“Icon” Ford Explorer Electric (Explorer EV) pushed back to 2024: Report [Update]

Update: ‘Active aero’ sub-section added to ‘Expected Features.’

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, models will include a Ford Explorer Electric and a Lincoln Aviator Electric. 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)

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.

Expected Features

Active aero

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.

Ford F-150 Lightning V2V charging bidirectional charging
Bidirectional charging is a gamechanger for electric vehicles. Expect it to be available in the Ford Explorer electric. Image: Ford

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.

Ford Power-Up

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.

Frunk

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.

SYNC 4A

SYNC 4A should be the core of the Explorer EV’s digital experience. A sleek interface with an XL-size portrait touchscreen may allow integrating a smartphone, using Amazon Alexa services, getting directions, and more.

Ford Explorer Electric release date & production

According to an Automotive News report, Ford planned to manufacture the Explorer EV alongside the Mustang Mach-E at its Cuautitlan plant in Mexico from mid-2023. However, now the company has decided to relocate production to another site, one that is to be finalized. It has also reportedly postponed the start of production of the Explorer EV to December 2024.

Given the massive demand for the Mustang Mach-E globally (pegged at 2X production), Ford intends to make it a model of focus for Cuautitlan to capitalize on its popularity. In an interview on December 10, 2021, Lisa Drake, COO, Ford (North America), said that the company would manufacture only the Mustang Mach-E at the Mexican factory.

To be made in Canada?

Automotive News Canada later reported that Ford is likely to build the Explorer EV at the Oakville Assembly Plant in Canada. Its luxurious, Lincoln-branded cousin (Aviator EV) would roll out of the same factory. The Blue Oval plans to manufacture a yearly total of 100,000 units of the EVs combined. The decision to make them domestically or overseas could also depend on the U.S. government’s decision to offer an additional incentive on EVs made in the U.S. at unionized plants.

Ford currently manufactures the Edge and Nautilus gasoline SUVs in Oakville, but it could discontinue them in a few years. The company has confirmed a USD 1.8 billion investment and five EVs for this production site by 2027. Expect the official reveal of the Ford Explorer EV in the second half of 2024 and Ford dealers to receive the first stock in early-2025.

Electrifying Icons

“Launching our BEVs with our most iconic brands allows us to take their strengths and desirability to a whole new level,” said Lisa Drake 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.

Ford Explorer Electric FAQs

What is the Ford Explorer EV release date?

Following the reveal in 2024, the Ford Explorer Electric could go on sale in early 2025.

What will be the Ford Explorer EV price?

The Ford 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.