By on October 2, 2019

Sales figures are now rolling in from the Detroit Three automakers, with Ford now reporting third-quarter volumes. While Matthew Guy will have a roundup for you later today, we can share that Ford’s most recent sales quarter was not a stellar affair, made worse by the bungled launch of a high-profile model.

As we’ve told you already, a myriad of quality issues kept thousands of Chicago-built Explorers and Lincoln Aviators from reaching dealers this summer, with the afflicted rides instead travelling by truck to Michigan’s Flat Rock Assembly for fixing before buyers could take delivery. As you’d expect, this impacted the Explorer’s sales performance and further weighed down a brand that saw its sales fall 5.6 percent in the last quarter.

The introduction of a new model coincides with a sell-down of remaining stock, and the overlap can often lead to a poor month (or quarter) for a given nameplate. However, in the Explorer’s case, constrained supply born by the detoured 2020 model resulted in a 48-percent sales drop.

Ford stated in a release that it went into the third quarter with limited inventory, adding that its stock of 2020 Explorers continues building as customers take a strong liking to the Limited and new ST models. Speaking to Bloomberg, Ford sales boss Mark LaNeve admitted that the company found itself short of supply, but stressed that the worst is over.

“We’ve got adequate inventory in our stores,” LaNeve said. “For Q4, availability won’t be an issue. We’ll be able to hit our stride with Explorer starting now.”

Image: Ford

A report last month detailed numerous issues plaguing 2020 Explorers and Aviators. As workers at Flat Rock, joined by available employees at other plants, worked flat-out to mend the vehicles, the automaker was forced to keep thousands of showroom-ready units sitting idle for up to a month. Both the Explorer and Aviator are crucial vehicles for their respective brands.

As one eagle-eyed reader noticed, the problems aren’t relegated just to the repair lot.

Regardless, the 1,899 Aviators added to the sales ledger last quarter helped push the Lincoln brand to an 11.7-percent sales increase, with year-to-date volume up 4.7 percent. The boost wasn’t all the Aviator’s doing, however. A 24.1 percent increase in quarterly Nautilus sales and a 9.4 percent rise for the top-flight Navigator would have pushed Lincoln above its Q3 2018 tally even if the Aviator hadn’t shown up.

[Images: Ford Motor Company]

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30 Comments on “Quality Issues Leads to Bumpy Takeoff for 2020 Ford Explorer...”

  • avatar

    I saw a new ST in traffic about a week ago, and I really like the proportions and styling.

    I wonder how it will compare against the Durango SRT. The Durango has more power and more tire, but the Explorer undercuts Dodge’s behemoth by about 800 pounds at curb so it could be quite a runoff.

    Hopefully quality issues don’t permanently tarnish the model’s reception. I’m not a Ford guy, but the Explorer and Aviator (from a design and performance perspective) look to be home runs.

    • 0 avatar

      I’ve seen two new Explorers (I’ve seen the same black one twice), but no STs yet. The concave rear end styling is jarring at first, but I like it. They’d better get the quality issues ironed out quickly.

    • 0 avatar

      I believe the ST undercuts the price by $2K too, but $60K plus? A lot of other choices up there for a performance vehicle.

    • 0 avatar

      Agreed – I do like the Explorer ST, but the Durango SRT is rock solid and reliable. Im in the market for a 3 row SUV and I will definitely drive the Explorer, but the SRT is hard to beat.

  • avatar

    This is so sad. Why are there so many quality issues with new vehicles these days? Is it the workers? Do you think if the company pays them more like for GM workers on strike that they will work better and build a better car? Or is it the suppliers fault and the greedy companies buying cheaper made inferior parts to build the cars and there is nothing that can be done until they buy better build parts?

    It is not just Ford but they have had their share. So so sad.
    I am still driving my 2006 Mazda3 5sp 2.0L naturally aspirated motor and enjoying the car every day which has been mostly trouble free since I bought it new in 2006. I was wanting to replace it this year because I just wanted some new paint and interior and am willing to pass it on to a family member. I have 6 kids and 10 grand kids now. :)

    • 0 avatar

      Is it actually so that quality issues are *worse* now, though?

