Bloomberg published an article back on December 18th that has gone unnoticed until today. A few of our colleagues have picked up the story so far, so we can't tell you who was the first to notice it, but the report was published the week after Ford hosted invited media at Cobo Arena for its Showroom of the Future event. Ford put on the same event for current employees and retirees earlier that month, at which it revealed details of the next Ford Explorer, which will transition from a truck-based platform to a car-based unibody platform with its next iteration. Rumored to be built on Ford's D3 platform that underpins the Five-Hundred sedan and various Volvos, the next Explorer will be giving up its ability to tackle the rough-and-tumble and tow-your-boat in favor of a lower center of gravity, increased fuel economy and more car-like handling.
Considering the continuining shrinkage occuring in the traditional SUV market, we have to agree with Ford's decision to keep the Explorer name and apply it to a package that has more mass appeal. However, adding yet another crossover vehicle to Ford's already crowded lineup that includes vehicles like the Edge, Freestyle and upcoming production version of the Fairlane Concept, will likely create some cannibalism of sales within the brand. Perhaps by that time the lineup will lose a nameplate or two (bye, bye Freestyle!). And Ford will still continue to sell and develop the Expedition as its proper SUV, capable of going off-road within reason and towing boats all the livelong day.
Thanks for the tip, Charles!
[Source: Bloomberg via Winding Road]