According to Bloomberg, the Ford Explorer can thank Alan Mulally for its stay of execution. When the former Boeing executive took the helm at FoMoCo, the powers that be urged him to make a decision on the then-ancient SUV. Mulally said that the nameplate could live on, but only if the company's engineers could find a way to seriously cut weight and increase fuel economy at the same time. The new vehicle was not only able to meet those demands, but was able to offer a larger package with much of the same off-road ability as well.
That meant sacrificing the body-on-frame blue print for a unibody design and exploring alternative engine solutions – engines like the upcoming Ecoboost four-cylinder. In the end, the Blue Oval boys were able to shed 100 pounds off the platform.
Ford has since interpreted that same quest for svelteness into a company-wide strategy, and Bloomberg says that the Dearborn automaker is now on par with automakers like BMW when it comes down to aggressively stripping weight from a vehicle. You can read the full story on how Mulally's obsession with reducing weight changed Ford for the better here. Thanks for the tip, Andrew!