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Old 03-24-2008, 02:57 PM   #1
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Detriot News Autos Insider: Ford moving ahead with RWD plans

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Monday, March 24, 2008
Bringing up the rear: Ford to revive rear-wheel drive in U.S.
Bryce G. Hoffman / The Detroit News

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Ford Motor Co. is bringing rear-wheel-drive development back to the United States from Australia. The automaker also has green-lighted a vehicle platform that will provide the basis for a new generation of rear-wheel-drive cars, according to sources familiar with Ford's plans.

Australia, where such vehicles remain popular, had emerged as Ford's center for rear-wheel-drive development. But changing economics have convinced the company to bring the program back to Dearborn.

Sources said the new rear-wheel-drive platform will provide the underlying architecture for an all-new Ford Mustang, as well as for new Ford and Lincoln sedans. The same platform will be used for a next-generation Falcon in Australia. Product codes already exist for these cars, but it will still be about four years before they arrive in showrooms.

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Ford would not comment on moving the rear-wheel-drive program, but said Australia will continue to play an important role in the company's product development operations.

"On rear-wheel-drive, as we have already stated, we are working on a new platform and portfolio of vehicles," Derrick Kuzak, Ford's global head of product development, said Friday. "We will have more to say in the future."

Analysts say a solid rear-wheel-drive offering is vital to any company that wants to be a truly global automobile manufacturer.

"Americans have had 28-plus years of being hit over the head with the idea that front-wheel-drive is better, but there are segments of the market -- here and abroad -- that want rear-wheel-drive," said Jim Hall of 2953 Analytics LLP in Birmingham. "They need it for China, they need it for the Middle East and they need it for North America if they want to sell to certain enthusiasts."

And he said there are good financial reasons for developing the new platform here -- the weak U.S. dollar, for one.

"You don't save any money with Australian dollars anymore," Hall said. "There are economies of scale in engineering too."

Most cars sold in the United States prior to the 1980s were rear-wheel-drive, and fans still believe it offers a sportier ride and the opportunity to design more aggressive-looking cars. But front-wheel-drive, which offers better fuel economy and surer handling, has since become the norm, both here and abroad.

But the success of domestic rear-wheel-drive offerings from Chrysler LLC, such as the Chrysler 300 and Dodge Charger, has convinced automakers that there is still a market for these beefier rides.

General Motors Corp. offers rear-wheel-drive products, too, including the ever-popular Chevrolet Corvette and the new Pontiac G8, and others are under development -- though some executives have expressed concerns about the impact of new federal fuel-economy standards on those programs.

German brands like BMW and Mercedes are big on rear-wheel-drive, as are some exotic European marques like Ferrari.

Ford also sells rear-wheel-drive cars in the United States, including the popular Mustang and the more workaday Crown Victoria and Lincoln Town Car. Production of those big sedans is slated to end by 2011, leaving a gap in Ford's lineup that the company is eager to fill with sportier offerings.

The Interceptor concept that Ford displayed at the Detroit auto show in 2007 could well be the shape of things to come, though not necessarily the size.

The back-to-the-future muscle car was a real crowd-pleaser. According to Ford sources, CEO Alan Mulally was dismayed to learn that the company he had just been hired to lead had no plans to actually build it. Since then, work began on a production vehicle that will have a similar look, but will be a bit smaller than the concept in order to achieve better gas mileage.

But Hall said Ford could also bring the next-generation Falcon to the United States, given the company's push to simplify its global vehicle lineup.

Product analyst Erich Merkle of IRN Inc. in Grand Rapids hopes the Interceptor look will prevail. He said that aging baby boomers would guarantee a market for such a vehicle.

"Boomers are not going to shoehorn themselves into a Fiesta," he said, referring to Ford's new subcompact. "The Crown Victoria, the Town Car -- those are never going to come back into vogue. A vehicle that draws some retro cues from the past and blends them with a modern look would be a design differentiator -- but it needs to be thoroughly American."
http://www.detnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll...803240338/1148
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Old 03-24-2008, 03:08 PM   #2
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That's...cool. I guess. They didn't say much about the platform.

Discuss. Talk, whatever. Just don't turn this into a "Let's flame GM" thread.
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Old 03-24-2008, 05:03 PM   #3
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hmm, if ford goes ahead with this we will see more rwd offerins from GM. if not, things stay the way they are now
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Old 03-24-2008, 06:59 PM   #4
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That's...cool. I guess. They didn't say much about the platform.

Discuss. Talk, whatever. Just don't turn this into a "Let's flame GM" thread.

Or for that matter a "lets flame Ford thread" haha!
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Old 03-24-2008, 07:17 PM   #5
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This is great news! Competition is always good for the consumers, as it brings prices down and quality up. Hopefully this will encourage GM to enthusiastically pursue many more RWD options on the table. Thanks Ford! I gotta say, the Falcon and Interceptor concept are pretty nice looking. I like the name Interceptor too.
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Old 03-24-2008, 07:25 PM   #6
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hmm, if ford goes ahead with this we will see more rwd offerins from GM. if not, things stay the way they are now
I hope this retro trend of RWD cars continues to grow. I'd like my kids to be able to look in their rear view mirror and know what kind of car is behind them just by the front grill design like I used to be able to do. I'm tired of seeing so many cars that look so similar that you have to get up close and personal just to discover the name brand.
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Old 03-24-2008, 07:31 PM   #7
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I'd like my kids to be able to look in their rear view mirror and know what kind of car is behind them just by the front grill design like I used to be able to do. I'm tired of seeing so many cars that look so similar that you have to get up close and personal just to discover the name brand.

That is an odd desire for your children if you ask me , but, I think that might be the generation gap, the only cars I don't know are the ones I just don't care about. However, if anyone lined up a crap ton of debadged cars I could atleast tell what brand they were from based on styling ques.
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Old 03-24-2008, 07:49 PM   #8
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That is an odd desire for your children if you ask me , but, I think that might be the generation gap, the only cars I don't know are the ones I just don't care about. However, if anyone lined up a crap ton of debadged cars I could atleast tell what brand they were from based on styling ques.
Imagine, if you can, driving on your local main street and most cars that you see will be in high demand in 20, 30, 40 years.....thats the era/generation I come from. How many cars of today do you think will be in that catagory? Line up todays cars and look at them from a distance, not much to seperate them and make them stand out. The retro machines are the best thing the BIG 3 has done in a long long time.
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Old 03-24-2008, 07:58 PM   #9
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Well thats true, I guess but there are a few that will stand out, even if some of them you will not agree with, those being

Toyota Supra
RX-7
Corvette (as always)
Camaro
Mustang

As for the ones from the past
Camaro
Mustang
Challenger
Chevelle
Corvette
Charger

I'm sure there there are more but in the end it still comes down to the generation gap your experienncing lol. I'm sure I will remember the cars I have grown up with.

Undoubtedly you will think all the car's I mentioned look the same from the top list, but in all honesty the same could be said about all the Muscle cars of the past.
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Old 03-24-2008, 10:18 PM   #10
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There's also the 86-92 corollas, nissan 240sx, 300zx, 350z.

As for the rwd platform, coming from austrailia......Sounds familiar, no?
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Old 04-01-2008, 01:46 PM   #11
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Apparently, spy shots pin Ford Falcon prototypes in Detroit.
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Old 04-01-2008, 02:26 PM   #12
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Old 04-01-2008, 03:24 PM   #13
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It's really goin' down.
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