• Jul 18th 2007 at 12:29PM
  • 14

High fuel prices have taken another casualty. This time it's the Australian built Ford inline six-cylinder engine, which will be phased out in 2010 to make way for the Blue Oval's new Duratec V6. Up to 600 employees at the Geelong plant in Melbourne, which builds the old six-cylinder, will be losing their jobs, but some staff are expected to be redeployed elsewhere.

Ford cites its new product manufacturing strategy of accessing global economies of scale as the main factor for dropping the engine, but falling demand for Australia's traditional large sedans because of rising fuel prices and impending changes to local emissions standards would also have had a major impact on the decision.

The Aussie division is still on track to complete a new R&D center as part of Ford's $1.8 billion Australian investment program, and significant investment programs in new emissions laboratories and wind tunnel technology will continue.

The new Duratec engine will be sourced from high volume U.S. engine facilities and there's even talk of the addition of new diesel units for the locally built Falcon and Territory models.

[Source: Ford]


Ford Announces New Engine Direction

Ford Australia today announced a key step in a new product manufacturing strategy that will allow the company to achieve production efficiencies and access global economies of scale.

From 2010 Ford Australia will import a global new Duratec V6 engine, including high performance derivatives, for use in the company's locally made Falcon, Falcon Ute and Territory model lines. The improved economies of scale resulting from the globally-sourced engine will offer increased flexibility to potentially incorporate future alternative fuel strategies, particularly diesel technology.

As a result, the company will discontinue its Australian I6 engine operations in Geelong in 2010. Redeployment opportunities will be maximised wherever possible and the company will work closely with its employees and unions to minimise the impact on the 600 people affected by the decision across engine operations. The company's remaining 1400 employees in Geelong and 3000 in Campbellfield will not be directly impacted by the decision.

Construction of the company's new Research & Development Centre, announced in 2006 as part of Ford's $1.8 billion Australian investment program, will continue and is due for completion later this year. Significant investment programs in new emissions laboratories and wind tunnel technology at Ford's test facilities at Lara will also continue, along with usual operations at the company's stamping plant and Ford Discovery Centre.

The decision to introduce the new engine and discontinue engine operations at Geelong follows industry-wide changes in consumer behaviour, including lower demand for large cars and the corresponding increase in popularity of smaller, imported vehicles. These changes have seen sales of locally produced vehicles as a percentage of the total industry in Australia fall from 36.1 per cent in 1998 to 19.4 per cent year-to-date in 2007 (Source: VFACTS).

"The Australian car market has fundamentally and permanently changed," said Ford Australia President Mr Tom Gorman.

"Our new engine strategy is a direct response to the lower manufacturing levels of locally produced large vehicles. Although we remain committed to our current local vehicle lines – Falcon, Falcon Ute and Territory, it is imperative that we improve our ability to respond to the increasing consumer desire for alternative fuels, improved performance, and better fuel economy while spreading the investment required across a broader base of vehicles. Importing the new engine from 2010 will allow us to achieve these goals."

The new engine will be sourced from high volume US engine facilities that are anticipated to produce approximately one million engines per year by 2011. In contrast, Ford Australia's engine operation currently produces 70,000 engines each year.

The next stage in Ford Australia's new manufacturing strategy is to improve the capacity utilisation at its Campbellfield manufacturing plant.

"We are currently investigating a number of alternatives that will allow us to return our Campbellfield manufacturing facility to 100 per cent capacity," said Mr Gorman.

"We look forward to working with our employees to ensure we can deliver on the next step in our process to continue building our business here in Australia."

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 8 Years Ago
      Hey theres nothing wrong an inline 6, Jeep used them in like 5 models since the late 80s. It just depends on what you're trying to get out of your engine, slightly more torque and size consideration or a smooth balance? It's personal preference and this move isn't killing off the inline, it's Ford trying to modularize engine design and cut costs.
      • 8 Years Ago
      The I6 is essentially the best piston engine configuration possible. It is one of the few designs that has no natural imbalances. Engines like a V12 or I12 are better as they have more power pulses per revolution and are therefore slightly smoother, but they're just two I6s in one.

      All things equal the V6 will be rougher running. A balance shaft can make a V6 smooth like an i6, but that adds cost, weight, and hurts fuel economy and performance. The other problems with a v6 are more cost for duplicating the cam shafts and all the VVT stuff. And of course more friction from the extra gears, so more power loss. When you go to a shop get an old v6 fixed they have two heads to work on, so the maintenance costs are higher due to the increased complexity.

