Monday, February 13, 2006

Ford SUV/Crossovers down under over at AutoBlog

Over at AutoBlog, they're discussing the Turbocharged version of Ford's Territory Crossover SUV. An impressive vehcile based partly on their domestic market Falcon chassis. Base models are powered by the 182 kw(243 hp) 4.0L I-6 and the new Turbo makes 240 kw (321 hp) with the intercooled engine from the XR6. The author goes on to speculate wether a vehicle like this wouldn't help the "way forward" at Ford here in the US. Now not to defend Ford, but there will be a 311 hp 4.4L V8 for the Freestyle in the future and possibly the 250 hp 3.5 L V6 also. These improvements would be comparable to the Ausie ute's numbers and bring Ford inline with the competition.

I've been saying for quite a while that Ford's Astralian Falcon/Fairmont chassis, and it's derivatives pickup and crossover should come here, simply as an enthusiast. But realistically bringing all of those vehicles here wouldn't improve Ford's position much and the lack of front wheel drive may actually have a negative impact in areas of the US like the North East where heavy snow is not unusual. Like this past weekend's blizzard, slippery conditions are a fact of life for half of the US market.

So in my opinion, the Territory may not be suitable for the US market when compared to the very capable FreeStyle, but the Falcon/Fairmont could easilly replace the Crown Victoria/Grand Marquis/Town Car. It's much better suited for that position, than the Volvo S80/ Ford 500 chassis, that underpins the new Mark S.

And for a new Lincoln, Ford could take that Fairmont chassis, install the new 2.7 L Diesel V6 and have a real competative model. Consider it, rear wheel drive, with IRS and a powerful and economical Diesel. Ford's Lincoln division could have a real world beater here. And the higher prices a Lincoln could demand, would make importing the design more practical. Hell, it would give Lincoln a model to export to Europe and compete with BMW and Mercedes on their home turf.

The importing of the design as oposed to the vehicle is what I see as the solution. If built here, the currency fluctuations wouldn't be as much of a concern. If Ford can import the designs of the Volvo S80/XC90 and Mazda 6 here, why not the Falcon/Fairmont?

I'll say again, Ford has the know how from a design point of view (at least overseas they do) why not bring some of these models here? All the hype recently about Mazda designing Ford's new B segment model, is ridiculous when you consider that the Fiesta sells so well world wide. Why can Ford compete globally, but not develop anything for the US? Why does Ford's design have to be "Dave"? Why can't it be "Bruce" or "Karl" ???


jwfisher said...

Funny thing about the AutoBlog... posting this same thing just two hours after I did. Hmmm... must be "like minds".

An important thing to keep in mind when it comes to the Ford cars and SUVs: "exchange rate". This has killed off Australian imports before... it could happen again at any time. Further bad news: the assembly quality of the Fords over there is definitely not world class... it's far below par what would be expected here. So, IMHO, the current Aussie Fords wouldn't make it. Just like the Holdens weren't very good.

That leaves Plan B: design a common rear-wheel drive chassis and build them in both places. That has economic advantages to Ford of Australia - they can't keep building an orphan chassis in this modern world. Oh wait - Plan B has already been put in place by GM. And it's working!

(blogs and website)

Big Ford Fan said...

Jeff, sorry I'm taking so long to catch up on comments. I guess they've been reading your blog??

I can understand your comments about exchange rates, I'm not saying import the cars, I'm saying import the design, building them here negates curency exchange fluctuation. I've heard that quality was an issue in the past down under, but also that they have gotten their house in order so to speak.

Your "Plan B" works for me too, but does the Aussie chassis need a redesign so soon, it's only a year or two old now. I still say, build it in both places, and take advantage of US design and quality for future mods. And yes, GM has started this. That's a clear reason it can work.