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2020 Ford Explorer Production Begins in Chicago

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2020 Ford Explorer production begins Chicago Assembly Plant (4)
2020 Ford Explorer production kicked off this month at Chicago Assembly Plant
Photo: Ford Motor Company

Ford has kicked off production on its 2020 Ford Explorer at its Chicago Assembly plant this month ahead of the next-generation SUV arriving at dealerships nationwide this summer. Ford announced in February at the 2019 Chicago Auto Show that the Explorer — as well as the all-new Police Interceptor Utility vehicles and Lincoln Aviator — would be built with the aid of a nearly $1 billion investment shared between the Chicago Assembly and Stamping plants.

The investment brought 500 additional jobs to the plant while adding cutting-edge technologies, including 3D printing tools and approximately 500 tools that detect manufacturing errors. Ford says that the changeover funded by the investment took just one month to complete.

More from Ford: A full recap of Ford’s showing at the 2019 Chicago Auto Show

“This reflects American ingenuity at its finest,” said Joe Hinrichs, Ford’s president, Automotive. “In the first five days of the transformation, the team moved the scrap metal equivalent to the weight of the Eiffel Tower from the plant, making room for new equipment. Knowing this plant is set in a city and trucks could not go in and out of the plant at all hours, the team got creative and rented a barge, put all of the scrap metal on it, floated it a mile up the river to a recycling center, then moved in more than 500 truckloads of new technology.”

Of the hefty investment in Chicago, Ford committed $40 million toward quality-of-life improvements for employees. New LED lighting that helps reduce eyestrain and headaches, a new cafeteria, improved security, and more-easily-accessed break rooms on the plant floor proper were all on the agenda.

The Ford Explorer is expected to arrive this summer and will include the all-new Explorer ST performance SUV and Explorer Limited Hybrid. The former gets 400 horsepower from a 3.0-liter EcoBoost that makes it the highest-output Explorer Ford has ever made, and the latter is expected to return a 500-mile range with RWD.

More on the 2020 Ford Explorer: America’s best-selling SUV over the last 29 years only getting better with time

Photos: 2020 Ford Explorer Kicks Off in Chicago

Chicago Assembly Plant
Chicago Assembly Plant
Photo: Ford Motor Company