Clock ticking for Falcon

Posted on February 26th, 2009 in Ford,Opinion by Julian Edgar

Hastened by the current world financial crisis and its effects on (particularly) US car makers, there is growing discussion in this country about the demise of the Ford Falcon model.

What to many people was unthinkable even only a year or two ago is now becoming an ‘it’ll probably happen’ scenario that while not palatable, is at least open for discussion.

As was always profoundly obvious to anyone looking at the car industry with unblinkered vision, the FG Falcon was never going to be a success – and it hasn’t proved to be. 

Released in February of 2008, Falcon sales in that year show none of the upward trend that would be required (and expected) from the release of a new model.

According to V-Facts, in 2006 the combined Falcon and ute sales were 58,248; in 2007 they were 47,699; and in 2008 they were 44,536. That’s a drop over that short period of nearly 24 per cent – and includes the release of the brand new model!

If anyone can point to any foreseeable factors that would halt or reverse that trend in Falcon sales, I’d love to hear them.

And if that trend isn’t to level or reverse, goodbye Falcon…

I don’t think that even better fuel economy or other achievable changes will now help: I think the decline is terminal. The retention of the old engine for a few more years makes me think that Ford also believes the end is near: why re-engineer the car for new V6 engines when the model life will be so short?

The blame can only be placed at the feet of Ford product planners, who made a host of poor decisions in a climate where far better outcomes were possible. With the FG they had one real chance to turn things around, to build a car that actually matched where the market was going  – and they blew it.

Putting a turbo petrol engine in the Territory when a diesel would obviously – so bloody obviously – have sold better? Yep, again they blew it.

What a waste of engineering talent. Of jobs and of skills and of capabilities.

63 Responses to 'Clock ticking for Falcon'

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  1. Franki said,

    on March 14th, 2009 at 2:49 pm

    To be honest, I don’t think there are any longterm viable australian made cars.. as long as 3rd world countries continue to be 3rd world countries it will always be cheaper to have them imported from somewhere without our standard of living or salary expectations.

    Case in point is just how many Holdens were actually made by daewoo since 2000?

    I guess the writing is on the wall in that respect.. I guess what arced me up was that this article “should” have been about the australian car manufacturing days are numbered, not just the Falon, but every australian made car simply because if you make it in taiwon/china/india/korea, you can sell it cheaper here with higher profit and lower price. So logically it does’t make sense to make them here.. Even the government knows that which is why all the handouts and import tarrifs are in place.

  2. Julian Edgar said,

    on March 14th, 2009 at 5:31 pm

    “this article ‘should’ have been about the australian car manufacturing days are numbered”

    Well, I don’t think they are.

  3. Franki said,

    on March 14th, 2009 at 10:23 pm

    Well then I guess I’m wondering why you singled out the Falcon then.. The company backing them is in much better condition than the one backing Holden.. (ie Ford didn’t want the handouts, GM absolutely had to have them)
    All of the criticisms that you level at the Falcon apply to the Commodore as well.. I don’t know about now, but historically the falcon had more profit in it over the commodore on a per car basis. Both the Falcon and Commodore had similar sales declines in the past year (as did just about everything else).

    So why did you pick the Falcon? Sure, the commodore gets exported to the US.. but how is that going to project in the future when the country they are exporting to, is the one that just about sent GM to the bankruptcy court in the first place?

  4. Julian Edgar said,

    on March 15th, 2009 at 6:32 am

    Um, because Holden sells 40 per cent more Commodores in Aust than Ford sells Falcons? Because Holden exports their cars to the Middle East? Because the development costs for Toyota Australia of the Aurion and Camry were tiny when compared with the Falcon and Commodore – and Toyota also sells a huge number of Australian-built cars overseas?

    Again, it’s very obvious that, of all the Australian made cars, Ford with the Falcon is in the most precarious state.

  5. Franki said,

    on March 15th, 2009 at 12:32 pm

    According to this:

    Ford look like choosing one platform for which to build each car class from worldwide to reduce cost and consolidate assets.. They don’t know if the Falcon will be the platform for the bigger family class or something else.. but when it happens the production costs for Ford AU would drop massively. (unless the falcon platform is chosen in which case I’d imagine they’d be subsidised.)

    There might be hope yet. Reading the article, Ford have apparently said some of the same things you have.

  6. Dean said,

    on March 26th, 2009 at 9:30 pm

    I think the Falcon name will remain, but the car won’t be the current Falcon. The upcoming Ford Taurus looks alright, I could imagine that with different styling would be the next Falcon.

    Some might complain about FWD, but hey, they offer AWD versions in the States.

    That said, why buy a Falcon when a Mondeo is almost the same size, cheaper, better looking, and more economical to boot? For all of those complaining about the lack of a diesel Falcon? The Mondeo already comes in a diesel.

