An SUV Pioneer Goes Electric – in Europe
The Ford Explorer is one of the most venerable and well-known nameplates in the U.S. One of the first mainstream SUVs the world ever saw, the Explorer has been on sale since the nineties, and continues to be a familiar sight on American roads. Now, the Explorer is going electric – at least in Europe. Designed and built in Germany, the recently-unveiled Explorer EV is currently only for the European market, but it has a striking American design and innovative features we hope to see on our shores.
Actually the first product of a collaboration between Ford and the Volkswagen group, the new Explorer actually shares much of its basic architecture with the popular Volkswagen ID.4, which has been on sale in the U.S. for over a year. In Europe, the Explorer will lead the complete reinvention of the Ford brand, as it rapidly shifts towards zero-emissions vehicles to comply with regional regulations. Many European countries have not only announced a ban on gasoline vehicles from 2035, but many large cities have earlier zero-emissions deadlines, or charge drivers of gasoline and diesel vehicles high daily fees for driving in urban centers.
Rugged, Versatile Design Inside and Out
Like the Volkswagen ID.4, the electric Explorer if a versatile, five-seat crossover. Engineered from the ground up as an EV, it has a compact exterior and a remarkably spacious and versatile interior. The long wheelbase liberates a lot of space for front and rear occupants, while a completely flat floor provides maximum ease of movement inside, as well as a large, easy-to-access storage area in the rear. The EV Explorer’s rear roofline, which is less tapered than the ID.4’s, allows easy loading of cargo, and more space.
Indeed, looking at the electric Explorer, it’s hard to tell it shares anything with the sleek, futuristic-looking Volkswagen. While it has up-to-date design features like all-LED lighting, triangular graphics on the C-pillar, and aerodynamic wheels, the Explorer has a rugged, outdoorsy look. There’s protective cladding around the lower body, the “face” (there’s no grille) is vertical and carries a big, bold Ford logo, and the side profile is much more upright.
The cabin is completely unique to the Explorer, as well. Like the well-received Mustang Mach-E, there’s a large vertical-format touchscreen that houses almost all the controls. Hiding a storage compartment in the center console, the screen allows driver and front passenger to tilt it to the perfect viewing and operating angle. Two wireless charging pads are standard, as are Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.
A small display on the steering column, like the Mach-E, contains important driving information, and full-width air vents make the cabin feel wider. Standard equipment is comprehensive, including heated front seats and steering wheel, a massaging driver’s seat, and dual-zone climate control. The audio system is a full-width “sound bar” that provides an immersive experience.
Ford EV Explorer Comes in Rear- and All-Wheel Drive
Ford hasn’t shared specific details about the EV Explorer’s drivetrain and battery specs, other than it will be available in both rear- and all-wheel drive versions, and that it will be able to fast-charge its battery from 10 to 80 percent in just 25 minutes. However, upper-spec ID.4 models have an 82-kWh battery, and an EPA-estimated range of 260 miles for rear-wheel drive and 240 miles for all-wheel drive, with a 0-60 time of about six seconds. We’d expect the Explorer to offer similar levels of performance, as well as the same 125-kW top charging speed. A convenient app allows owners to schedule charging to take advantage of off-peak electricity rates, and pre-conditioning helps make charging faster during long trips.
The all-electric Explorer will be Ford’s first EV to be built at scale in its new Cologne EV manufacturing facility in Germany. It’s the first step in Ford’s plan to offering an all-electric portfolio of passenger vehicles in Europe by 2030. On the continent, pricing will start at under 45,000 Euros, putting the new Explorer EV right in the heart of one of the most competitive market segments.
Ford’s timing is good: the Explorer’s introduction comes at a time when European countries are rapidly pushing towards full electrification, and it is beating many mainstream competitors to market. Plus, it’s an attractive, versatile package with lots of space, good specs, and, for Europe, a reasonable price. It’s attractive enough that we hope Ford might consider selling it here in the U.S. as well.