Ford is looking to make the Explorer a truly global model. After announcing last year that it would sell the crossover in China, it began production of the model in Russia this week.
Building the Explorer in Russia is an important move for the Blue Oval because SUVs accounted for some 31 percent of the Russian new-car market last year, according to the automaker. Despite being sold in 64 different countries and exporting over 24,000 vehicles last year, this will be the first time the Explorer has been assembled outside of the U.S. Explorers built at Ford's Sollers Elabuga Assembly Plant in the Republic of Tatarstan are for the Russian market only; all other Explorers will continue to be built at Ford's assembly plant in Chicago.
Ford will add another 500 workers to the current 1500 employees on the line at the Sollers Elabuga plant for the new Explorer production. Currently, the plant also produces the Transit van, Kuga crossover, and S-Max and Galaxy people movers.
Just as on our shores, the Russian-spec Explorer is offered with the choice of naturally aspirated and twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter V-6 engines, mated to a six-speed automatic. All-wheel drive is standard; the 2.0-liter turbo-four and front-wheel drive we get are not available.