Ford Motor Co. is considering offering a plug-in hybrid version of its popular Explorer SUV.
Trucks.com’s spy photographer captured photos of the rechargeable Explorer undergoing tests near the automaker’s headquarters in Dearborn, Mich. The photos show a charging port on the front driver’s side body panel of the SUV.
Ford has a launched a broad program to push electrification of its vehicles. The company plans to offer a hybrid version of the redesigned 2020 Explorer when it goes on sale late this year. It has not talked about a plug-in version, which would travel a small number of miles on just electric power before a gas engine kicks in and takes over running the vehicle.
Ford Explorer plug-in hybrid charging port. (Photo: Brian Williams/ For Trucks.com)
However, the automaker has the technology to produce a plug-in Explorer. It’s luxury Lincoln division introduced a plug-in version of its Aviator SUV at the Los Angeles Auto Show late last year. The Explorer and Aviator are sibling vehicles.
In the plug-in Aviator, batteries are packaged under the floor to enhance driving dynamics and preserve cargo space. It can be fully charged in 3-4 hours on a standard cord and goes on sale later this year, Ford said. It will come in the top Grand Touring trim and have a twin-turbocharged engine that produces up to 450 horsepower and 600 pound-feet of torque. Ford has not said what the electric range will be, but vehicles of that size rarely top 30 miles on battery power before the gas engine takes over.
Ford unveiled the sixth generation of the Explorer at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit in January, showing a range of models that included a conventional hybrid and a high-powered performance version.
The standard engine in the 2020 Explorer will be Ford’s 2.3-liter turbocharged EcoBoost four-cylinder engine. It will deliver up to 300 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque. There’s also an optional 3-liter turbocharged EcoBoost V6 projected to produce 365 horsepower and 380 pound-feet of torque when using 93-octane gas. That would make it the most powerful Explorer ever