The Blue Oval has ironed out the kinks.
The 2020 Ford Explorer is an important launch for the Blue Oval, as the mid-size SUV is one of the company's best sellers and will even be used as a police interceptor in the United States. But despite high hopes for the all-new, rear-wheel-drive platform sixth-generation Explorer, the launch didn't go as smoothly as Ford planned. Early examples were delivered without a parking brake cover and both the Explorer and its Lincoln-branded Aviator sibling suffered major technical issues. These quality issues caused delays, hurting Explorer sales.
But speaking with CNBC, Mark LaNeve, Ford Vice President of US Marketing, Sales, and Service, said both production and sales for the Explorer are now "on track." In fact, Explorer sales in February 2020 were the best for that month since 2005.
"The bad news is, we had some delays in the launch. The good news is, we have a product for several that looks like we have a winner, and we're optimistic about the balance of the year," LaNeve said. "We're certainly off to a good start." Not only has Ford regained its 17% market share in the mid-size SUV category, but it also makes more money off each Explorer sold.
The average transaction price paid for an Explorer is now $39,200, which is up by $2,400 compared to last year. Ford prices the base Explorer at $32,765 and the XLT trim at $36,675, so buyers are clearly checking the boxes on a few options. Ford says the Explorer's average transaction price is also higher than the segment average.
"We feel good. We knew all along we built the right product," LaNeve said. "Despite some glitches as we were getting going there with the rebuild of the plant in Chicago, we feel we are on track now and looking forward to many successful years with this product." Ford will have to regain ground against successful launches including the Kia Telluride and Hyundai Palisade but it looks like the company is back on track.