Recently, Ford revealed its next EV for Europe: an electric car version of the Explorer, which is very popular in the United States. It’s even available as rear-wheel drive! But, for some reason they’re not going to sell it in the United States.
The Electric Euro-Explorer
Before I give some opinion on the lack of a US release for it, I want to talk about the vehicle itself a bit. Ford describes it as a mix of “German engineering and American style,” so that leaves a lot of possibility for what lies beneath the sheet metal.
According to Ford, its new EV Explorer is a revolutionary electric vehicle that paves the way forward for the Ford brand in Europe. This mid-sized crossover features five seats across two rows and is designed to provide families with all they need to begin their journeys. Explorer is the first of a planned series of fresh new electric vehicles from Ford, making it a milestone car for the company and a peek at what’s ahead.
“Explorer is a trailblazer for a new breed of exciting Ford electric vehicles. Steeped in our American roots but built in Cologne for our customers in Europe, it is road trip-ready for the big adventures and fully loaded with everything our customers will need for their daily drives,” said Martin Sander, general manager, Ford Model e, Europe.
Ford mentioned German engineering in the press release next, but didn’t actually talk about the engineering. Instead, they aimed to wow journalists with the “digital experience.” That’s important to many drivers, so I’ll relay that it boasts a SYNC Move 2 supersized movable touchscreen and infotainment system, providing audio tailored to the interior, wireless app integration and advanced driver assistance technology. On the road, Explorer can help you find the most convenient pit stops with easy charging options. You can even schedule your charging at home to make use of cheaper electricity and deliver a full battery and pre-warmed cabin for those early starts.
It’s also got lots of storage space, with 470 liters even in five-seat mode — perfect for city exploration. Plus, its 17-liter console between driver and front-seat passenger can stow away a 15-inch laptop, as well as a private locker for added convenience. And if that wasn’t enough, it also comes with hands-free accessible boot space so you can jump straight into loading things without having to put them down first.
While all of these details are nice, Ford didn’t give us anything about the drivetrain or battery pack to run with, other than that it’s available as rear-drive or all-wheel-drive (which is great). But, poking around the website, I couldn’t find any real details on the nuts and bolts.
From the video, I found that the vehicle has a big, flat battery pack, and a weird “assemble the car as it goes down the road” segment shows us it’s a skateboard platform in what appears to be a unibody.
What I Think Of The Explorer EV
Sadly, I don’t feel like Ford has released enough information for me to really give an opinion that’s worth anything. The vehicle looks good, and it looks like it will be very comfortable and safe. It looks like it has decent technology, and might even have a good trip planning system.
But, readers who don’t have any kind of an automotive background rely on people in my position to interpret what all the figures mean. Knowing what kind of range they’re getting with a battery of a known capacity says a lot about the efficiency or lack thereof. Knowing how the vehicle is laid out allows us to set some expectations for the public on how it might feel to drive, and what kinds of things it might be useful for.
About all I can confidently say is that the vehicle will probably be similar to an ID.4 or Tesla in driving experience because it’s rear- or all-wheel-drive. Beyond that, it’s all guesses and speculation.
Fortunately, Wikipedia had better information that Ford was providing to the press. According to their sources, the Euro-Explorer is based on the Volkswagen MEB platform, so it’s probably going to be very similar to the VW ID.4, but will be a little smaller (but still bigger than the ID.3).
Its rear-wheel-drive version is rated at 168 bhp (170 PS; 125 kW). Equipped with a 55 kWh (52 kWh usable) battery, it has an estimated range of up to 350 km (217 mi). For higher performance, one can opt for the single motor model with 282 bhp (286 PS; 210 kW), featuring a larger 82 kWh (77 kWh usable) battery and rated at around 540 km (336 mi) in a single charge – plus, you get maximum charging speed of 170 kW. The flagship model Explorer comes with dual motors and 335 bhp (340 PS; 250 kW), also with an 82 kWh (77 kWh usable) battery and fast charging from 10 to 80 percent in about 25 minutes. It is capable of 490 km (304 mi) of range and has towing capacity of up to 1,400 kg (3,086 lb). Wheel sizes available are 19, 20 and 21 inches.
With all of that information, it’s pretty clear that the vehicle is a unibody-skateboard crossover comparable to what VW is offering in the States (but a little smaller). For people doing highway driving and relatively light towing duty, it should be a decent vehicle.
We Probably Shouldn’t Be Mad That Ford Isn’t Selling This In The US
Based on what we had to get from unofficial sources, I don’t think the vehicle is suitable for the United States, at least not as an Explorer.
When we talk about Ford Explorers, Americans have certain expectations. A unibody crossover with five seats that can only tow around 3,000 pounds just isn’t what we’d associate with that nameplate. Here in the States, an explorer is still a unibody, but it’s larger, more powerful, and can tow more. It has seven seats available. It’s tough enough to tow over 5,000 pounds (plugin hybrid or straight-gas).
If Ford brought the Euro-Explorer EV (my name for it, not theirs) to the States, it would be disappointingly small, weak, and towing incapable. There’s nothing wrong with that, as people drive little crossovers all the time and love them (I personally drive a front-drive Bolt EUV), but Ford North America wouldn’t ever call that little thing an Explorer. It would get some other name.
It’s clear that this vehicle was meant to convey the idea of the Explorer to European audiences, but tailored to European needs and expectations. They make it look like an Explorer and ride like an Explorer, but they didn’t make it the same as our Yank Explorer (again, my name, not theirs).
So, we shouldn’t be disappointed. Ford is going to build something that runs on batteries and acts like a real American Explorer at some point, and it will probably be awesome.
Featured image by Ford Europe.
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