Ford expects an increase in November U.S. sales thanks to small sport-utility vehicles

Article by Christian Andrei, on November 30, 2011

Ford Motor Co.’s sales in the U.S. for November are expected to increase, boosted by the rise in the sales of its sales of small sport-utility vehicles. Erich Merkle, Ford's sales analyst, said, "There's reason to feel good about November.” He said that there’s likely a level that would put Ford in the “mid-13-million range as an industry."

He explained that sales of small SUVs such as Ford's Escape "reign supreme." The Automotive News data center said that through October in the U.S., Ford sold 206,896 Escapes, standing for a 31% increase over the same period the previous year.

When Ford’s medium- and heavy-truck sales are added to its industrywide annual selling rate, about 200,000 are added to the total. The data center said that the November 2010 sales rate was 12.3 million. Its rival, General Motors Co., also anticipates sales to increase for November.

Last Nov. 15, Don Johnson, vice president of U.S. sales, said during an investor conference that the sales rate for November could hit 14 million (including medium- and heavy-duty truck deliveries). In October, Ford's U.S. light-vehicle sales climbed by 6.2%, lower than the 7.5% industrywide gain.

Autodata said that Ford's U.S. market share increased to 16.8% this year through October, a slight increase from 16.7% the previous year. In the first nine months of 2011, Ford posted earnings of $6.6 billion as demand rose for new models such as the Fiesta subcompact and Explorer sport-utility vehicle.

Present day customers have certain expectations on what they want from a contemporary SUV and in order to meet this demand, Ford made sure to redesign everything for the 2011 Explorer, from the inside out and from top to bottom. The main challenge therefore that the design team faced was to reinterpret a vehicle that is not only an icon but one that has defined its own segment and turned it to a modern SUV fit for the 21st century.

Design Manager Melvin Betancourt shared that the 2011 Explorer has an aerodynamic shape that reduces noise and wind while having a design language that is both evocative and bold and then placed in a unibody and rigid platform.

Its ground clearance, height, stance, and other cues more than play up its off-road capabilities, he added. For the 2011 Explorer, Betancourt continued, everything begins with the stance and proportion. Thus, the toned muscular sheet metal mixed in with the fluid and agile lines gives it unmatched aerodynamics in addition to having an athletic appearance.

Betancourt said that since the flexible lower air dam and the liftgate spoiler lip have both been joined with the fascia, they complement each other well to deliver fuel economy that has been tested and proven in the wind tunnel. Having blackened rockers puts focus on the driver empowerment of the Explorer and the 4-wheel-drive capability, he said further.

Indeed, the usual Explorer signature is still present like the blackened D-pillars and the C-pillars in body-color. However the A-pillars and the B-pillars, both blackened, deliver that wraparound daylight opening. The brand’s design language can also been seen in the new Explorer with the body-side undercut that is in line with the present design protocol implemented in the Taurus.

It is also seen with the wheel flares that are clearly inspired by none other than the Mustang. According to Betancourt, on the front end of the Explorer, the trademarked tree-bar grille comes with a new interpretation though beneath the bumper there is still the trapezoidal lower grille which gives it that visual continuity across the Ford range of vehicles.

The rounded corners, aggressive wheels and the tires that are just as aggressive, plus the shorter overhang and roof rack, are just some of the features that customers will immediately recognize as being part of a SUV. Going to the rear, there is the tail lamp cluster that looks like a jewel and from it glows the LED stop lamps. Its rear liftgate applique meanwhile projects the Explorer name.

North America Design Executive Director Moray Callum revealed that while the brand did change everything for the 2011 Explorer, it remains to be easily and immediately identifiable as an Explorer. This is because it is simply a modern interpretation of the many abilities that the Ford Explorer has long been known for, and all that is achieved without any compromise.

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