Despite spending several months trying to get its Chicago assembly plant working at full speed to roll out the 2020 Ford Explorer according to schedule, the automaker admits that the launch of the full-size SUV was anything but great.
In a report published by The Detroit News, Ford acknowledged that the official launch of the 2020 Explorer didn’t go as planned.
“This is a rarity,” said Ford’s president of automotive Joe Hinrichs, who also added that the company bit more than it could chew. He said that the Chicago assembly plant wasn’t fully prepared for the enormous shift brought about by the new SUV, from a front-wheel-drive to a new rear-wheel-drive platform.
“We’re proud that Explorer is America’s all-time, best-selling SUV. The transformation at Chicago Assembly was one of the most complex in the company’s history, resulting in a slower launch than expected.” a statement from Ford said.
A Ford representative added: “We are shipping the all-new Explorer to dealers now and performing additional quality inspections as needed to ensure these vehicles are built with the quality our customers expect.”
Following the botched launch, Ford gave the Chicago plant 31 days to retool the facility to accommodate the production of the 2020 Explorer. During this time, the company gave its workers unprecedented off-site training.
The Detroit News also said the problems with the production of the 2020 Explorer could be attributed to Ford ordering to build multiple models and several trim levels simultaneously. This is also on top of the 2020 Lincoln Aviator models that are being assembled in the same facility.
This resulted in Ford shipping the SUVs from Chicago to its Flat Rock plant in Michigan for additional quality control, which eventually affected its sales numbers. For this year’s third quarter, Explorer sales are down 50%, although the company claims it is now back on track and positive it can make up for lost ground. Ford is reportedly rolling out an SUV in Chicago nearly every minute.