Monday, April 19, 2010

Scoop! Next Ford Mustang Going Global

2011 Ford Mustang

New Car Coming for 50th Anniversary; Rear-Drive Aussie Falcon Likely Dead

"2014 is weighing pretty heavily on us right now," said one highly-placed Ford Motor Company source at the Detroit Show. The date is significant because it will mark the 50th anniversary of the Mustang, and Ford aims to have an all-new ponycar on the market to celebrate.

But with Ford's global rear-drive platform program apparently dead, Dearborn product planners are trying to figure out exactly how they're going to build it, especially as CEO Alan Mulally re-iterated at Detroit his view that automakers could no longer afford to build vehicles unique to one country.

Under the global rear-drive platform plan, the 2014 Mustang was to have shared its basic architecture with the next generation Australian Ford Falcon, and possibly a new flagship sedan for Lincoln. The Mustang would have been on the short wheelbase version of the platform, the Falcon on the mid-wheelbase, and the Lincoln on the long wheelbase. But that strategy has changed, for three key reasons:

1) A large rear drive sedan for the U.S. would require a lightweight platform architecture to help it meet forthcoming fuel economy and emissions standards.
2) Sales of the Australian Falcon slumped last year to just over 30,000 units, the lowest level in the nameplate's 49 year history in Australia.
3) Although it avoided bankruptcy, Ford burned through a lot of cash last year, and may not have the resource to devote to developing what would be a complex but relatively niche architecture.

The next Australian rear-drive... Ford Falcon is likely dead.

By the time a new rear-drive Lincoln could appear, the Town Car will have been out of production for three to four years, and with high gas prices in Australia, no-one expects major growth in Falcon sales. These factors taken together seem to have conspired to torpedo the global rear-drive platform. "The [next generation rear-drive] Falcon is dead," said one Ford insider bluntly, in apparent confirmation.

For all that, our source insists the 2014 Mustang will be rear drive. And yes, he adds, it will (finally) have an independent rear suspension. Put those two facts in the context of the global rear drive platform's demise and Mullaly's comments, and there's only one logical conclusion: The next-gen Mustang will be a global car built on its own rear-drive platform.

2011 Ford Mustang GT Rear View

Should the next Mustang maintain... a similar formula to the 2011 model?

Ford planners are reportedly looking at three possible directions for the 2014 Mustang. The first -- and perhaps the easiest -- is an evolution of the current car, with styling cues that would appeal to the traditionalist, and a continued focus on the 5.0-liter V-8 as the halo engine. The second is more of an M3-style car, probably with turbocharged V-6 power for markets like Europe. The third - and probably the least likely, says our source - is to transform the Mustang into an ultra-high tech, ultra-high performance coupe along the lines of Nissan's giant-killing GT-R.

Whatever the overall direction, the next generation Mustang will almost certainly be a smaller and lighter car than the current coupe to enable it to meet tougher gas mileage targets. As a side benefit, it would be more suited to the European and Asian markets, too.

The 2011 Ford Mustang GT at... the 2010 Detroit auto show.

The styling is a hot topic of discussion. The 2005 and 2010 Mustangs, clearly inspired by their mid-60s ancestors, have been hugely successful, but insiders doubt whether Ford can go down the retro road a third time and get away with it.

So, what sort of car should a 21st Century Mustang be: an all-American ponycar; an M3-style sophisto-coupe; or a Godzilla killer? And what should it look like?

Source: Motortrend">Motortrend

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