This is not the Ford Explorer you know. This is something different entirely, in more ways than one. Meet the new Explorer, now running on electricity only for the first time ever and, in an even wilder development, on a Volkswagen platform.
The first of a long-planned collaboration between Ford and VW’s electric MEB architecture has borne fruit in the form of a new, all-electric Explorer, unveiled today and aimed straight at the growing European EV crossover market. To get the important stuff out of the way first: no, it will not be sold in North America and will not replace the Explorer we’ve been driving the past few years here.
Instead, it’s part of Ford’s plan to leverage its most iconic nameplates and American-style vehicles as it executes a big pivot in Europe to larger cars and also EVs. Ford plans to go all-electric there by 2030.
“Explorer is the first in a wave of innovative new electric vehicles from Ford and forges the way for a complete reinvention of the Ford brand in Europe,” Ford said in a news release today. “The mid-size crossover has seats for five across two rows and is fully equipped to set families on the road to adventure.”
The new electric Explorer will be built in Germany and will have the ability to charge from 10 to 80 percent in 25 minutes on a DC fast-charging station; roughly on par with many current rivals. We also know it will be available in two trims, Explorer and Explorer Premium, with a starting price of under 45,000 euros (about $48,500) and can be had in rear- or all-wheel-drive trims.
That’s what we do know. Many other details, including its battery size and total range, were not disclosed in today’s release. But we also know that this is one of two vehicles resulting from a long-planned team-up between VW and Ford; the former company had long planned to license its electric MEB platform to other automakers.
That was the plan, anyway. Since then Ford has said it will only manufacture two vehicles with VW’s help, opting to focus on its own EV development. In the interim, building the Explorer with MEB guts help Ford get a new EV on the road in Europe, where that segment is rapidly expanding, and to get customers there used to its new direction.
But let’s assume it has similar specs to a European Volkswagen ID.4, since they share a great deal of commonality. This could mean the Explorer is capable of about 300 miles of range on the European WLTP cycle, which is not bad at all (it has up to 275 miles of range in the U.S.) We won’t know the official range specs until they’re released, however.
It’s got a pretty different interior than an ID.4, I’ll give it that. But one thing I do find interesting is that this EV Explorer will use the SYNC Move infotainment system (with a movable tablet screen, no less) and not VW’s proprietary software. Considering the headaches VW has had on that front, it’s probably good news, but also a bit surprising considering how deeply software is embedded in that vehicle.
Overall, it’s an interesting experiment—albeit one with a design that doesn’t really scream “Explorer” to me. And even if it’s a temporary one until Ford can make more of its own EVs fully in-house, it may just get the Blue Oval brand on the path it wants in the Old World.
Bring it over here, or hard pass from us, America?