    If you want to tow, a 2WD petrol family car is a compromise anyway, a diesel 4WD would be much better suited.

  7. Franki said,

    on March 26th, 2009 at 10:23 pm

    I own a 2.4lt turbo diesel Hilux Surf 4×4 and it costs me far more to run than my falcon ever did… The falcon might not be the perfect car for towing.. but it does alright with my 18 foot FG half cabin.

  8. Tristan said,

    on March 27th, 2009 at 1:25 am

    Quote for relevance: “Um, because Holden sells 40 per cent more Commodores in Aust than Ford sells Falcons?” – Julian Edgar

    Hmm. Julian, just out of interest, rather than a single marque, how many Australian built cars are sold by Ford vs Holden? I think you’ll find that sales volumes between the two are actually quite close. I’ll dig up some figures… Okay, looking at the Vfacts for Feb 09. Falcon + Falcon Ute + Territory = 4208 Commodore +Commodore Ute + Statesman = 4085

    Okay, so apparently Ford won in Feb. Hmm.

    Now I agree that the FG falcon is underwhelming, Your criticism seems mirrored by the reviewers for Wheels COTY, however it seems harsh to suggest that Ford Aus’s future looks worse than Holden’s given the current issues with GM in the USA.

    On a semi related note, do you think Burela is likely to be a better thing for Ford Aus than Osborne, or Gorman before him?

  9. Julian Edgar said,

    on March 27th, 2009 at 7:26 am

    On a semi related note, do you think Burela is likely to be a better thing for Ford Aus than Osborne, or Gorman before him?

    I wouldn’t have the faintest idea.

    When the discussion is specifically about the Falcon , I don’t think you can add in other models as if they were the same car. On that basis the Fairlane would still be being manufactured!

  10. doctorpat said,

    on March 27th, 2009 at 9:09 am

    I don’t think you can completely separate the other models from the falcon either.
    When it comes to the decision to invest in designing the next Falcon (the original basis of this argument) Ford is going to look at how many vehicles it is going to amortize the costs over. And for a lot of the design/testing/tooling work, all the vehicles Tristan mentioned use the same, or the same family, of components.

    So the investment decision will be based on all those numbers.

    This was, after all, Fords thinking in developing the Territory in the first place.

  11. Franki said,

    on March 27th, 2009 at 9:57 am

    I think Tristan an docpat have a point..

    The territory and falcon ute share a pretty a pretty decent part of their drive trains with the falcon (and lots of other bits too).. so the cost of engine development (for example) is spread around a heap more than just on the falcon and is therefore much easier to justify.

  12. Trent said,

    on May 10th, 2009 at 3:16 am

    This has been an interesting read so far. So lets add to it. Hate to say it Julian but Falcon sales rose 8% since the new FG. but still being owned by the US isn’t helping However Commodore is looking a lot more shaky. There flagship V8 has stopped being exported to the US because of pontiac being shut down. Ford has asked for bail out money once yet GMC went back again. Chrysler has filed bankruptcy in a bid to create a joint merger with fiat. With such big financial movement in the US i would say the Aussie 2 are doing will in spite of the down turn. As for this Toyota there sales have plummeted further then both GMC and ford. Their Hybrid sales have slashed by 45% and still declining.

    Let do a bit of thinking.
    Ford and Holden are have austalian built cars. Toyota is japanese imported.
    Labour cost alone Toyota is a clear winner. The factories are cheeper, and the reasources are ever so cheap because of it free trade agreements with china. So let me piece together this puzzle for you. China has free trade agreement with us (heavily in reasources) japan sources our resourse from china (its close and has free trade agreement)and sources labour because of how cheap it is. Japan sends parts back to aus for assembly (this is the most expensive part). and that is why they sell for a lower price. what you are doing with this article is damming all austalian built and owned vehicles. As for the Hybrids. They are not all there cracked up to be. Low battery life. Software problems and they do not repay themselves.

    So on this not. I do find your statements a little misguiding, more research is needed next time you wish to make allegations about the life span of cars. Ohh and If anyone argues about being green with this hybrid and Plug and charge cars. Where is the electricity coming from, Coal. And how muh are you willing to pay on your next electricity bill. Think about it 7hr charge for 300km hmm. Makes you wonder.

  13. franki said,

    on May 10th, 2009 at 12:26 pm

    I think that might be a typo.. I don’t think Ford asked for any money with GM and Chrysler from the US government. They just reserved the right to should they need it.

    With Pontiac gone.. 30 percent less commodores will get sold from the article I read.. I think that alone just made the Camry Australia’s most popular car by itself. Ford really is consolidating though… and if the FG drivetrain (or the alloy version that follows it) is choosen as fords worldwide rear wheel drive platform… Ford au will do nicely from it.

    all speculation though.. they could all go down the tubes and leave us with Kia/Hyundai/proton.. with their labour costs they are probably the ones in the least pain from the crisis.