Moments before a white 2011 Ford Explorer was driven over a mountain of dirt at Ford’s world headquarters in Dearborn, company CFO Lewis Booth said the iconic SUV is coming to market just as Ford’s turnaround plans are gaining momentum.
“The profitability of the company is being driven by new products. I think it all started with the launch of the Ford Fusion at the beginning of last year,” Booth said. “Today, I think the return of a real icon, the all-new Explorer … is consistent with the reinvention of the company.”
Booth also thanked more than 2,000 employees, dealers and guests for helping Ford achieve the $2.6 billion first quarter profit that the company announced Friday before revealing the 2011 Ford Explorer, which the automaker says combines improved fuel efficiency with off-road capability.
The event in Dearborn is part of a nine-city marketing blitz to launch the Explorer that Ford is coordinating with pictures, video and information on social networking site Facebook and YouTube.com.
Christy Lester, who has worked in Ford’s accounting department for 10 years, said she watched the unveiling of the Explorer on YouTube before attending the employee event today.
“I think it is a beautiful vehicle,” said Lester, of West Bloomfield, who has two children. “I am looking forward to actually buying one myself.”
The 2011 Explorer is expected to be in dealer showrooms by the end of the year. Ford is marketing the 2011 Explorer as a fuel-efficient SUV that is capable of fulfilling the needs of most families.
Ford executives said today that the 2011 Explorer will get 30% better fuel efficiency than the outgoing model with a turbocharged EcoBoost engine and 25% better fuel economy with a standard V6 engine.
“I think we will sell three or four as many Explorers as we do now,” said Bob Faust, general manager of Jack Demmer Ford in Wayne. “It’s an all-new design No. 1, and Explorer has needed a new design for a while.”