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Ford Throws Party To Unveil New Explorer

Employees gather outside company’s World Headquarters to celebrate critical product launch.

by on Jul.26, 2010

The 2011 Ford Explorer makes its debut in Dearborn.

With thousands of employees, dealers and suppliers watching, Ford took the wraps off its 2011 Explorer at a big party outside the company’s World Headquarters in Dearborn.

Derrick Kuzak, Ford’s global product development director, gave a brief rundown on the new sport utility vehicle’s attributes, saying that they all needed to be salespeople for redesigned SUV. (Click here for full details on the new, 2011 Ford Explorer.)

With local band Fifty Amp Fuse playing covers of well-known songs, the Explorer rolled over a 25-foot-tall “mountain” of dirt on the west lawn of Ford’s iconic Glass House as the Ford faithful waved the white T-shirts they were given.

Nearby, in a tent for dealers, Bill Demmer, president of Jack Demmer Ford in Wayne and Jack Demmer Lincoln-Mercury in Dearborn, said the new Explorer will help rejuvenate a fallen Ford model.

“It kind of faded away quietly,” Demmer said of the current SUV. “It’s exciting with the technology they’re building into the (new) car.”

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“You can tell that Ford Motor Company is driven,” he said. “We’re finally on the right page.”

Demmer said the new Explorer gives another choice to buyers who find the styling of the Flex crossover too polarizing.

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First Look: 2011 Ford Explorer

Can once-dominant SUV regain lead in today’s crowded market?

by on Jul.26, 2010

A new day for Ford's once best-selling Explorer?

You normally don’t expect to see Ford CEO Alan Mulally wandering through New York’s crowded Herald Square in the middle of a Monday morning.  But this isn’t your typical weekday, not as far as Ford is concerned.  The automaker’s chief executive is in the Big Apple for the launch of the latest, all-new version of the Ford Explorer.

Once the best-selling sport-utility vehicle in the world, Explorer is today just a shadow of its former self, at least from a sales standpoint, so the unusual preview – which bypasses the normal auto show circuit in a bid to maximize exposure from media-central Manhattan – is a critical step in Ford’s effort to rebuild demand.

“This is the reinvention of the most popular SUV in the world,” Mulally declared during an appearance on CNBC this morning.  At least what was the top-selling SUV.

The original Explorer was one of the first to target the emerging market for light trucks, when it came to market two decades ago.  But today, U.S. buying patterns have shifted once again, and sales of traditional truck-based sport-utility vehicles have fallen sharply, millions of buyers instead opting for lighter, more nimble and fuel-efficient crossover vehicles.

With the 2011 Explorer, Ford becomes the latest maker to shift from a body-on-frame to car-based platform – a strategy used by Mercedes-Benz, among others, with the latest-generation M-Class ute.  But the Detroit maker is walking a marketing tightrope.  At today’s launch and in the marketing blitz to follow, Ford will continue to play up the 2011 Explorer’s go-anywhere capabilities while also emphasizing its more crossover-like attributes – notably its more nimble ride and handling and a projected 30% improvement in fuel economy.

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“It’s a vehicle completely redefined,” says Ford’s global product development director, Derrick Kuzak., with the goal of the redesign and shift to a CUV platform to address “past reasons for turning away” from both the SUV segment and Explorer, in particular.

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