The current-generation Ford Falcon is likely to be sold in Australia for at least the next five years.

Federal Industry Minister, Senator Kim Carr, told reporters in Melbourne he expected the Geelong engine facility to continue manufacturing engines for the locally produced Falcon and Territory until “at least 2016”.

From that time the future of both models is unknown, with many predicting the locally designed and manufactured rear-wheel drive Falcon could be replaced by the front- and all-wheel drive Ford Taurus from the US. It is likely an imported large car like the Taurus would be re-engineered locally to better suit Australian consumers and conditions.

The Taurus is currently powered by Ford’s Duratec 35 V6 engine – a 3.5-litre units which produces 196kW of power and 338Nm of torque. The performance-oriented Taurus SHO scores the twin-turbocharged EcoBoost version of the Duratec V6, with significantly enhanced performance of 272kW and 475Nm.

Ford’s Geelong engine plant currently produces the ‘Barra’ inline six-cylinder petrol engine, and the EcoLPI LPG variant based on that engine will go into production in the coming months before going on sale mid-year.

The Barra was introduced into Ford Australia’s range in 2002 with the launch of the BA Falcon, and despite undergoing a number of upgrades and enhancements, the core elements of the engine will be 14 years old by 2016.

The engine is currently produced in three tunes: 195kW/391Nm naturally aspirated for Falcon, 270kW/533Nm turbocharged for XR6 Turbo and 310kW/565Nm turbocharged for FPV F6 models.

Ford Australia is likely to make further performance and efficiency enhancements to the engine before the end of its production lifecycle – potentially coming as early as September/October this year with the facelifted Falcon model – although this is yet to be confirmed.

The Barra engine is currently supplemented by the UK-sourced 2.7-litre diesel engine in the Territory and the 5.0-litre ‘Coyote’ V8 from Canada, and will be joined by the 2.0-litre EcoBoost four-cylinder engine from Spain early in 2012.

Ford Australia is currently manufacturing vehicles on a three-days-per-week schedule as a result of decreased demand for its Falcon and Territory.

Five-day production will resume in July, although daily vehicle production will decrease from 260 vehicles per day to 209.

Like the entire Australian automotive industry, Ford Australia’s sales took a heavy hit in April. The brand sold 2233 less vehicles than it did in March 2011 and 1727 less than April 2010, and as a result slipped to fourth in the sales race behind Toyota, Holden and Hyundai.

After three months of the year, Ford Australia’s sales were 3.4 percent ahead of the same time last year, although a horror April sent them 7.7 percent backwards to 3.3 percent behind year-to-date.

The Escape, Falcon Ute, Fiesta, Focus, Mondeo, Ranger 4x2 and Territory all endured their worst sales month for the year in April, while the Falcon sedan’s result was its second-lowest for the year, ahead of only the record-breaking January low.