Ford reportedly delays Explorer EV in favor of Mustang Mach-E

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Ford is delaying the launch of its forthcoming all-electric Explorer SUV from mid-2023 to at least December 2024, according to Automotive News. The rollout of an all-electric Lincoln Aviator built on the same shared Ford EV platform is also being delayed along that same timeframe.

Ford also no longer plans to build the two EVs at its factory in Cuautitlan, Mexico, where it makes the Mustang Mach-E, according to the report. The company confirmed the vehicles in May.

Emma Bergg, Ford’s director of EV communications, declined to confirm the delay but said that Ford now plans to use the entire plant in Cuautitlan for Mach-E production.

“We have unprecedented demand for Mustang Mach-E and we are going to scale production quickly to meet demand. We are now planning to utilize the entire Cuautitlan plant for production of Mach-E,” Bergg wrote in an email. She added that Ford now plans to make as many as 200,000 Mach-Es per year by 2023.

The delay means that it now may be a while before there’s a third electric vehicle in Ford’s North American lineup, following the Mach-E and the F-150 Lightning. CEO Jim Farley has hinted at all-electric versions of the new Bronco SUV and Maverick compact pickup, though the company hasn’t said when those would be built.

Ford’s EV ambitions haven’t dampened, though. The company recently ramped up the number of F-150 Lightnings it plans to make in the coming years. It’s also hiring extra workers to handle the demand for the electric pickup truck. The automaker has said it wants to make 600,000 EVs worldwide by 2023.

“Our goal is to become the clear No. 2 electric vehicle maker in North America within the next couple years and then challenge for No. 1,” Bergg wrote in the email.

Ford’s Explorer SUV is one of its most popular vehicles outside of the F-Series lineup of trucks. The Explorer is also one of the driving forces of the company’s dominance in the police and security vehicle market. With the Biden administration incentivizing government fleets to go electric, that means Ford may have to focus on introducing pursuit-rated versions of its other EVs while the Explorer waits in the wings. And, in fact, it’s already doing this — the Mustang Mach-E passed Michigan state police tests in September and will get tested by the Department of Homeland Security in 2022.

Lincoln is rumored to be working on electric versions of the smaller Nautilus and Corsair EVs that could hit the market before the delayed Aviator. Lincoln previously canceled an EV it was co-developing with Rivian in 2020. Ford, which owns roughly 12 percent of Rivian, also dropped a project with the EV startup in November.

Correction: This story previously stated Ford was working on a mid-size electric SUV similar to the Edge based on a 2019 report, but that vehicle wound up being the Explorer EV. We’ve removed the reference to the Edge and regret the error.

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