      I’m absolutely sure that there are plenty of cars you can buy today that will be “mostly trouble free” over 13 years … and that plenty of cars you could buy in 2006 would have been nightmares by now.

      Some of it’s a crapshoot, some of it is “this brand/model/design had problems, some of which maybe never got fixed”.

      (See early-2k VW electrical problems, Jack’s old rant about the W210 E-class, etc. etc.)

    • 0 avatar

      More features and more functions inevitably leads to more potential failure modes. The only way to 100% eliminate a failure is to eliminate the function, which usually means eliminating features.

      Consider all the features present on vehicles today which were not present 25 years ago. So much more to go wrong.

    • 0 avatar

      I was thinking about this just recently as I have been looking at fullsize pickups. On paper I liked the Ram the best but then I drove 2 new ones ; one had a clunk somewhere in the front end and the other vibrated pretty badly from the rear at highway speeds. Probably just the luck of the draw driving two with issues, but it was enough to eliminate the Ram. If these issues can’t be detected before arriving at the dealer for sale, I’m spending my hard earned money elsewhere (ie will just continue with foreign built stuff).

    • 0 avatar

      “Why are there so many quality issues with new vehicles these days?”

      Because furniture guy thinks he can cut his way to profitability and buys crap like a dilapidated train station.

  • avatar

    Quality ams job 1.

    At least they caught them before they got to the dealers, etc.

    (I like to give Ford crap, despite generally liking them, because I own a SuperDuty with a 3V 5.4 … its SECOND one, with only 140kmi on it.)

    • 0 avatar
      PSX 5k Ultra Platinum Triple Black

      I own a 2013 Escape that I purchased new in 2013. That vehicle has a poor quality rating, and before I bought mine I looked at and drove several other Escapes at my selling dealership. All of them had easily noticeable interior/exterior defects.

      Mine has been trouble free in it’s 80,000 miles.

      It has even been in 3 accidents totaling $37,000 in cumulative damages, and besides that shoddy body shop / mechanical repairs done at different Ford Dealerships, it hasn’t had any reliability issues otherwise.

      My 2.0 ecoboost only gets a non synthetic oil change every 10,000 miles, and it doesn’t burn any oil.

      I feel like a sucker buying the extended warranty I never used.

    • 0 avatar
      Richard Chen

      Some did make it to dealerships:

  • avatar

    Time to resurrect the Ford Death Watch.

  • avatar

    Ford related – I am pretty sure i saw camouflaged Broncos testing in Death Valley on Saturday. That is another product they need to get right.

  • avatar

    I’ve seen some on the road, and don’t care for the proportions of the grille. It’s too big, up too high, and too wide. The rest of it looks the same as the last Explorer.

    Also, Chicago Assembly can’t build things properly so this report is no surprise. I note plenty of alignment and door issues with Ford products of late, like Fusion, Escape, and Edge.

    • 0 avatar

      Huh, I felt the same way from photos but different when I saw one in person last week. The RWD nature of this one is much clearer in person, and I thought that from 25 feet it was pretty attractive. But up close it had the usual Ford bugaboo of poorly aligned trim. My U.S.-built 2016 Highlander is put together considerably better.

    • 0 avatar

      “Also, Chicago Assembly can’t build things properly so this report is no surprise. I note plenty of alignment and door issues with Ford products of late, like Fusion, Escape, and Edge.”

      Care to elaborate or are you just pulling this from thin air? You couldn’t back anything up and then moved over to vehicles and platforms that aren’t even built in Chicago.

      • 0 avatar

        Was not asserting all those things were built in the same place. And can I back up a personal visual observation? No.

