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  • All-new 2011 Ford Explorer Begins Production in Chicago

All-new 2011 Ford Explorer Begins Production in Chicago

Evan McCausland
Dec 2, 2010
Ford may have shown off the all-new 2011 Explorer to the world over the summer, but customers won't be able to bring one home until later this month. The company announced yesterday that the first consumer examples of the new crossover/ SUV rolled off the Chicago, Illinois, assembly line yesterday, and may arrive at dealers next week.
Photo 2/5   |   2011 Ford Explorer Press Conference
Although production officially started yesterday, preparations to build the new Explorer in the windy city have been a long time in the making. In fact, Ford first announced the addition of Explorer assembly duties to the Chicago Assembly Plant at the close of January, and has since been retooling the facility (along with a nearby stamping plant) to accommodate the new crossover/SUV.
The $400 million investment, which reportedly allows Ford to add a second shift at the plant and employ an extra 1200 workers, was heralded as good news, but adding the Explorer to the plant's responsibilities was easier said than done. Vehicle carriers and overhead carriers had to be redesigned to handle the extra size and heft of the Explorer body, while assembly workstations were simultaneously rearranged. Furthermore, all this had to happen without hampering production of either the Ford Taurus and Lincoln MKS, which are also built in the Chicago facility (the Flex and MKT, which ride upon an architecture similar to that used in the Explorer, Taurus, and MKS, are built in Ontario, Canada).
Photo 3/5   |   2011 Ford Explorer Asssembly Line Drive Off
"No details were overlooked," said Jan Allman, manager of the Chicago Assembly plant, "because we're dedicated to ensuring our plant continues to deliver the best, highest-quality products possible, and competes on the international stage in an increasingly global auto industry."
Photo 4/5   |   2011 Ford Explorer Assembly Line
To that end, Ford has obsessed about quality during the Explorer's roll-out. The company revamped a so-called rough road test surface to help identify (and eliminate) any potential squeaks and rattles. Additionally, workers began training to build Explorers this summer, and aren't certified until they've worked on 400 consecutive units without committing a single error.
Ford has a lot riding upon the launch of the new Explorer -- not only is it one of the most successful nameplates within the company's product portfolio, but the 2011 model is a drastic rethink from every previous generation. Gone is the truck-like body-on-frame architecture; in its place is a unibody structure based off the company's large D-segment platform. The V-8 engine is no more; instead, buyers can choose from either a V-6 or the new EcoBoost turbocharged 2.0-liter I-4.
Photo 5/5   |   2011 Ford Explorer Asssembly Line Front View
According to Ford, the first shipments of customer vehicles is expected to ship from the Chicago plant early next week. Pricing for the new 2011 Explorer starts at $28,995, including destination.
Source: Ford

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