As we're all too familiar now with news of slimming workforces and squalid unemployment reports, we can either do our jobs right or not do them at all. As analysts across the nation pour over metrics trying to figure out methods to improve efficiency, the auto industry presents no atypical case. Automakers must remain succinct with their product lines, and Ford is no exception to the rule. With its Explorer family in dire need of a revival, the Blue Oval will be refocusing the line by axing the Explorer Sport Trac pickup and Mercury Mountaineer SUV when the Explorer switches to its new unibody platform next year.
There may have been no more-popular SUV in the 1990s than the Ford Explorer. In its heyday, it took two assembly plants to churn out the midsize SUVs, and in 1999, Ford sold 507,091 Explorers along with 49,281 Mountaineers. Explorer and Mountaineer sales have since significantly dropped off their peak. The Explorer Sport Trac, which was first available as a 2001 model, sold about 60,000 units annually, according to Ford. With new vehicle sales down across the board, the open-bed Explorer is on pace to sell about 10,000 units in 2009.
The 2011 Ford Explorer will be built on Ford's global unibody platform which will also underpin the Flex, Taurus, and Lincoln MKS and MKT. The Explorer's production lines will move from Louisville, Kentucky, to Ford's Torrance Avenue plant in Chicago.