Update: ‘Gas-powered Explorer reportedly to stay on until 2035’ section added.
Ford plans to release several electric SUVs in the near-to-mid-term future. In addition to the Ford MEB SUV that would rival the VW ID.4 for Europe, models will include a Ford Explorer Electric and a Lincoln Aviator Electric, targeting the United States. The company confirmed the North American-focused midsize electric SUVs at the Delivering Ford+ (Ford Capital Markets Day 2021) event on May 26, 2021. New information on the models has emerged since then.
Electric Ford Explorer to ride on the new BEV architecture
At the Ford Capital Markets Day 2021, Hau Thai-Tang, Chief Product Platform and Operations Officer, Ford, announced a new dedicated EV platform to underpin a Ford Explorer Electric and a Lincoln Aviator Electric. Offering a preview of the platform with visuals, he said:
Today, we’re pleased to preview our rear-wheel drive/all-wheel drive BEV flexible architecture. It will deliver a whole new generation of high-volume vehicles, with even better returns because it supports higher production scale. Our architecture approach still allows us to share parts across vehicles, right down to the same pouch we use on F-150 Lightning and E-Transit. Rest assured, while some of the core technologies is shared, the vehicles themselves and the experiences they create for Ford and Lincoln customers will be very different.Hau Thai-Tang, Chief Product Platform and Operations Officer, Ford (Delivering Ford+/Capital Markets Day 2021)
He revealed that the Ford Explorer and Lincoln Aviator would be among the fully electrified models on the new platform.
Our new rear-wheel drive/all-wheel drive BEV flexible architecture will underpin a range of emotive vehicles slated for production between now and 2030, including active lifestyle vehicles with great driving dynamics, cargo vehicles for those whole value space and versatility for their commercial needs, pickups delivering legendary Built Ford Tough capability on mid-size trucks, rugged SUVs for our adventure-seeking customers, and high-margin, high-demand larger two- and three-row SUVs for families around the world, like Explorer, and Lincoln Aviator.Hau Thai-Tang, Chief Product Platform and Operations Officer, Ford (Delivering Ford+/Capital Markets Day 2021)
On July 21, 2022, Ford announced that it plans to use CATL’s lithium iron phosphate batteries with cell-to-pack technology in the F-150 Lightning and Mustang Mach-E in North America. The company may use LFP batteries in select configurations of the Explorer EV as well, to bring the price down. The iron-based batteries are cheaper, safer, and longer-lasting than lithium nickel manganese cobalt oxide batteries. However, they aren’t equally capable when it comes to range and weight, which could be an issue in bigger and three-row models like the Explorer EV.
Ford Explorer EV reconfirmed
Following the announcement of the Ford Explorer Electric, Mike Levine, Ford North America Product Communications Manager, reaffirmed the plan on Twitter. “Yes, we will fully electrify Explorer as you might expect, given our plan to deliver 40% of our line-up as fully electric vehicles by 2030,” Levine said.
In the U.S. alone, Ford expects one-third of the full-size pickup segment to go fully electric by 2030, representing more than 800,000 vehicles annually. The Blue Oval says it will capture 70% of the all-electric full-size bus and van industry by 2030, which would be more than 300,000 vehicles annually. “I’m pleased to announce that we’ll also deliver a scalable dedicated BEV architecture optimized for our next-gen full-size pickup trucks and utilities,” Thai-Tang added.
Ford would give special attention to the exterior design of the Explorer EV to make it more aerodynamically efficient than the gas-powered Explorer. Aerodynamics directly have a bearing on energy consumption, and a large SUV would need all the help it can to make up for its weight and dimensions.
On April 26, 2022, Ford President and CEO Jim Farley told Laycee Schmidtke of YouTube channel Miss GoElectric that the company will make a different type of F-Series electric pickup at the upcoming Blue Oval City facility in Tennessee. He said this model would boast active and deployable aero. A Ford spokesperson later told Motor1 that Farley was talking about “a next-gen electric truck, different from the F-150 Lightning.” The company should use some of this electric truck’s aero features on the Explorer Electric and larger Lincoln electric SUVs as well.
An example of active aero is the front grille which could remain closed when the vehicle is parked or when there’s a need to lessen drag during driving. They can open up when the battery pack, electric motors, and front brakes need cooling.
Ford Intelligent Backup Power
At the time when Ford plans to launch the Explorer EV, bi-directional charging would be a common feature among EVs. Ford offers this feature on the F-150 Lightning with Intelligent Backup Power, allowing customers to power their homes using energy stored in their EV’s battery pack for up to 10 days. Customers can offload 9.6 kW of power in the F-150 Lightning’s case, but the number for the Explorer EV could be different. Sunrun is Ford’s preferred installation partner for Intelligent Backup Power.
Another bidirectional power transfer capability should be vehicle-to-vehicle charging, allowing Explorer EV customers to help other EV users during an outage or charging depletion in a remote location. There’s also the benefit of using power tools, electronics, and appliances anywhere, say during a camping trip or at a remote worksite, drawing power from the Explorer EV’s battery.
