Ford may go to the US for a replacement car for taxi operators who currently use the Australian Fairlane and LTD long-wheelbase sedans.
Website autotrader.co.nz reported on Monday that the replacement for the Fairlane executive taxi may be the Lincoln MkZ.
Australian sources have suggested that a right-hand drive version of the luxury Lincoln may be brought in to fill the gap left by the Fairlane/LTD when production stops early next year.
Ford has said there will be no long-wheelbase version of the new Falcon which is due to debut around April 2008. It says there are insufficient right-hand drive markets to justify developing a long-wheelbase car.
Taxi drivers spoken to by autotrader.co.nz said they understood Ford would offer an RHD Lincoln as an executive taxi.
They said they understand a Lincoln will be offered “for sure”.
The Fairlane’s departure would leave a major gap in the executive taxi market that Holden would only be too happy to fill with its Statesman/Caprice LWB sedans.
However, major executive taxi player, Corporate Cabs, is a heavy user of the Aussie Fords and is said to have the world’s largest Fairlane/LTD fleet.
Autotrader.co.nz says the replacement could use the Fairlane badge, Ford Australia having hinted that the name is far from dead.
The Lincoln MkZ is shorter and rides on a shorter wheelbase than the Fairlane.
The American car’s overall length is 4835mm to the Fairlane’s 5153mm; wheelbase is 2728mm to the Aussie car’s 2919mm. The Fairlane is 1862mm wide; the Lincoln is 1833. Inside, rear headroom is 960mm in the Lincoln, 1001mm in the Fairlane; MkZ rear legroom is 940mm to the Fairlane’s 1074mm.
Unlike the Australian cars, the Lincoln is front-wheel drive, and is powered by a 3.5-litre V6 rather than the 4.0-litre inline six (or V8) in the Aussie luxury cars.
The Lincoln’s V6 pumps out 196kW; the Fairlane’s inline six develops 190kW.
Pricing? Ford’s list price for the 4.0-litre Fairlane six starts at a shade under $72,000; the 5.4-litre V8 LTD pricing begins around $88,500.
The MkZ sells in America for just under $US30,000, so it’s in the price ballgame.
The other possible Lincoln is the larger Town Car which is V8-powered only, although it’s a relatively low-power V8, at 178kW.
The standard wheelbase is 2989mm; the LWB is 3142mm.
Headroom is 949mm, rear seat legroom 990mm (standard) or 1143mm (LWB).
Pricing might rule out the Town Car. Dealer prices we found showed a range between $US42,000 and 50,000 depending on model.
Ford New Zealand public affairs manager, Clare Ponton, said on Tuesday there were “no current plans that I am aware of” to bring in RHD Lincolns to replace the Fairlane taxi.
“[But] obviously, we’re working with our corporate [customers] to see how we can best meet their needs.”
So, not an outright denial.
The question is will the smaller Lincoln MkZ fit the bill as a Fairlane/LTD successor?