Ford MEB model Explorer costs less than €45,000

Image: Ford

Ford has unveiled a new mid-size electric SUV called Explorer. The BEV will be built in Cologne and is supposed to be nothing less than the first of a “new wave of bold, iconic electric vehicles …steeped in Ford’s American roots and designed for Europe.” The Explorer’s electric drive is not made by Ford.

Not only does the electric Explorer have no relation to the gasoline-fuelled SUV from Ford’s US lineup, but it also has little in common with the rest of the automaker’s European portfolio. That is because the Explorer is the first vehicle developed as part of a cooperation with Volkswagen. The two carmakers signed a contract for a global alliance in 2020, paving the way for a Ford electric vehicle based on Volkswagen’s Modular Electric Drive Box (MEB).

Ford has not yet revealed any technical data about the Explorer. The carmaker promises to reveal all, including the final price tag, before the market launch. But Ford gave a little taste of what is to come, saying that pricing will probably start below €45,000 in Germany.

When the Explorer comes to the market this year, it will be available in two variants, each with a choice of rear- or all-wheel drive. And while Ford is keeping details under wraps, looking at the MEB at least provides some clues since VW does not offer many variants in this size class.

The Explorer will likely feature the largest MEB battery to date, with 82 kWh gross/77 kWh net. The rear-wheel drive produces 150 kW, while VW offers two all-wheel drive options with an additional ASM on the front axle with 195 and 220 kW. Of course, Ford may deviate slightly from these values due to a different setup.

According to Ford, the Explorer will be able to fast charge from ten to 80 per cent in just 25 minutes. An announcement that comes as a bit of a surprise since the specification for VWs based on the MEB is 29 minutes. How Ford will achieve that remains to be seen.

So far, it has been confirmed that the Explorer is to be a five-seat family car with “Comfort-boosting standard specifications.” This large family car it is supposed to be “road trip-ready for the big adventures and fully loaded with everything our customers will need for their daily drives.” It is difficult to assess these statements without information on the range or off-road capability of the chassis.

The trunk can hold 470 litres, even in a five-seater configuration, which could be an important factor for families. And Ford emphasizes a “private locker storage space” in the centre console below the armrest. The 17-litre console can even hold a 15-inch laptop. There is no mention of whether Ford’s MEB model has (unlike the VW models) a frunk under the front hood. A large storage compartment under the trunk floor, such as in Tesla models or VW’s ID.2all study, is unlikely.

Ford’s own interior

The centre console’s extensive storage options are not the only difference between the Explorer and comparable models like the VW ID.4 or Skoda Enyaq. The interior was entirely designed by Ford. Thus, the Explorer does not have the free-standing VW touchscreen and the small cockpit display but instead follows the Ford setup from the Mustang Mach-E. The 15-inch touchscreen of the ‘SYNC Move’ infotainment system is mounted upright, though not as steeply as in the Mustang Mach-E – in terms of angle, the Explorer touchscreen is probably more comparable to the Mercedes solution in the EQE/EQS without the Hyperscreen.

Based on the released images, the cockpit display seems to be mounted on the dashboard and not on the steering column like in some VW models. The drive mode is selected via a dedicated steering column lever (rather than on the side of the cockpit display), and the multifunction steering wheel has touch controls instead of classic switches. Ford also promises that the Explorer’s “remium materials and features such as sculpted sporty seats and a sophisticated soundbar more typical of revolutionary concept cars than family vehicles.”

In terms of body design, the Explorer is said to “consciously incorporate the powerful style of Ford SUV models from the US” but bring it “into the age of electromobility.” Elsewhere, Ford speaks of an “aerodynamically optimised body,” but the massive, steep front and rather steep rear end don’t seem particularly well suited to dodging the wind. The Explorer takes over the position of the charging port from its MEB siblings; it is located above the right rear wheel.

To facilitate charging on the road, the infotainment system is supposed to display the most useful charging points on the planned route. This feature will likely be used by adventure travel influencer Lexie Alford: She’s scheduled to embark on a tour with the Explorer later this year, according to Ford, to highlight its “travel and long-distance qualities.”

Ford is now taking reservations online, though it is unclear when and how these will be converted into binding orders since the carmaker has yet to announce the actual start of production in Cologne. Ford only announced that it wants to deliver the first vehicles before the end of the year.

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