Falcon XR6 Sprint: More Aussie Innovations with Locally Developed, Company-First Carbon Fibre Engine Intake

Mon, Feb 15, 2016

  • Falcon XR6 Sprint will feature a carbon fibre air intake system, a first for a Falcon XR6 turbo
  • The system was developed by Ford engineers in Australia alongside Melbourne-based supplier Premcar who helped design the system and Quickstep Automotive, who will manufacture the part locally
  • This work builds on Ford’s Australian R&D investment of almost $2 billion R&D in the past six years, including $300 million invested in 2015 alone

MELBOURNE –Ford’s unique level of local R&D investment has led to another innovation with the Falcon XR6 Sprint sporting Ford’s first carbon fibre engine air intake system.

The system was developed and engineered by Ford’s Australian engineering team to increase performance feel due to the higher compression six-cylinder engine spooling the turbo up faster. The system is more responsive and significantly stronger than comparable designs.

“The Falcon’s legacy will live on well beyond this year through our designers and engineers that will continue to innovate to make Australian’s lives better,” says Graeme Whickman, president and CEO, Ford of Australia. “The Falcon XR6 Sprint’s new innovative carbon fibre engine air intake is the latest example of how our local engineers and suppliers will reshape the auto industry well into the future.”

Working in conjunction with, Quickstep Automotive in Geelong, Ford developed a lighter, more efficient air intake system for the performance Falcon XR6 Sprint, which goes on sale in the second quarter of 2016. Quickstep Automotive will manufacture the part for Ford and provide material selection through the process.

Ford also called on the high-performance engineering expertise of Premcar and tasked the company to design the intake system to meet the performance requirements of the turbocharged engine.

Ford also signed off on the part design, as well as doing the engineering material and part testing.

Premcar has a track record of working on Ford performance vehicles, including the Falcon GT F sedan.

The innovative intake system on the Falcon XR6 Sprint uses a carbon fibre air duct in lieu of more commonly used plastic.

Carbon fibre, normally the reserve of high-performance European sportscars, was chosen for its functional performance over a normal plastic air intake. The work is another example of Ford’s innovative efforts with local suppliers through on going engineering development. In 2015 Geelong’s Carbon Revolution began developing and manufacturing locally the world’s first mass-produced carbon fibre wheels for the Mustang Shelby GT350R for North America.

“Ford’s engineers, Carbon Revolution and Quickstep Automotive demonstrate there’s a bright future for the auto industry Australia because of our commitment, breadth talent and world-class education system,” said Dave French, director, Vehicle Programs, Asia Pacific Product Development Centre.

More local innovation

The new intake system meets Ford’s exacting Global standards and is a proof point of the high standard of Australian automotive innovation.

Importantly too, Ford’s focus in the Geelong area will continue with the $27 million Geelong Research and Development Centre and the 900 ha Proving Ground at Lara continuing to play a critical role in global Ford vehicle programs. Vehicle Line Director of Falcon and Territory, David Wilkinson, said the decision to use carbon fibre for the XR6 Sprint was twofold.

“Normally this intake duct would be made out of blow molded plastic, which can be quite thick and lack dimensional consistency,” he said. “By bringing Quickstep Automotive on board, we were able to embrace new light-weighting technology as well as provide the best-possible efficiency of the system on our turbocharged XR6 Sprint.”

Wilkinson said that to ensure the inside cross-sectional area of the intake is maximised, the use of carbon fibre enabled Ford to have a much thinner material (increasing inside cross section while being the same outside shape) and is much stiffer so it won't change shape under heat or load.

“Given this part has space restrictions from intake and the air conditioning lines, moving to a thin-wall material enabled us to achieve the maximum amount of air flow given the under bonnet space restrictions we had,” he said.

Using carbon fibre also produced a weight advantage of 46 per cent over the equivalent plastic intake system. The new carbon fibre system weighs just 235 gm, compared to the existing plastic air intake system, which weighs 438 gm.

Quickstep has a strong track record as an innovator. It manufactures advanced composites in Australia for the auto and aerospace industry and develops and licences advanced composite manufacturing technologies for the global market.

Working with Ford, Quickstep Automotive was also able to accelerate the commercialisation of its technology for the automotive industry and support the establishment of its Automotive Division at Deakin University’s Geelong Waurn Ponds campus.

David Marino, CEO and Managing Director of Quickstep said: “Quickstep is very proud of our relationship with the Ford brand and the iconic XR6 Sprint, which represents the best of Australia’s automotive design and engineering capabilities.

“Through this program, Quickstep Automotive has now qualified its materials and processes with a well-respected global vehicle manufacture in Ford and this should lead to other automotive composite opportunities in the future.”

Facts of Carbon Fibre Duct

  • Material is sourced from the UK
  • Material is not gel coated, is “raw finished”
  • Material has four layers and is hand laid
  • Process is “Pre-preg” carbon fibre lay-up. This is carbon fibre fabric, pre-infused with resin before the part is manufactured. This is typically used in aircraft and performance vehicle manufacture
  • Designed by Premcar, engineered and tested by Ford, manufactured by Quickstep Automotive
  • Ford is Quickstep Automotive’s first OEM customer
  • Quickstep is a supplier for the Joint strike fighter project and the Australian Defence Forces

  • About Ford Motor Company Ford Motor Company, a global automotive industry leader based in Dearborn, Mich., manufactures or distributes automobiles across six continents. With about 181,000 employees and 65 plants worldwide, the company’s automotive brands include Ford and Lincoln. The company provides financial services through Ford Motor Credit Company. For more information regarding Ford’s products, please visit