Ford to Build New Explorer in Chicago

Explorer-concept

Crain’s Chicago Business is reporting that Ford will build its next-generation Explorer SUV at the Chicago assembly plant where it builds the Lincoln MKS and upcoming Ford Taurus sedans. Previously, Ford also built the now-discontinued Taurus X/Ford Freestyle crossover at the same plant.

This news likely means Ford will indeed build the next Explorer on the same car platform on which the MKS, Taurus and Taurus X are based. The platform has been highly regarded by the press for its stability and versatility. If the Explorer does indeed share this platform, it would likely have better fuel efficiency than the previous Explorer, to help meet new emissions standards going into effect for the 2011 year.

At the 2008 Detroit auto show, Ford unveiled an Explorer concept, seen above, that was praised by the press. The new Explorer would likely be a 2011 model, and production would probably not begin until late 2009 or early 2010.

Given the fact that Explorer production will essentially take the place of Taurus X production at Ford’s Chicago plant — sharing space with multiple car models — this move could mean a reduction in the number of Explorers Ford produces.

The Explorer saw sales drop to 133,562 in 2008 from 228,104 in 2007, but in that same time frame Ford sold just 23,112 (2008) and 42,110 (2007) Taurus X crossovers. Ford has only sold 15,748 Explorers through February of this year. Using that very minimal sales figure, sales for 2009 would total 94,488, but that’s still well above the number of Taurus X crossovers sold.

We’re not taking into account the plant’s production of the discontinued Mercury Sable because the new Lincoln MKS that is built there takes its spot on the assembly line. That all boils down to the conclusion that Ford doesn’t look like it’s expecting to build nearly as many Explorers in the future as it did in the boom time of SUVs.

Ford still has five SUVs and crossovers in its lineup, including the Flex, Edge, Escape, Expedition and Explorer. Ford has only four cars in its lineup: the Focus, Fusion, Taurus and Mustang. A fifth, the Fiesta, is expected to go on sale in 2010.

By David Thomas | March 30, 2009 | Comments (7)
Tags: Explorer, Ford

Comments 

cody

i like that ford is maintaining the name explorer even though they're going unibody. in my opinion, chevy should have done the same thing with the trailblazer name, instead of inventing the traverse name...which i've found a bit silly. the domestics are too quick to abandon names.

Cody,
Totally agree with you> Traverse is not a good name.

George Vicker

I second that...Ford is smart to stick with the Explorer. I've love to see this vehicle come to production. Makes me wonder if Jeep will be smart enough to do the same with the JGC.

George Vicker,
The Jeep Grand Cherokee will debut next week at the New York Auto Show. We'll have more info in it for you here.

ziggy

I like Fords "keep is simple plan" - five crossovers and five cars. This is why they will succeed when GM and Chrysler go bankrupt.

cody

ziggy, i don't know if i'd go patting ford on the back for keeping it simple. they have a brand called mercury which is pretty much a ford trim level and another called lincoln which is...another ford trim level.

at least with gm, the brands look distinctly different...there are just too many of them. crysler just has vehicles that have low-rent interiors and lag behind if fuel economy...

GCV

Is there really a need for a new Explorer? If it is to be a unibody crossover rather than a true SUV, don't they already have the Flex based on the MKS platform and the Edge just below it? I figure that the Flex replaces the Taurus X. The SUV market is pretty much winding down. Market forces and government pressures have rendered the traditional SUV architecture obsolete. So kill the Explorer name - and Escape and Expidition too. Ford should be focusing on an efficient line of cars and crossovers now. Crude bulky cars based on trucks is backward thinking - and the American public's patience for that type of thinking is at an end anyway.

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