOT better than the US (which we do) then Europe will want them, Middle East & Asia and let Ford US stick with their out dated designs and platforms and sit there scratching their heads wondering what went wrong

  • Captain Mainwaring

    This quandary is partly out of Ford’s hands. The real problem is the fact that the Aussie large car market is now only 130,000 units a year and falling, shared amongst four manufacturers (at the moment). Ford can no longer justify a full manufacturing operation, even if they can get 40% of the large car market as this is only 52,000 cars a year. Holden are OK as they have a solid export program but this has taken many years to build up and Ford are not in a position to take this step on the back of a declining local sales base. The only answer is for Ford Aus. to become an assembler rather than a manufacturer (from the start of the next generation Falcon). The new car will share its platform with the next US large car but most of the hardware will come from the US. Hopefully Australia will be the design centre for the new platform but don’t hold your breath.

  • Adam (aka Mada)

    Ford AUS over the last 2 months have opened a new development centre, what would that indicate!?
    Why does bad news always seem so much more appealing to most people?
    Falcon is not the base in which Ford AUs exists anylonger, we need to get over that and move on.
    Captain Mainwaring…i agree that the large car market is making things very tuff for Holden and Ford and forcing a change in the way they primarily do business.
    If falcon doesn’t exist like it has done for the past 40 years, so be it.
    I’ll be happy for Ford AUS to remian alive and well in AUS, if that means no falcon so be it.
    I feel Ford AUS are going to be hanging around for a long time to come.

  • The Axe

    TP, stop talking out of your arse mate. Just go back to your Toyota forums and preach whatever you like there.

    Elitist, the exchange rate has nothing to do with it. The $A is now around $.90US now so it’s definately not that.
    We do in fact engineer great RWD platforms here in Australia. In Ford’s case, a very under-utilised one at that.

  • Adam (aka Mada)

    I agree with the ‘The axe’!

  • AG

    Why does your article quote J Mays?

    I also read Automotive News and my assessment of the situation is that several senior execs including Mulally have given some pretty big hints that Australia will be invloved in their global rwd

    Re the J Mays comments, my recollection is that they are quite old. Anyway, I would rate the importance of Mulally’s comments way ahead of J Mays so I think they are almost irrelevant.

    MORE IMPORTANT IS THAT JUST THIS MORNING in the Automotive News newsletter there is an audio podcast of Mulally speaking yesterday at the Auto News World Congress and he says Ford are “worlds best practice in RWD sedans outside of the US” and Ford need to leverage off this asset. As I am unaware of any rwd platforms outside of the US except Aust Falcon I assume he can only be referring to the Falcon.

    So senior execs (outside Mays) continue to keep returning to the references to Australian rwd capability (eg Mulally volunteering this comment in his presentation as recently as yesterday)and of the need to leverage off global assets.

    Where there is smoke there is fire…

    The lack of answering questons re manufacturing location, is a slight worry and a number of journo’s have interpreted this to mean they will import the Falcon from US(notwithstanding it would be engineered in Australia). I would doubt this, but to me this unfortunately remains the biggest question mark

    P.S. I interpret the appointment of Bill Osbourne as the new President of Ford Oz as a very positive sign that Australia is going to have a key role in rwd given he has a backgound of key roles on some of Ford’s most important projects (F series, V6) and is generally seen as a “rising star”. They must have something important for him to do out here….

  • o

    ok lets just leave it to the the pros of ford europe