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SOURCE: Detroit News

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

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.

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.
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Of course my first thought reading this first thing in the morning is "How can GM be pulling back from RWD projects just as FoMoCo is moving forward on their plans?"

The short answer may be that GM sells more SUVs and Trucks as an overall volume than FoMoCo does and thus can't afford to spend so much on RWD in light of new CAFE standards. But as folks move way from BOF SUVs/Trucks/Etc and back in to cars and crossovers, I can't help but think that this needs to be addressed and GM needs to reconsider it's RWD plans at some point...

It doesn't make GM's decision any easier to swallow as Ford moves ahead.
 

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If this doesn't help make the case for a RWD Impala then I don't know what does....The Crown vic is old school and sells because it's cheap and durable. Performance wise, it sucks, yet it still sells in large quantities to police forces across the country. Even if the market doesn't respond well to the Camaro, G8, and a new Impala (they will respond well..), GM could sell this car to all those departments that are trading in their front drive Impala for a Crown Vic. BRPD is shying away from the Chargers when they had to replace every Impala in their fleet after only 75,000 miles. They claim that the Ford Crown Vic last twice as long and is easier to repair, and the cops prefer the larger interiors. GM needs RWD, and they need to make it as durable as possible and they need to bring RWD back to mainstream brands. The flagship Chevrolet sedan should be rear wheel drive (or AWD) like the Corvette, Camaro, and all decent Cadillacs.


Cops need something to drive, as do people like my parents who want a nice RWD car but hate Chrysler (but think the Pontiac is to racy). The Chevrolet Impala, or Caprice, should be brought here along with the Buick Park Avenue.

GM has small displacement engines now that can toat these cars around and still get decent mileage...not to mention the future two mode hybrid powertrains being utilized across the line.
 

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I believe GM is still serious about building a RWD Caprice and G8 alongside the Camaro in Oshawa. The Impala will continue to be FWD for the foreseeable future just like the Fusion and Taurus will be for Ford.
 

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It's time to revive RWD thanks to advances like StabiliTrak and AWD and tougher fuel economy standards. Tougher fuel economy standards mean less BOF trucks and SUVs need to be built (look at the supplies on these vehicles) and more "crossover" vehicles that offer towing and hauling capabilities should come to market. Crossovers don't have to be FWD like Lambda and Theta. These vehicles would get only marginally better economy in the city, but they would be much better on the highway raising the average for CAFE.

There's still a place for FWD cars and BOF trucks and SUVs, but I think it's time for RWD to return in more than just sports cars and large sedans.
 

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Of course my first thought reading this first thing in the morning is "How can GM be pulling back from RWD projects just as FoMoCo is moving forward on their plans?"
Also, I guess the upcoming Ford Twin-Force....errr I mean Ecoboost engines will be a hidden ace and a rabbit out of the magic hat for Ford and it could even caught Toyota's and Honda's pants down.
 

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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
Corvette? Why would they even mention it... it's a given.

Try, G8, Solstice, Sky, CTS, STS, XLR
and the upcoming Zeta and Alpha families.
 

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...but it will still be about four years before they arrive in showrooms.
So now Ford is playing GM's 'everyone look at our 4 year plan' game? Nice.

Anyways, Wake me when it actually happens, & hopefully Ford NA will get a sense of style that doesn't involve Gillette before then.
 

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Wow...Ford is actually developing the platform in the US.

Too bad GM is so bent on having the engineering for most things overseas. The Mustang might very well be next car after all.
 

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hmmm .......... Falcon developed in North America????


Australians will NOT be liking this.
Hell, everyone just hated the idea of using non-aussie V6s in the Falcons .... now the platform will be developed elsewhere too

oh dear..... for the Aussies.



For the Americans .... this is probably great news.
 

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Hmmm...time will tell if this was really a smart economic move, or just chauvinism from Ford NA.
 

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hmmm .......... Falcon developed in North America????


Australians will NOT be liking this.
Hell, everyone just hated the idea of using non-aussie V6s in the Falcons .... now the platform will be developed elsewhere too

oh dear..... for the Aussies.



For the Americans .... this is probably great news.
They will probably take the Falcon chassis and change the North American version to look like the interceptor concept.

I'm sure the Aussies' Falcon will not change too much, and I am sure it will continue to be desinged in Australia.
 

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So now Ford is playing GM's 'everyone look at our 4 year plan' game? Nice.

Anyways, Wake me when it actually happens, & hopefully Ford NA will get a sense of style that doesn't involve Gillette before then.
Thank you. I hate the new chrome grill...overdone on everything, and now they've ruined the F150. Chrome is nice when used sparingly.

