Based on their own market research, Ford expected the 2011 Explorer to be a huge sales success. It was what the Explorer buyers in their focus groups asked for, despite the fact that critics bemoan its loss of hardcore off-road capability and heavy-duty towing capacity. Ford appears to have guessed right, since they’ve taken roughly double the number of orders expected so far. To date, dealers have ordered some 7,500 units, consumers have ordered some 3,000 copies and corporate buyers have sent in POs for some 4,500 units. Total the orders, and that sum of 15,000 is twice the 7,500 that Ford expected prior to launch.
The majority of buyers are ordering the towing package (55%) and all wheel drive (64%). Ford is making an effort to demonstrate that the Explorer still has off-road chops, so I’ll be heading to San Diego this weekend to drive it both on-road and off-road. I can’t tell you about it until after December 13, but I promise to give you a full report on what the Explorer can and cannot handle when the going gets rough. Look for the 2011 Ford Explorer to start appearing on dealer lots in early 2011.