European-spec 2023 Ford Explorer is an EV with Volkswagen bones

This article was originally published HERE


Ford enlisted the help of Volkswagen and repurposed a familiar nameplate to plant its stake in Europe’s electric crossover segment. Built on the MEB platform, the European-market Explorer is an electric, city-friendly model that shares nothing but a name with the SUV sold here.

Let’s address the elephant in the room: the model pictured in our gallery is not a replacement for the American-market Explorer, and Ford confirmed to Autoblog that it will not be sold in the United States. “The new electric Explorer is the European interpretation of an electric Explorer — made in Europe for Europe,” a spokesperson told us. That’s not a “maybe,” a “we’ll see,” or a “who knows?” It’s a “no.”

Visually, the Explorer’s front end is characterized by a grille-less design and an “EXPLORER”-branded piece of trim flanked by thin lights. It rides on a relatively long wheelbase, while its rear bumper features a piece of trim shaped like the one embedded into the front bumper. Full technical specifications haven’t been released but Ford notes the crossover stretches roughly 177 inches from bumper to bumper. In comparison, the American-market Explorer (which is available in some European nations) measures approximately 199 inches long.

Step inside and you’ll find space for five passengers on two rows of seats. The driver faces a digital instrument cluster, while the dashboard is dominated by a height-adjustable, 15-inch touchscreen that displays the infotainment system and hides a storage compartment. Ford also included some cool features, such as a massive center console capable of holding a 15-inch laptop and a futuristic-looking sound bar positioned on top of the dashboard. Numerous electronic driving aids, including Assisted Lane Change, will be offered as well.

Ford didn’t have much to say about what’s under the sheet metal. We know that the Explorer rides on a version of the MEB platform found under the Volkswagen ID.3, ID.4, and ID. Buzz, among numerous other models, and buyers will be able to select rear- or all-wheel-drive.

At launch, buyers will have two trim levels called Explorer and Explorer Premium, respectively, to choose from. Production will take place in Cologne, Germany, and pricing should start at about €45,000 (approximately $48,600 at the current conversion rate). If you’re reading this in Europe, you might be wondering what the future holds for the American-market Explorer that Ford sells in small numbers on your side of the pond. Good question. We learned from a company representative that production for the European market will end halfway through 2023.

Ford and Volkswagen sitting in a tree…

Wrapping your head around the idea of two decades-old rivals joining forces to design a car might require Olympic-level mental gymnastics, but this isn’t the first time Ford and Volkswagen have teamed up. The second-generation Amarok truck introduced in 2022 is closely related to the newest version of the Ranger under the sheet metal. There’s plenty more: set your time machine to 1991, board a 747 to Brazil, walk into a Ford showroom, and you’ll spot a sedan called Versailles that was a badge-engineered Santana that emerged from a Volkswagen-Ford joint-venture called AutoLatina. Its wagon sibling was marketed as the Royale. The collaboration went both ways: Volkswagen’s Pointer and Logus models were badge-engineered variants of the Escort and Orion, respectively. The joint-venture was dissolved in 1995.

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