21 Mar 23

“Explorer will be a conquest model in Fleet”, says Ford Fleet Director Bart van Rossen

Ford has released pictures and the first info on its new Explorer, a medium-sized battery-powered crossover aiming at the heart of the European Fleet market for EVs. “As companies feel budget pressure from price hikes, we expect it to be a conquest model”, comments Ford Fleet & Remarketing Director Belgium Bart van Rossen.

Details on battery size and range are yet to be confirmed, but indirectly more than one specification is already known about the new Ford Explorer. Technically, the compact SUV rides on Volkswagen’s MEB matrix, a result of the technical and cost-saving partnership between the two brands.

This means that, with a probability bordering on certainty, the Explorer will leave a choice of two battery packs (its competitor sibling VW ID.4 features 52 and 77kWh), both rear- and all-wheel drive (confirmed), while the range is expected to be on a par with Volkswagen’s homologation of 510 kilometers according to WLTP for the ID.4. The Explorer will be assembled in Ford’s EV Centre in Cologne. It is the first EV from the carmaker built in Europe for Europe. “That’s at least one of its important qualities,” comments van Rossen.

Doubling share of Mustang

As for fleet share, the Explorer will gradually eclipse the similarly dimensioned Kuga as electrification in Europe’s corporate policies rises. And what about any market cannibalisation on behalf of the Mustang Mach-E?

“We don’t expect that to happen”, says van Rossen. “The Mustang Mach-E is a real premium product, representing one-tenth of our fleet share. The new Explorer sits in the segment beneath and will easily double that share in Europe, attaining 25-30%. Maybe more as corporate electrification clearly is accelerating.”

But there is something premium about the newest BEV from Ford as well. “Not in the least the quality of the inside materials”, says van Rossen, “We also see that companies are pressed to review their budgets. And, as a conquest model, we expect the Explorer to lure in employees from premium positioned models from Mercedes and BMW.”

No delay in lead time expected

The budgetary threshold will definitely be lower than with the named German SUVs, though prices for the Explorer haven’t been fixed yet. “First deliveries are scheduled for the end of the year”, adds van Rossen. If supply chain shortages or a rebounding chip bottleneck doesn’t mess with the planning.

“Yes, it’s murky to make predictions nowadays. But I’m hopeful. Ford put everything in place to secure the output and avoid production hiccups that could affect those lead times. So at the start, it will be between five and six months.” Still, it could be challenging as Ford is building an electric car at scale for the first time in its German factory.

Ford promises a downtime of 25 minutes for fast charging from 10-80%. The interior features a portrait mode 15-inch central screen, moveable to hide away a stowage compartment for valuable objects. With Lane Change Assist (automated overtaking) and Clear Exit Assist (door jamming in case of approaching cyclists or pedestrians when parked), the Explorer exhibits two ADAS systems seen for the first time on a Ford in Europe. As the new model is less niche than the Mustang Mach-E, Van Rossen expects solid residual values.

Image Source: Ford

Authored by: Piet Andries