By: Gordan Lomas. The Daily Telegraph.
New Ford Australia chief Bill Osborne says he would have made the FG diesel variant had he been at the helm earlier.
Osborne, who took over two months ago, confirms a diesel engine, almost certainly a reworked version of the PSA group’s unit used by Peugeot, Jaguar and Land Rover, will be dropped into Falcons and Territorys in 2010.
He says development of the FG Falcon is too far advanced to initiate any diesel program to be ready for the May 1 launch.
“I think the team made the right decision to delay introduction (of diesel) so we can get our calibration process right,” he says.
“Generally speaking, we like to have two full summers and winters to do calibration work and that allows us to launch a quality powertrain with excellent calibration. In the end if you rush stuff to market you risk quality.”
Osborne, as with most in the industry, has concerns about the family-car segment — in free-fall and under pressure chiefly from small cars and SUVs.
“In all honesty I’m not that worried about the product but I’m a little worried about the segment,” he says. “Our goal is to have the FG Falcon ready to revitalise the segment and then bring in more fuel-efficient powertrains.” Ford is hoping to find export markets for the Falcon but the new offering first needs to be a fashionable car again on home soil before those export plans are swung into action.
However, Osborne believes the new car is good enough to take on the world. Serious discussions about the export potential of the Falcon have been simmering since Osborne took on his new role as Ford Australia president two months ago.
With the Commodore now being sold in the US after its huge acceptance in the Middle Eastern markets from the late 1990s, among other regions such as South America, Osborne says the new Falcon is good enough to hold its own anywhere.
“I strongly believe that it is a car for all markets,” says Osborne, who was formerly based in Canada. “I came to Australia without any preconceptions about Falcon whatsoever. The minute I drove the FG my first reaction was that we should be selling it around the world.”
Ford’s head of global product development visited Australia this week, with Osborne outlining specific details about Falcon’s export potential.
“We should be trying to promote this vehicle in China and I think it would be the perfect vehicle platform for making luxury brands in the US,” he says. “Those are the discussions that I am trying to engage in now.”