More clues about the all-new Ford Explorer can be found in a Ford Press Release issued early last week.
What do we know so far?
- Built on a Ford Taurus chassis
- Three engines: EcoBoost 4 cylinder, 3.7 liter Ti-VCT V-6, and the now-familiar EcoBoost 3.5.
- 25% increase in fuel economy over the current generation 4 liter base model
- Production in 4th quarter 2010
The naturally aspirated V-6 engine has been confirmed in spy photos of the engine in the engine bay – a fact that other web sites seems to continually miss amidst claims of an “all-EcoBoost engine lineup”. Very odd that this continues to be missed.
What can we extrapolate (speculate)?
- The 4 cylinder engine seems to be settling down at about 230-240 HP if web discussion can be believed. That’s a lot better than the 200 initially reported – if true.
- Reasonable outlook: 240 HP base, front wheel drive; 305 with optional V-6, FWD or AWD, and 355 with optional EcoBoost V-6, AWD only. 6-speed automatics across the board.
- This engine lineup would also suggest that a 4 cylinder EcoBoost engine will be the base engine in the Taurus, and that the 3.7 would replace the 3.5 V-6 (gaining fuel economy at the same time).
And the Explorer is clearly going to be large – perhaps a bit too large for this day and age?
And do we really need to be dragging around a third row of seats? Isn’t that what the Flex is for?
Ford Press Release follows:
FORD TO BRING NEXT-GENERATION FORD EXPLORER, 1,200 JOBS TO CHICAGO MANUFACTURING FACILITIES
- Ford will produce the next-generation Explorer SUV at its Chicago Assembly Plant beginning in the fourth quarter of this year, bringing approximately 1,200 new jobs to the Chicago region
- Ford will invest nearly $400 million in its Chicago Assembly and Chicago Stamping plants to launch production of the Explorer
- The next-generation Explorer will feature significant fuel economy gains of at least 25 percent over the current-model Explorer thanks to EcoBoost engine technology, six-speed transmissions and a unibody construction
- Ford has sold more than 6 million Explorers since the vehicle was originally launched in 1990; Explorer has been America’s best-selling midsize SUV for 15 of the past 19 years
CHICAGO, Jan. 26, 2010 – Ford Motor Company today announced it will produce the next-generation Ford Explorer SUV at the company’s Chicago Assembly Plant beginning in the fourth quarter of this year.
Ford is investing nearly $400 million in its Chicago manufacturing facilities to launch production of the new, fuel-efficient Ford Explorer. The company also will add 1,200 new jobs to staff a second production shift at Chicago Assembly Plant and increase production at the nearby Chicago Stamping Plant.
The next-generation Explorer will be built at the Chicago Assembly Plant on a flexible assembly line alongside the new Ford Taurus and Lincoln MKS sedans. Ford’s $400 million investment includes approximately $180 million in manufacturing investment at the Chicago sites and about $220 million for launch and engineering costs. In addition, Ford will be making significant investment in supplier tooling to support next-generation Explorer production.
“The new Explorer will redefine the SUV for the modern era – retaining the capability customers want while delivering superb fuel efficiency, comfort and convenience,” said Mark Fields, Ford’s president of The Americas. “This investment underscores Ford’s commitment to building world-class, fuel-efficient vehicles in America and creating new jobs that will contribute to our nation’s economic recovery.”
The new Explorer will deliver at least 25 percent better fuel economy than the current model. The vehicle will feature unibody construction, Ford’s EcoBoost engine technology, a six-speed transmission and lightweight materials. Ford will provide full details about the new Explorer later this year.
In addition, the next-generation Explorer will debut the auto industry’s first-ever production inflatable seat belts, designed to provide additional protection for rear-seat occupants – often children and older passengers who can be more vulnerable to head, chest and neck injuries. The inflatable rear seat belts spread crash forces over five times more area of the body than conventional seat belts, which helps to reduce pressure on the chest and to control head and neck motion for rear-seat passengers. Ford eventually plans to offer inflatable seat belt technology on other vehicles globally.
