Ford’s new electric Explorer takes aim at Tesla and VW

Ford’s New Electric Explorer Takes Aim At Tesla And Vw
Ford Explorer EV
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Neil Briscoe and Michael McAleer

It’s been relatively slow off the line compared to rivals, but Ford is ready to roll out its latest fully electric model, the Explorer.

It’s a mid-sized crossover which will be Ford’s second fully-electric model, and will sit alongside the more expensive Mustang Mach-E in the line-up.


The name is well known in the US market, if not on this side of the Atlantic. However, this is not just some US import: the Explorer will be built in Europe at the firm’s Cologne plant, which has been refitted for its electric future at a cost of $2 billion.

The blue oval brand couldn’t deliver this model on its own though: Ford has decided to short-cut its European EV development timeframe by buying in proven technology from a supposed arch-rival — Volkswagen. Underneath, the electric Explorer rides on the same MEB electric car platform as the Volkswagen ID.4, ID.3, ID.5 and ID.Buzz, the Skoda Enyaq, the Cupra Born, and the Audi Q4 e-tron.

It’s great kudos to the engineers behind the MEB that so many of the current crop of EVs on our roads are running on their powertrain.


Outside, there’s little to give away that the electric Explorer shares the same hardpoints as an ID.4, other than a general similarity in bluff uprightness. At the front, there’s a big flat panel where normally a grille would sit, which Ford calls a ‘shield’ and which is there to emphasise the car’s electric nature. Around the back, there are cues taken from the big US version of the Explorer SUV especially around the lights. Ford describes the car as “a bold new electric vehicle that combines German engineering with striking American style.”

Inside, there are similarly few VW Group giveaways. Ford is using a tall portrait-oriented touchscreen which is running the same SYNC software as seen in the Mustang Mach-E and the recently updated Focus hatch.

Ford Explorer EV
Ford Explorer EV

That’s very good news, as Ford’s software is considerably slicker and simpler to use than VW’s. The 15-inch screen also moves up and away on an admittedly rather clunky sliding system to reveal a secure hidden storage compartment behind. However, some of the flush buttons that annoy on VWs appear in the Explorer - particularly its volume slider control.


The electric Explorer should be pretty practical — Ford boasts of a 17-litre storage area in the centre console that can store a laptop or a large handbag — but its boot is on the small side, at 470-litres. That compares poorly to the 543-litres offered by the Volkswagen ID.4, or the 585-litres you’ll find behind the bootlid of a Skoda Enyaq.

Ford previously talking of a 500km range on one charge, which suggests that the electric Explorer will carry-over VW’s 77kWh battery pack, and it’s 135kW fast charging ability — although officially for now the range is ‘not confirmed.’

It’s possible that Ford will also follow VW’s lead and sell a smaller battery model, with a reduced range, at a lower price, but that is as yet unconfirmed. Ford says the electric Explorer will fast-charge from 10 to 80 per cent charge in 25 minutes from a high-speed public charging point, such as an Ionity charger — Ford is a shareholder in Ionity.

Ford says the Explorer will fast-charge from 10 to 80 per cent charge in 25 minutes from a high-speed public charging point, such as an Ionity

Specs and prices are yet to be set, but Ford will be trying to closely match the €50,000 price tag of a big-battery ID.4. Standard specification includes heated front seats and steering wheel, a massaging driver’s seat and dual-zone climate control. For the first time in any Ford model, the electric Explorer will come with fully-automated lane-change assistant, as well as a blind spot monitor that checks behind you for cyclists and warns you not to open a door into their path.

The electric Explorer is also going to be rugged, or at least Ford hopes to prove it so by teaming up with adventure influencer Lexie Alford – also known as Lexie Limitless and the youngest person in history to visit every country in the world – for a global expedition in the new all-electric Explorer. It’s inspired by original female explorer, Aloha Wanderwell, who set a record 100 years ago with a Ford-sponsored round-the-world trip in a Model T.

Ford is certainly bullish about the new electric Explorer ‘s prospects. Ford’s UK boss, Northern Ireland-born Lisa Brankin said: “You might think of Ford as having a culture that’s very traditionally organised, very inertia-heavy. But we have changed. We are changing. We have done things in the past three years that I would never have thought possible.”

There was then a sly dig at some of Ford’s younger competitors, Tesla especially, with Brankin saying: “It’s about industrial infrastructure, plants, logistics, purchasing; all of the things that you need to have a successful business. That’s some of the stuff that we do really well, that maybe some of the new startup companies don’t know as well. We know how to do that.”


“Explorer is a trailblazer for a new breed of exciting Ford electric vehicles. Steeped in our American roots but built in Cologne for our customers in Europe, it is road trip-ready for the big adventures and fully loaded with everything our customers will need for their daily drives,” said Martin Sander, general manager, Ford Model e, Europe.

The next couple of years will be hectic for Ford in the electric sphere. A coupe-style version of the Explorer is on the way as well as an all-electric version of the Puma crossover (which will get a swanky new high-quality interior), electric versions of the Transit Custom, Transit Courier, and MPV-style Tourneo Courier to sit alongside the existing large E-Transit, and an updated version of the Mustang Mach-E, which has been wildly popular in the US but which is still rather finding its feet in Europe.

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