I am trying to locate a body colored grill for my Silverado that I like because there is too much chrome. I probably should have gone with the GMC but I didn't like how the fenders didn't match.

Bring the euro designs over here and make the new RWD sedan look like the interceptor concept.
 

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hmmm .......... Falcon developed in North America????


Australians will NOT be liking this.
Hell, everyone just hated the idea of using non-aussie V6s in the Falcons .... now the platform will be developed elsewhere too

oh dear..... for the Aussies.



For the Americans .... this is probably great news.
I have no problem with Australia...but I'm tired of all of the jobs going elsewhere. I'm pretty excited about this.

So, the Mustang will continue to be (1) made, (2) designed, and (3) engineered in the US.

Meanwhile, the Camaro will be (1) made in Canada and (2) mostly engineered in Australia. I believe it was designed in the US.

For me, if it comes down to those two, that will be the difference in my choosing the Mustang over the Camaro. Too bad...I'm a life-long Camaro/Firebird fan.
 

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I am trying to locate a body colored grill for my Silverado that I like because there is too much chrome. I probably should have gone with the GMC but I didn't like how the fenders didn't match.
QUOTE]

What do you think about the Silverado using the Tahoe grill instead? I prefer that grille and I wonder if others would too. Or does it not look like a grill that shoudl be on a pickup truck? If they are the same size grills, it would be an easy changeover, I would think...but I have no idea if they are.
 

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I have no problem with Australia...but I'm tired of all of the jobs going elsewhere. I'm pretty excited about this.

So, the Mustang will continue to be (1) made, (2) designed, and (3) engineered in the US.

Meanwhile, the Camaro will be (1) made in Canada and (2) mostly engineered in Australia. I believe it was designed in the US.

For me, if it comes down to those two, that will be the difference in my choosing the Mustang over the Camaro. Too bad...I'm a life-long Camaro/Firebird fan.
No.

These are going to change to global designs if they are not already. The primary basis for these cars might be the previous generation of an Aussie-only vehicle, but you can bet that engineers from Australia, North America, and Germany will be working day and night on this.

The whole idea is that these designs have to be compatible with every market requirements in fuel efficiency, safety, and powertrain. It's always daytime somewhere, so this makes the design faster and cheaper. It's the only thing that I think GM has done that actually streamlines and lowers cost and time of production.

The Solstice/Sky were "global" designs that NAmerica, Australia, and Germany had a hand in. The T355 truck involved Japanese engineers from Isuzu and American engineers from GM. I think the Epsilon II, Delta, and the new T370 pickup/SUV chassis is involving every major design center for that car...everyone from Australia, Korea, China, German, and North America.
Toyota does this with some of their global cars, but many are market specific. The more "one size fits all" that GM can make, the better. Obviously, the full size pickup trucks and the Corvette is going to remain mostly North American. Commercial trucks, now that Navistar owns most of them will be a global thing. Australia and China will probably have a larger role with mid sized RWD cars while Europe, America, and Korea are more involved with economy cars than Australia. Hybrid powertrains and diesels will probably involve everyone, but the project managers and what not will be from whatever market has the expertise.
I remember reading that the T900s had some GMDAT engineering work as there were details that they could contribute with.
 

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Thank you. I hate the new chrome grill...overdone on everything, and now they've ruined the F150. Chrome is nice when used sparingly.

I am trying to locate a body colored grill for my Silverado that I like because there is too much chrome. I probably should have gone with the GMC but I didn't like how the fenders didn't match.

Bring the euro designs over here and make the new RWD sedan look like the interceptor concept.

wouldn't it be possible to paint the grill of your truck?
 

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2011? The Crown Vic is already gone. The Grand Marquis is the only one offered, and the Lincoln Town Car is more expensive. I think they should just keep redesigning the current Crown Vic/Grand Marquis/Town Car platform. What's wrong with it? They just need to give it a fresh body, new interior, and more up to date "stuff", but why do they think they need to do like GM and get an Austrailian built vehicle? does anyone want to develop their OWN platform anymore? Does every rear wheel drive sedan need to be based off a sport platform? Does the public need that, or does it need solid cars like the Crown Vic, and keep offering them. Ford has been above GM in this department, since the Caprice, and Impala were gone. I really don't see why they aren't selling better. The Chrysler 300 and Dodge Magnum, Charger have done well, but who's to say Ford can't do as well with a fresh design, still based on the Crown Vic? I'm confused here.
 

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This is great news!!!! The Best part is the Ford will be producing it here in the good ol' U.S. of A.!
 

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There goes the Falcon then.
If the platform is designed in the US.

It will probably have a live axle and wont be able to go round a corner.

lol
 
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