New Ford Explorer coming soon, adding jobs

By Julie Wernau
Posted July 22, 2010 at 12:38 p.m.

The new Ford Explorer is set to be revealed Monday in Millennium Park at an event where Ford executives are expected to tout the new jobs the vehicle’s production will bring to the Chicago area.

The new vehicle will be produced in the company’s South Side assembly plant, bringing 1,200 jobs and essentially doubling the workforce at the plant by adding a second shift. In addition, more than 100 companies in 23 states are ramping up to produce parts and components for the new Explorer.

Locally, Chicago-based ZF Lemforder, which will supply chassis modules, will add a second shift and 83 jobs. Dakkota Integrated Systems, which will supply fascia and headliners, is adding a second shift, expanding their facility and adding 55 jobs in Chicago. Lear Corporation’s, which will supply seats, will add 285 jobs at their Hammond, Ind. plant.

Ford’s unveiling is scheduled to take place Monday at 10:30 a.m. at Millenium Park, at Chase Promenade South, near the intersection of Michigan Ave. and Monroe Street and is open to the public. Several Ford executives are scheduled to attend, along with Chicago area Ford dealers and Governor Pat Quinn.

The move represents a $400 million investment by Ford, which is counting on the vehicle to “redefine how Americans thinks about SUVs” — with 30 percent better fuel economy, inflatable seatbelts and other technological advances. The vehicle’s fuel economy comes from the lighter weight materials Ford is using throughout the vehicle, as well as updated engine controls.

Other features include: Electric power-assisted steering, battery management, fast-engine warm-up, a pair of six-speed transmissions and the Eco-boost I-4 engine, which pairs a turbocharger with direct gasoline injection.

The vehicle is slated for sale this winter, Ford said, and will be exported to more than 90 countries.

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