        The Ford products listed, upon visual inspection in the real world, here in the Midwest, have not been built with much care.*

        *Listed products
        **Personal observation
        ***Not all Ford products are built in Chicago

  • avatar

    How much do they cost?

  • avatar

    Let’s see now: HIgh price, assembly issues, low rent materials in the interior and fit/finish problems. I think this will not do well for Explorer in the first year of sale.

  • avatar

    Too bad because I think it is a nice looking vehicle. Also, the way the packaging inside is, feels much better than the 2019. We have 2018-2019s at work and there’s something weird about the seating position and the overall packaging. Can’t find a comfortable spot, kind of a stretch to get out..a bit of a bathtub feel which is understandable in a Camaro but not in an SUV. The 2020 fixed all that inside weirdness, but too bad is not put together well. First year growing pains let’s hope.

  • avatar
    schmitt trigger

    I believe, is caused by a perfect storm of:

    -Relentless cost cutting. This reason on itself has several sub reasons, that would would require a full article to describe them all.

    -Much shorter design cycles. For instance to place too much faith in computer models and doing few or none actual component buildups.

    -Increased complexity. A modern vehicle’s complexity is beyond staggering.

    Mind you, this is not only happening to the automotive industry, but it is perhaps the one which has the highest visibility.

  • avatar

    Welcome to the short sellers auto industry.

  • avatar

    Built Ford Proud.

    And this Explorer is already well behind the Hyundai Palasaide (Gives Lincoln a run for it’s money) and the Kia Telluride.

  • avatar

    Ford/Lincoln makes such horrendously sh*tty vehicle, with a few notable exceptions (F Series, outgoing Fusion, Mustang is okay, sort of), that they literally bring up the rear, just above Jaguar/Land Rover/Range Rover, in the reliability rankings (and no, it’s not just horrendous trim and panel and interior assembly and electronic or infotainment gremlins, but MAJOR TRANSMISSION, ENGINE AND EVEN FUNDAMENTAL BODY STRUCTURE ISSUES), that all shareholders should immediately demand the prompt resignation of Jim Hackett, and the installation of an engineer panel and quality control panel to do a top to bottom review of all facilities, processes, suppliers, etc.

    Hyundai and KIA are sooo far ahead of Ford in terms of complete, inside to outside, fit/finish to mechanical/powertrain/drivetrain quality and reliability that it’s not even funny…it makes me feel terrible as an American who loves America. The Hyundai Palisade and KIA Telluride both are built with materials so much better, inside and out, and with an assembly precision about 880% better than these rolling dumpster fire Ford/Lincoln SUVs, at a price that’s real world 30% less (with more equipment).


  • avatar
    John M

    I owned one. Not a world car, more of a bigger Volkswagen. The silly 5 cylinder engine was just a 1.5l VW 4 with an extra cylinder added! Same cam, spacing, everything. Cheap ass crap! Still, I got on “huge” 215 width tires (front only), put shorter, cut down springs from a much heavier car in front, bolted the subframe directly to the car (it originally used rubber bushings), giving it some crazy cornering ability. Had no power though. It didn’t help I was using Castrol 20w50 oil which eventually ruined the engine but I learned the hard way.

    Drove that thing in NYC, up and down the east coast, and then to San Francisco. Never let me down. It was wide enough to sleep across the back seat, almost comfortably! Bosch K Jetronic mechanical fuel injection was not responsive but was dead reliable. Unfortunately mine was an automatic.

    The color was “Dakota Beige”. Great color. I was spraying some repairs once and asked someone watching if they wanted a tan (answer: NO). I also removed all the stupid black trim strips and filled the holes, giving it really clean custom look, plus mine was a 79 and it had the 4 round headlights with the weird silver plastic trim, which was really strange and unique and I liked it. Blacked out windows in back, sunroof (sometimes would drive through the park with someone standing up through the roof like a staff car!), had a lot of fun with that thing. If I took the front wheel of my mountain bike it would easily fit in the trunk! So much room in that thing. It was great in many ways.

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