Robert Farago
by Robert Farago
ford rwd rip

Of course, that’s a bit blunt for corporate types. Ford design chief J Mays gives us the Ford-approved terminology for the automaker’s decision to forgo rear wheel-drive (RWD) for its passenger vehicles: “It’s out of the cycle plan,” J tells Automotive News [AN, sub]. “We’ve got other priorities at the moment. We’re going down a path right now that is all about fuel efficiency, and we’ve got a lot to do about that. So we’re not talking about rear-wheel drive.” AN provides the potted history of the layout’s extinction. “A year ago, Ford CEO Alan Mulally and product chief Derrick Kuzak confirmed that the new Ford and Lincoln rwd sedans would be coming. By midyear, Kuzak said Ford was rethinking the program but hadn’t discontinued it. Analysts had expected U.S. sales of the rwd cars to begin with the 2013 model year. The platform was to be shared with a large car developed for Australia.” And now, nothing. TTAC’s Best and Brightest will debate the wisdom of abandoning RWD. Suffice it to say, Lincoln. Oh, and the Hyundai Genesis.

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  • Psarhjinian Psarhjinian on Jan 12, 2009
    It doesn’t make sense. They already produce front-engine, rear-drive V8 drivetrains for the F 150 (and Mustang), so sharing with a full size sedan is practically cost free. The drivetrain is not the problem; the platform is. I don't know what world you live in that platform engineering is cost-free. The Mustang platform would require significant changes to "work" as a mid- or full-size sedan. It would need to be stretched in every concievable dimension. Ford would also need to reconcile the the wasted-space issue that plagues rear-drive cars versus their front-drive competition. The F-150 is so far removed from a passenger vehicle that it's not feasible. You cannot take a platform designed to pull eleven thousand pounds and scale it into something that has a decent amount of room, good ride and mileage. Plus, are they really gonna give up on the cop car and taxi market? Not in this economy. The cop market would probably continue buying Panthers. I realize I come across as hard on the old girl, but it does fill this very specialized niche very, very well. If you want something that's cheap to repair after you've hopped the kerb [s]at the donut shop[/s] pulling up to a crime scene six times a day, you cannot beat a platform as crude as the Panther. It's like the space-shuttle: quarter-century-old technology, utterly useless outside of it's niche, but the best choice given it's purpose. As for taxis: they're planning the Transit for that, which is a much roomier, more fuel-efficient and more comfortable vehicle.

  • on Jan 12, 2009

    It may be a smart move on the part of management; I don't know. I am sorry to hear it though. There is something about RWD that appeals. A good AWD car like the Subaru Legacy may be as good as RWD, but most FWD/AWD cars are not balanced right and don't have the same steering feel and driving dynamics as a good RWD car. And I like the idea of RWD, dividing the chores between the front wheels and the rear wheels, so the rear wheels don't just come along for the ride.

  • PK_Kool PK_Kool on Jan 14, 2009

    A) The Falcon was never designed for Left Hand Drive. I'll let you do the math on this one... B)How is a big RWD vehicle going to help Ford hit CAFE at 35mpg (assuming it doesn't go up even more after that)? It's not. Everyone jumps up and down about Holden and Ford of Australia, but both of them are getting their asses kicked by Toyota for similar reasons as the US. Toyota AU is destroying them.

  • PeteMoran PeteMoran on Jan 14, 2009

    @ Hwanung The Falcon was never designed for Left Hand Drive. The engineering was not done in parallel at the time true. Until very recently there was an intention to left-hook the Falcon for export and the engineering was done after release, but shelved.