The 2011 Ford Explorer is scheduled to begin production at the retooled Chicago Assembly Plant soon and, in order to fill line needs, 1200 additional plant workers will be hired to build the redesigned crossover SUV. Illinois Governor Pat Quinn and Ford executives will officially announce the Explorer’s production today on location at 10 a.m. EST. The Torrence Avenue plant currently employs about 1400 people and is home to the Ford Taurus and Lincoln MKS.

After two decades of service as a body-on-frame, midsize SUV, the 2011 Explorer will migrate to the unibody D4 platform shared with the Ford Flex and Lincoln MKT. The D4 platform is derived from the D3 underpinnings utilized by the Taurus and MKS. Production of the fifth-generation Explorer is slated to begin in Q4 2010.

Click through to see spy shots of a 2011 Ford Explorer test mule!

Source: Automotive News (Subscription required)