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Ford throttles back to protect Falcon


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Ford throttles back to protect Falcon


July 3, 2010

Ford's Mondeo engine will be introduced to the local market in the Falcon

Ford's Mondeo engine will be introduced to the local market in the Falcon

A more efficient engine being launched overseas in the Mondeo next month will be delayed for the Australian market, writes RICHARD BLACKBURN.

Ford's Mondeo mid-size car will miss out on two new more-powerful and fuel-efficient engines as Ford Australia looks to protect its locally built Falcon from friendly fire.

The controversial plan, which effectively robs Peter to pay Paul, will see local Mondeos continue with an underpowered four-cylinder petrol engine and a diesel engine tuned for economy rather than power.

The new Mondeo will make its public debut next month at the Moscow motor show and will go on sale in Europe in October with a cutting-edge turbocharged four-cylinder engine that should deliver Falcon-like performance while using less fuel than Australia's best-selling small car, the Mazda3.

But the engine will be delayed - and possibly ignored - for the Australian market because Ford plans to introduce it on an updated Falcon in the third quarter of next year, giving Ford a more efficient alternative to the six-cylinder engines that have dominated the locally made large-car category for decades.

Likewise, a new, more powerful 2.2-litre turbo diesel engine will be shelved for Australia in favour of a more frugal 2.0-litre diesel engine designed to attack Toyota's hybrid Camry.

A spokeswoman for Ford, Sinead McAlary, would not comment on the facelifted Mondeo.

But she says the new diesel engine is not part of the company's short-term plans.

"We've already announced we will introduce a new 2.0-litre diesel engine in the Mondeo in the third quarter of this year," McAlary says.

She says the smaller engine is better suited to Ford's needs in Australia as it allows Ford to compete for fleet business against the Toyota Camry Hybrid.

The Mondeo diesel uses less fuel than the petrol-electric Toyota, although it emits more carbon dioxide.

McAlary says a diesel engine, combined with a wagon derivative, gives Mondeo "a point of difference" from the Falcon, which won't be offered with a diesel powerplant.

"Diesel is not on the radar for Falcon at all. We have an LPI [liquid-injection LPG] version of the Falcon next year and we'll be concentrating on that," she says.

More than 50 per cent of Mondeo sales are diesel, McAlary says, and that figure is expected to climb when the company offers a diesel version of the wagon for the first time later this year.

The plan to separate Falcon and Mondeo highlights the uncertainty surrounding the future of the locally built Falcon, which last week celebrated its 50th anniversary.

Ford's global boss, Alan Mulally, says the company will move to just four basic car platforms in the future. They are the city runabout Fiesta, the Focus small car, mid-size Mondeo and US-designed Taurus large car, all of which are either front-wheel or all-wheel-drive models.

The Falcon is the odd man out in the blueprint for the future, as it is rear-drive and developed solely for the Australian market.

The European Mondeo will get a 176kW four-cylinder turbo petrol engine expected to use just 7.6 litres of fuel per 100 kilometres. The engine is 33 per cent more powerful than the Australian-spec Mondeo engine and uses almost 20 per cent less fuel.

A less-powerful 149kW version of the engine could potentially find its way to Australia, although Ford will initially continue to make the existing non-turbo four-cylinder.

The European Mondeo's new 2.2-litre diesel puts out 147kW of power and is likely to offer more than 400Nm of torque, compared with 120kW and 340Nm for the Australian Mondeo. All engines will be available with a dual-clutch auto transmission, which is more efficient than a traditional auto.

Unlike the new engines, the styling and equipment changes to Mondeo should filter through to Australia this year.

They include a new grille and bonnet, front bumpers incorporating daytime-running LED lights and redesigned tail-lights. Inside is a new centre console, upgraded materials and new satellite-navigation and stereo systems.

The car will also have a range of fuel-saving technologies including regenerative charging, an economy mode and an active grille shutter system, which regulates airflow to reduce drag.

Safety will be increased with features including a lane-departure warning, blind-spot warning and a rear-view camera.



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