It’s safe to say that the Ford Explorer is now a global model since it started production in Russia last week. Ford revealed last year that the crossover will be available in China. The Blue Oval considers this output in Russia to be significant since SUVs make up about 31% of the new-car market in this country in 2012. Even if the Explorer is sold in 64 countries and Ford has exported more than 24,000 vehicles in 2012, this marks the first time that the Explorer was built outside of the U.S.
The Explorers that are rolled out at Ford’s Sollers Elabuga Assembly Plant in the Republic of Tatarstan are meant to be sold at just the Russian market but all other Explorers will still be produced at Ford’s assembly plant in Chicago.
For the new Explorer production, Ford will hire 500 more workers to its present 1500 employees on the line at the Sollers Elabuga plant. For now, this plant also builds the Transit van, Kuga crossover, and S-Max and Galaxy models.
Just like those offered in the U.S., the Russian-spec Explorer comes with naturally aspirated and twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter V-6 engines, coupled to a six-speed automatic. All-wheel drive is offered as standard but the 2.0-liter turbo-four and front-wheel drive that Americans get are not yet available in Russia.
“Russia is on its way to being the largest market in Europe and presents an enormous opportunity for growth,” said Ted Cannis, president and CEO of Ford Sollers. “We anticipate SUV sales to continue to grow as Russian customers prefer the image and performance these utility vehicles provide in severe weather and challenging road conditions.”