The Explorer EV will likely feature a raft of connected, intelligent features that Ford can improve later via Ford Power-Up software updates delivered over the air. The majority of updates may take just a few minutes for completion.
Ford may offer a mega power frunk, a dedicated storage space in the front where ICE models typically have their engine, in the Explorer EV. Customers can use this space to stow additional luggage, chiller box, and golf clubs and power their work, entertainment, or other equipment through multiple built-in electrical outlets.
According to a report Automotive News published on August 28, 2022, Ford has shown a teaser of the Explorer Electric to dealers, who say based on early video renderings that the future model has a large touchscreen infotainment system similar to the 15.5-inch portrait unit of the Mustang Mach-E and F-150 Lightning. This infotainment system, presumably the SYNC 4A unit, should offer wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, Amazon Alexa voice assistant, and Ford Power-Up OTA software updates.
According to the previously cited Automotive News report, Ford plans to make the Explorer Electric in Oakville (Ontario), Canada, starting in late 2024. The company will convert the Oakville Assembly Plant into an EV facility after it ends the production of the Edge (in 2023) and Lincoln’s Nautilus, as per the report.
In fall 2020, Ford confirmed a USD 1.8 billion investment and five EVs for the Oakville Assembly Plant by 2027. It plans to build only the two pure electric mid-size SUVs here, the Ford Explorer EV and the Lincoln Aviator EV, as per an Automotive News Canada report published on November 1, 2022. The Blue Oval will likely produce a yearly total of 230,000 units of the EVs combined, Sam Fiorani, VP – global vehicle forecasting, AutoForecast Solutions, said. The company may also manufacture battery packs at this facility.
Ford Explorer Electric release date & price
The Ford Explorer Electric will go on sale in early 2025, as per the Automotive News report. Prices should start at around USD 50,000, which, along with the Canadian production, would make it eligible for Clean Vehicle Credit.
“Launching our BEVs with our most iconic brands allows us to take their strengths and desirability to a whole new level,” said Lisa Drake, vice president, EV Industrialization, Ford Model e, at the 2021 Capital Markets Day event. “We can grow our brand by electrifying our icons,” she added, backed by the fact that approximately 70% of Mustang Mach-E orders have come from new customers who switched to Ford from other brands.
While all Ford models would eventually become electric vehicles, brand “icons” get precedence over the others. Nameplates with long records of healthy sales and profitability, such as Mustang, Transit, F-150, Ranger, and Explorer, are electrified first on the road to zero-emission.
Ford’s Electric Vehicle targets
Ford plans to produce more than 2 million electric vehicles by 2026, the company said on March 2, 2022. The same announcement detailed the separation of its three businesses: Ford e, Ford Blue, and Ford Pro. The company expects the two million+ units to account for approximately a third of its global production.
On August 5, 2021, U.S. President Joe Biden announced that he’s signing an executive order to convert 50% of all passenger vehicle sales in America to electric by 2030. Supporting the Biden administration’s new goal, Ford announced the same day that it aims for EVs to account for 40-50% of its annual sales in the U.S. by 2030.
In the announcement on March 2, 2022, Ford said it aims to convert 50% of its annual global production to EVs by 2030. The Blue Oval’s ultimate goal is to become a carbon-neutral company by 2025. All its manufacturing operations will attain carbon neutrality by 2035.
Gas-powered Explorer reportedly to stay on until 2035
While the Explorer Electric is an exciting new opportunity for Dearborn, the company doesn’t plan to retire the gas-powered version until the middle of the next decade, Ford Authority reported on December 29, 2022, citing a product roadmap study first published by AutoForecast Solutions. The latter has reported that the combustion version of the Ford Explorer will retain its CD6 architecture while also being produced at the brand’s 113-acre facility in Chicago up until December 22nd, 2035, the Ford Authority report concluded.
To keep the gas-powered Explorer relevant for that long within the highly-competitive mid-size SUV segment, Ford will need to implement comprehensive exterior, interior & feature updates.
With 8+ million sales under its belt, the Ford Explorer is among the best-selling SUVs of all time. Naturally, the Ford management is fast-tracking the EV program as the Koreans look to grab an early lead in the three-row electric SUV segment with the Ioniq 7, EV9, and GV90 SUVs. Besides its utility, connectivity and travel range, the Explorer Electric should be affordably priced, widely available, and built to last for hundreds of thousands of miles. If these basic expectations are met, the Explorer Electric is sure to motivate even the most diehard SUV fans to switch to electric models!
Ford Explorer Electric FAQs
What is the Ford Explorer EV release date?
The Ford Explorer Electric is expected to go on sale in early 2025.
What will be the Ford Explorer EV price?
The Explorer EV could start at around USD 50,000.
Which models will be Ford Explorer EV rivals?
The Electric Ford Explorer will rival the likes of the Kia EV9, Hyundai Ioniq 7, and the upcoming VW ID.8.
Featured image: Ford Explorer EV rendering by TopElectricSUV. This is only an illustration based on the design of the current-gen model. The actual design will differ.