By on April 10, 2014

Explorer Sport rear quarter, picture courtesy Michael Karesh

As previously reported by TTAC earlier this year, future Ford Explorers and Expeditions could one day wear aluminium bodies.

Edmunds reports the SUVs could easily go aluminium should Ford decided to do so based on the higher base prices of both vehicles being able to sustain the higher cost of the metal. The Explorer and Expedition could see improved fuel economy from the several hundreds of pounds lost as a result.

Alongside aluminium, Ford also aims to improve the engines, transmissions and aerodynamics in their lineup as the automaker seeks to reduce CO2 emissions annually by 4 percent to meet ever-stringent global standards.

The earliest an all-aluminium Explorer or Expedition could come is 2018, as the U.S. metals industry is stepping up aluminium production in anticipation of more Ford products extensively using the lightweight metal.

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28 Comments on “Future Ford Explorers, Expeditions Could Wear All-Aluminium Bodies...”


  • avatar
    LeeK

    Uh-oh. Here we go again. It’s the End of the World as we know it, according to the ironistas.

    • 0 avatar
      Felis Concolor

      It will make useless the tried and true refrigerator magnet technique to detect undeclared poorly executed accident repairs in the secondary market, but today’s auto history tracking services have rendered that a moot point.

  • avatar
    TheyBeRollin

    Does this mean they’ll also drop the pretense of these cars being trucks?

    What’s next? Aerodynamics?

    At the rate this is going, SUVs will evolve into essentially what they should have been in the first place: minivans (small and large) with hinged rear doors and names that have less stigma.

    Just look at the Explorer. All it would take is a little cab-forward windshield and driving position movement combined with a little less overhang in the rear before this looks like the descendant of an Aerostar with illegally-dark tinted rear windows.

    Which also reminds me: Now that the Explorer is no longer a truck, how does Ford get away with that otherwise-illegal rear tint? The SUV exception was because they were classified as trucks and not cars.

    • 0 avatar
      SlowMyke

      ” At the rate all this is going, SUVs and SUV-style vehicles will evolve into essentially minivans (small and large) with hinged rear doors and names that have less stigma”

      Haven’t they already? Especially the larger “suv’s” and cuv’s. i would still call the smaller ones tall wagons/ hatchbacks, but the pathfinder, traverse, flex, etc… all those are minivans with a bit of ground clearance and plastic cladding to try hiding it.

      I do miss all the legit suv options, but it’s just as well they’ve become what they are. it better serves the market. So long as jeep and a few other random models from other makes don’t get completely neutered, I’m fine with the trend in the long run.

      • 0 avatar
        TheyBeRollin

        I totally agree on the wagon aspect. Many fill the same niche wagons did and now have the mechanics to match. However, remembering the revolutionary minivans from my childhood, this Explorer looks more like an oversized wagon as well. I’d always opt to be a rear passenger in a minivan over a wagon or sedan as a child.

        As for ground clearance, I’m pretty sure they’re no better than 80s wagons or minivans. Minivans didn’t get that weird low-floor treatment until much later.

    • 0 avatar
      bigdaddyp

      Might vary by state, but you can have dark tint on the rear side and rear window because with proper mirrors up you *don’t * need to be able to see out of them. Tinting front windows is a big no-no and cops will be over you like a fat man on a Twinkie.

      • 0 avatar
        TheyBeRollin

        It’s the darkness I’m getting at. Cars (these now have a car chassis) have strict rear tint limits in almost all states. SUVs and truck-based vans skirted this because they were technically trucks, which could technically be made with no rear windows at all. If they did the same level of tinting on a wagon or minivan, it would be illegal.

        They need to either apply this uniformly to all vehicles or end this silly double standard.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Just had this conversation last night. While the rules to vary state to state depending on DOT, the general consensus is don’t put limo tint on the front doors as this screams pinch me. If you put 50% on the front chances are you’ll be ok because you can still be seen in the driver’s seat.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          This also varies by:

          -Where you live, as in part of town.
          -The sort/price of car you’re tinting.
          -Whether the police suspect you’re black or an immigrant.

    • 0 avatar
      Madroc

      Not that the current Explorer is in any way a descendant of the original Explorer — but I believe the Aerostar and the Explorer were platform-mates once upon a time (both based on the Ranger chassis).

      • 0 avatar
        TheyBeRollin

        No, the Aerostar was a unique platform called the VN1. They shared other parts with the Ranger, but not the chassis.

        The Explorer was very closely related to the Ranger up until the one released in 2000.

  • avatar
    carguy

    A good move by Ford. This will give consumers exactly what they want: the space of an SUV and the gas consumptions of a mid size sedan.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    What a lovely porch on that house.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    Works for me. If it’s good enough for the F-150, it’s good enough for the car-based vehicles. However, those vehicles probably don’t have profit-margins that are as large as those of the F-150, and so Ford will need to make the technology cheaper.

  • avatar
    Superdessucke

    I’m no industry guy like a lot of you but it would seem to me that if we had fewer pig-assed vehicles like this, we wouldn’t need to be talking about using aluminum to, I assume, drop their pork factor so they can meet upcoming fuel efficiency standards.

    Maybe this is a blessing in disguise though. Hopefully the inevitable design and construction flaws coupled with higher prices will bring the SUV/CUV craze to an end.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      There will continue to be more CUVs, not less. Derek has had some excellent articles about CUVs lately. Try to think of them as wagons if it helps.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        The need for wagon-like vehicles is always present, what changes is how marketing delivers them. Same sh1t, different label.

        • 0 avatar
          bball40dtw

          Based on the sales numbers, marketing or design got the current Explorer right.

          • 0 avatar
            danio3834

            The Explorer is an excellent example of this phenomenon. Take a slow selling wagon like the Taurus X, chisel the styling a bit, give it the name of a truck based SUV and voila! Success!

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            Too bad the Explorer has been slowly strangling the Flex to death since 2011.

      • 0 avatar
        Superdessucke

        I like to think of them as top heavy overweight cars, which is really what they are. I can’t wait to see how well our American manufacturers implement that aluminum body. My official guess will be about as well as they did the aluminum cylinder head on the Chevy Vega.

        • 0 avatar
          bball40dtw

          The Explorer typically weighs 400-500 lbs, or 10% more than the comparable Taurus. It adds seating for two more, extra sheet metal and glass, and some more robust components. That doesn’t seem unreasonable to me.

        • 0 avatar
          wmba

          “My official guess will be about as well as they did the aluminum cylinder head on the Chevy Vega.”

          Er, that was an aluminum block with no liners and an iron cylinder head, in fact. My mother had one, a big step down from the Volvo 544 she had previously (destroyed in an accident).

          Who knows what the GM engineers were thinking, back in the company’s heyday. It was their moon shot that did not really work, unfortunately.

          However, aluminum sheet in a car body is hardly new technology. Jaguars have used it for 15 years, and Ford owned them when they implemented it. Audi before them in the A2 and A8

          I really don’t understand all this “concern” about aluminum bodies. It sure isn’t rocket science.

          • 0 avatar
            rochambeau

            I believe the cylinders in the Vega engine–though not lined–were imbedded with silicon/silicone(?) just not to the degree needed. The patented process was considered a breakthrough and adopted by Porsche–to much better effect…

  • avatar
    Z71_Silvy

    Let the peeling paint and corrosion begin!!


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