“Our Chicago Assembly Plant – with its excellent work force, lean and flexible manufacturing processes, and proud history of making great Ford vehicles – is the ideal choice for building the new Explorer,” said Jim Tetreault, Ford vice president, North America Manufacturing. “The plant successfully has launched two new vehicles in the past two years and our Chicago employees consistently deliver with an eye on quality, efficiency and safety.”
In planning for the company’s future manufacturing presence in the state, Ford worked closely with Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn, who led an effort in passing legislation that allows Ford to participate in Illinois’ Economic Development for a Growing Economy (EDGE) program, which provides tax incentives to businesses that commit to new investments and create or retain jobs in the state. This legislation allows Ford to participate in the EDGE program through payroll tax credits rather than corporate income taxes.
“Governor Quinn immediately understood the importance of helping Ford by proposing and passing legislation that provides us with an alternative way to claim and secure these important tax credits,” Fields said. “We are grateful for his support of Ford and auto manufacturing in Illinois, and want to thank him for his leadership.”
“The production of the new Ford Explorer will create 1,200 new jobs here in Illinois,” said Gov. Quinn. “The Economic Development for a Growing Economy tax credit, which I put the full weight of my administration behind and signed into law in December, has provided much needed relief to our state’s ailing automotive industry and the necessary incentives for one of our nation’s leading car companies to stay in the Land of Lincoln.”
Ford’s investment of $400 million in Chicago-area manufacturing facilities and Explorer’s fuel economy improvement of at least 25 percent is also supported by Ford’s green partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy. Chicago Assembly Plant is one of 11 Ford facilities in the U.S. participating in the Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Incentives Programinitiated by Congress and implemented by the Obama administration. The program is helping to develop advanced technology vehicles and strengthen American manufacturing across the country. Ford, Nissan, Tesla, Fisker and Tenneco are all participants in this initiative.
“Ford has been a major presence in our city since 1924 when it opened this plant to make the Model T,” said Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley. “The company has demonstrated its commitment to Chicago by spending millions of dollars to modernize the facility in recent years, and I want to thank the company for that commitment and for its faith in Chicago and its residents.”
The current Explorer and Explorer Sport Trac models are built at the company’s Louisville Assembly Plant in Kentucky. Shifting production of the next-generation Explorer to Chicago Assembly paves the way for Louisville Assembly to undergo transformation to a flexible, fuel-efficient small car plant from a truck-based SUV plant. Ford will begin producing new vehicles at Louisville Assembly based on its global C-car platform in 2011. The specific models will be named at a later date.
The Chicago Assembly Plant, opened in 1924, currently has approximately 1,200 employees working on one shift. Ford’s Chicago Stamping Plant, which opened in 1956, has approximately 700 employees on two shifts. Opened in 1955, Louisville Assembly Plant has approximately 1,000 employees operating on one shift.
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Ford sent out this press release earlier today. Interesting background for those of you interested in Ford of Europe, or for those of you with relatives and/or history in that part of Britain (as we have).
What strikes us about this press release is the bustle of activity that is Dagenham – and what a shame it would be if that great plant were bankrupt or shut down. Not everything is perfect with Ford (and this plant has been at the center of militant unionism several times), but everybody from Mulally on down must be counting their lucky stars that Ford isn
Short article in the Toledo Blade newspaper on Ford’s 3.5 engine being built in the Lima OH plant. Includes a good image of the engine being built on the line.
This is a significant engine for Ford. Although late by two years (due to problems that were never discussed), it’s now up and running and going into 4 FMC products this fall: The Lincoln MkZ, MKX, and the Ford Edge as well as the Maza CX-9 (exported to Japan to the Mazda assembly line).
Read more here and see extensive images, including the only known image of a future rear-wheel drive version of this engine: http://www.DrivingEnthusiast.net/sec-ford/FMC-engines/6m35d/default.htm .
