Ford Falcon front-wheel drive debate continues to rage

More evidence emerged yesterday that the future of the Ford Falcon as we know it could be under threat from within Ford’s ranks.
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Ford global design boss J Mays told reporters at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit that Falcon fans should not hold their breath waiting for a traditional rear-wheel drive architecture for the Blue Oval’s next large sedan.

The current generation Falcon is expected to remain on sale in its rear-wheel drive form until at least 2015, and beyond there it will adopt the brand’s global ‘One Ford’ strategy, where one large platform will be used to serve all markets.

If Ford was to discontinue the large rear-wheel drive platform, the most likely replacement for Falcon is the front- and all-wheel drive architecture currently underpinning the Taurus in North America.

Ford Australia has been relatively subdued in its reaction to Mays’ comments, admitting that the future of Falcon is a long-term issue and one that is far from decided.

“Development of the future-model Falcon is underway as part of Ford's normal product development plans. Design and engineering proposals are currently being considered by the company's teams but a plan has not yet been approved,” Ford Australia said in a statement.“No decisions about the design nor on the platform have been made or locked in. At this point, it is too early to provide any specific details about future Falcon models.”

It is understood an internal decision on the layout of the next Falcon will be made in around six months.

The speculation is certainly not new. Discussion about the future of the Falcon has reared its head numerous times over recent years, and Mays’ comments are just the latest in the developing saga.

In 2008, Ford Motor Co. boss Alan Mulally flagged the potential of front- and all-wheel drive for Falcon.

In 2009, Ford Australia’s then-CEO Marin Burela confirmed the next generation Falcon would be a ‘world car’ drawing from a global architecture.

And last year, Mulally again emphasised the imminence of the brand’s ‘One Ford’ strategy, when media speculation was rife that the current FG Falcon could be the last.