The Lincoln Aviator will be replaced with a car-based SUV.
Ford to dump Aviator, Excursion; automaker to cease production after '05 model year
AMY WILSON | Automotive News
DETROIT -- Ford Motor Co. will kill two of its priciest SUVs after the 2005 model year.
Production of the Ford Excursion, the automaker's biggest SUV, is expected to end in September, according to an internal Ford document.
A supplier source also confirmed the vehicle will be dropped from the lineup next year.
Lincoln Aviator production will end in July, according to the Ford document. Lincoln will revive the nameplate with a car-based SUV in 2006.
The St. Louis assembly plant that produces the Aviator and its sister Ford Explorer and Mercury Mountaineer SUVs is dropping one of its two shifts in January.
Ford officials refused to comment on the demise of the two vehicles.
But the end of the Excursion and Aviator is not surprising.
The demise of the Ford Excursion comes as the automaker seeks production capacity for the F-250 and F-350 platforms.
Ford once said it would drop the fuel-hungry Excursion, a frequent target of environmentalists, after the 2004 model year.
But Ford Division President Steve Lyons this year said that production would continue through at least the 2005 model year.
The decision to end Excursion production comes as Ford seeks production capacity for its F-250 and F-350 Super Duty pickups, a Ford source says. Those pickups and the Excursion are assembled at the same plant in Louisville, Ky.
Also, Ford plans to introduce an extended version of its Expedition SUV during the 2007 model year.
Ford is scheduled to produce 15,277 Excursions in 2005, the internal document said.
Lincoln's Aviator nameplate will return. But Lincoln dealers face a year-long gap without a mid-sized SUV or crossover.
Ford will introduce a next-generation Aviator in fall 2006. It will be derived from a modified Mazda6 car platform. The vehicle is expected to be built at Ford's Oakville, Ontario, assembly plant.
The truck-based Aviator hasn't met sales targets since it was introduced in late 2002. The Ford document said the company plans to produce 12,582 Aviators in 2005.