Ford's Most Popular SUV, the Explorer, Is Adding an Electric Version

It could be a massive hit — if Ford gets the timing right.

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Ford recently revealed the F-150 Lightning, the brand's new all-electric version of its iconic F-150 pickup. But Ford's EV plans go well beyond that. At a financial presentation, Ford revealed that it wants to make 40 percent of its vehicle sales EVs by 2030. And the company made two key announcements that will bring them a long way toward meeting that target.

First, Ford confirmed that it is building an electric Explorer. The three-row midsize family SUV is Ford's most important non-F-Series vehicle; it outsold the Ranger, Bronco Sport and Mustang combined in the first quarter this year. An Explorer EV should be a similar play to the F-150 Lightning: sell EVs by just making the Ford cars people are already buying in electric form.

An Explorer EV, depending on the timing, could be a huge win for Ford. Three-row midsize family SUVs are trendy because they are practical for families. The only EV option similar to that is the Rivian R1S, which will be a more expensive vehicle. The other options in that segment are mostly powered by dated, inefficient V6s. The market is waiting for an EV that can also be a spacious family car.

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Ford noted that it is developing modular EV platforms. One will be compatible with rear-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive applications. Suggested applications include a "rugged SUV" (which looks a great deal like an electric Bronco), a smaller pickup truck and a cargo van. Another will be a full-size truck EV architecture that could underpin a future electric F-150. (The current F-150 Lightning, for what it's worth, is a modified version of the combustion F-150.)

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