- St. Louis Assembly–Explorer, Mountaineer (which are also produced in Louisville, KY)
- Atlanta Assembly–Taurus, Sable
- Wixom Assembly–Town Car, LS, GT
- Batavia Transmission–CD4E Transmission (Ford Escape/Mercury Mariner)
- Windsor Casting–Engine blocks, crankshafts
- Two additional assembly plants, TBD
Update: Mark Fields announced that Ford will build a new “low cost” assembly plant to be located in North America. Note that he didn’t say “United States”, which means it could be located in Canada or Mexico.
The announcement that Wixom is closing is a real blow to Michigan. There were hopes that the plant could be saved.
- GREAT PRODUCTS
- Opened in 1987 as Mazda Motor Manufacturing (USA) Corporation (MMUC) in Flat Rock, Michigan
- 1992 MMUC became AutoAlliance International, a 50-50 joint venture between Ford and Mazda
- 1993 produced one millionth vehicle; 1999 produced two millionth vehicle
- The facility sits on 400 acres with 2.7 million square feet of floor space
- AAI has 3,625 employees
- Product history: Mazda6, Mazda626, Mazda MX-6, Ford Cougar, Ford Probe, Ford Mustang
– 2004 Consumer Report Recommended Buy and Excellent Predicted Reliability for Mazda6
– 2003 Car and Driver rates Mazda6 among 10 Best Cars
– 2003 Auto Pacific Best-in-Class Standard Mid-Size Car for Vehicle Satisfaction — 2003 AAI received Wildlife Habitat Certification from Wildlife Habitat Council
– 2003 Southern Wayne County Regional Chamber of Commerce named AAI Corporate Citizen of the Year
– 1995 Harbour and Associates ranked AAI number one in stamping productivity
– 1993 Motor Trend Magazine named Ford Probe GT Car of the Year
– 1994 Car and Driver rates Ford Probe GT among 10 Best Cars
– International Standards Organization (ISO) 14001 Environmental Management Systems (EMS) Certification 2001
– International Standards Organization (ISO) 9000 Quality Systems Certification 2000
Located in Oakville, Ont., near Toronto, Ford’s Oakville Assembly Plant (OAP) was opened in 1953. In 2003, during its 50th year in operation, OAP becomes Ford’s exclusive global source for the new Ford Freestar and Mercury Monterey minivans.Ford’s significant investment to bring Freestar and Monterey to market includes $600 million in tooling, facilities and launch costs at Oakville Assembly Plant, which brings Ford’s total investment in Ontario to $9.5 billion since 1990. Like its Windstar predecessor, Ford Freestar will be exported to some 32 countries around the world.
- OAP employs 3,400 men and women, the majority of whom are hourly employees who work on vehicle assembly.
- OAP sits on 195 hectares (487 acres) and the buildings themselves total 347,000 m2 (3.8 million ft2). OAP houses a body shop, paint facility and an assembly line.
- OAP operates on 2 shifts, each of which runs 8, 9 or 10 hours a day.
- In 2002, OAP produced 211,000 vehicles to add to its historical production of more than nine million vehicles since it opened in 1953.
- The assembly line totals 45 km (28 miles) and includes 440 robots.
- OAP, like all Ford facilities, is certified to the ISO 9001 standard for quality and was the first assembly plant in North America certified to ISO 14001 for environmental efficiency.
- OAP’s first vehicles were the Ford Meteor and Mercury Monarch cars. Since then, it has produced such nameplates as Torino, Falcon, Maverick, Econoline, Escort, Crown Victoria, Tempo, Topaz and, from 1994 to 2003, Ford Windstar.
- Freestar and Monterey are significant contributors to Ford of Canada’s objective of increasing local parts sourcing from a current level of $4.5 billion to $7.0 billion by 2005. The Canadian content in the all-new Freestar/Monterey has increased approximately 70% compared to its predecessor, the Windstar. All 3.9- and 4.2-litre V-6 engines for these vehicles will be sourced from Essex Engine Plant in Windsor, Ontario.
FORD ROUGE FACTORY TOUR TO OFFER VISITORS A UNIQUE AND FUN LOOK AT VEHICLE MANUFACTURING AND ITS HISTORY