Whatever Happened to the Ford Explorer?
As I stated in my post on the new Ford Fiesta, I’m a big fan of the current gen Ford Explorer. As Frank reports in his latest By The Numbers, the gas-hungry SUVs sales have rolled-over and died (so to speal). They’re down by 53.9 percent in August, off by 37.8 percent year-to-date. From a marketing point-of-view, Ford has walked away from the Explorer. When was the last time you saw an ad for one? Ford’s media site has just 11 pictures of the ’09 model, three of which show the sat nav head unit (the new gas cap also receives an honorable depiction). And yet the Explorer a profitable vehicle for Ford (still). It’s a safe, practical, comfortable, reliable, versatile machine. And it’s cheap (high 20’s to low 30’s for the V8). Is that so hard to understand? Or communicate? My suspicion is that Ford can’t launch a balls-to-the-wall “wouldn’t you really rather be driving an SUV?” ad campaign when it’s busy lobbying for umpteen billion of your tax dollars to, at least in theory, build plug-in electric hybrid diesel-powered E85-compatible hydrogen fuel cell gas sippers. It’s a shame, because the Explorer is exactly the kind of highly-evolved, maximum brand equity vehicle Ford should be building. And selling.