      I can't think of a single technical advantage to a v6 over an i6.

      Of course the v6 is lower, shorter, and easier to fit under your hood (even though the actual volume of the same displacement engine is higher), making it more suited for putting in cars instead of in a generator or boat so only a few companies still use it.

      v6 is not the only future, thanks to the i6's simpler design, lower initial cost, lower maintenance costs, higher efficiency, and smoother running there will always be an i6 around somewhere.
      • 8 Years Ago
      This doesnt surprise me. After doing a few conversions, we here in Australia pay about US$4.20 per US Gallon. It's a bit rediculous.
      • 8 Years Ago
      I'll take an inline 6 over a V6 anyday.
        • 8 Years Ago
        Especially when you'd save weight with the cast-iron block of the I-6 as compared to the more compact and all-aluminum construction of the V-6. Plus the cyclone engine was named one of ward's 10 best engines in 2007. I doubt that the I-6 can boast that.
        • 8 Years Ago
        I don't care about weight. I prefer the feel of driving a car with an inline 6 over a V6.

        You don't think an inline 6 can win awards?
      • 8 Years Ago

      "The Duratec 35 (code-name Cyclone) is a new 3.5 L V6 that appeared in fall 2006. It is an all-aluminum engine based on the Duratec 30, and adds variable cam timing on the intake side, a feature already found on the Jaguar AJ30 and Mazda AJ versions of the 3.0.
      The Duratec 35 was on the Ward's 10 Best Engines list for 2007.
      The new heads relocate all accessory drives to the front of the engine with a flush chain drive, saving space. The new combustion chambers are reshaped as well. A dual-stage variable length intake manifold, centrally-located sparkplugs, and a 10.3:1 compression ratio are other features. The Duratec 35 is ULEV-II compliant and is said to be capable of meeting the PZEV requirement as well. The dual-stage intake manifold was part of the Duratec 30.
      Engine output will eventually exceed 300 hp (224 kW), but will be 265 hp (198 kW) and 250 ft·lbf (339 N·m) at launch, a substantial upgrade in power from the Duratec 30.
      The engine is the same exterior size as the Duratec 30, and should be usable in all vehicles currently using that engine and its derivatives. The company expects the engine to be used in one fifth of all Ford products by the end of the decade.
      The Duratec 35 will replace the Duratec 30 in some applications (notably the Ford Taurus) by the end of that year, but the Duratec 30 will continue in production.
      The Duratec 35 is unique in that it will deliver its 265 hp (198 kW) rating on regular (87 octane) gasoline, giving it an advantage when compared against its Japanese competitors of similar displacement and power levels. There is a 3.7L version with 275hp/270tq, slated to go in a fwd passenger car around 2008-2009.
      The Duratec 35 is expected to replace the Barra I6 engine in the Australian Ford Falcon and Ford Territory models, following the announcement that Ford Australia will close it's Geelong engine plant in 2010"
      • 8 Years Ago
      This is sad.

      I have driven cars with both engines. I own a Falcon with an I6 and RWD. It is awesome - the low down torque is massive compared to the V6. Yes, it is getting out of date - so update it! And turbo charged it is a massive beast...

      I will be sad when we loose this impressive engine - and I know my wife will be as well, as it is her daily driver and she loves it's all round usability.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Gotta disagree on the inline being superior to the "V". The GM 4.2L I-6 was a decent motor but rough around the edges. The new 3.5L V-6 Ford is buttery smooth.

      • 8 Years Ago
      Good move by Ford. While the inline 4.0l 6 has done a good job for the past 20 years it is not keeping up with the latest offerings from Ford. There simply aren't enough R&D dollars in the small Australian market to justify developing another 6 cyl engine that can compete with imports. The new engine will also make the Falcon lighter as the current engine's cast iron block does nothing to keep the car's curb weight down.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Euro emmissions had nothing to do with it, but fuel prices and sinking more money into R&D when there is a global pool to dip into certainly didnt help. Ford Oz are also concentrating on adding a larger passenger diesel and ethanol variants, and that just aint going to happen with the old inline six.
      • 8 Years Ago
      The I6 is dead, nissan stopped making them in 2002 and toyota in 2005. Every body knows V6 is the future.
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