"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.