Friday, June 09, 2006

Is Ford lagging behind in RWD revival?

A recent post in a Ford enthusiast blog (myforddreams.blogspot.com) made a point about the revival of RWD and the lack of enthusiasm (read investment) from Ford. While GM just got a nice new state-of-the-art RWD platform in the shape of the new Holden Commodore (and will use it in several vehicles from its brands including the next Camaro), Ford seems to be lacking in development efforts for new RWD vehicles. Of course, there is the Mustang, but we are not talking about a muscle-car brute. We are talking about a sophisticated state-of-the-art platform that can be used for saloons/coupes/estates/etc. for any Ford brand in the world.

Let’s make one thing straight: the reason why RWD has not been used a lot in the last 15 years is not because it was unsafe. It wasn’t used a lot because such things are expensive. More expensive to manufacture and much more expensive to develop than FWD vehicles. The revival of this superior architecture is more related to lower development costs from acquired experience and platform sharing than the arrival of ESP systems, although this sure helped. Another thing: consumers are more informed and manufacturers can not expect to compete against Mercedes, BMW, Lexus and Infiniti with inferior architecture. Consumers know this and have punished wannabes over the years. RWD is the technically superior architecture and the choice to have in the luxury segment.

So back to Ford. Is Australian Ford division developing some new platform for the Falcon? Remember, if GM now has he Zeta ready it is due to the efforts of their Australian division Holden. Ford needs to have a world class RWD platform. Future Jaguar cars MUST use RWD. Future Lincoln vehicles MUST use RWD. If Ford has troubles getting it right just ask Mazda engineers. They can do it right and quick!
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The new Holden Commodore and its internals means good news for future GM vehicles and troubles for Ford

2 comments:

Alan said...

Audi, a premium carmaker, still uses FWD for most of their range except their Quattro cars. The Focus and Mondeo are one of the best, if not the best handling FWD cars in their respective classes. Testament to the fact that Ford does FWD well. Mazda has great RWD but NOT for their mainstream Mazda3s or 6s. Ford probably needs to develop RWD for its luxury brands like Jaguar but otherwise FWD Fords are still superb handling cars.

jwfisher said...

David: don't forget that Ford just threw out a perfectly good RWD platform for North America - the "DEW98" platform under the Lincoln LS. This platform is identical to the current Jag S-Type, although the engines and transmissions were not as refined.
Keep up the good work on your site!
-Jeff
http://www.jwfisher.com
(Automotive enthusiuast website, blogs, and RSS feeds)