Ford to put Explorer Sport Trac on hiatus while automaker redesigns vehicle
AMY WILSON | Automotive News
(Photo) Charles V. Tines / The Detroit News
DETROIT - Production of the Ford Explorer Sport Trac will halt for seven months starting in late June as Ford redesigns the model.
The Sport Trac, an Explorer-based SUV with a pickup bed, will go back into production as a 2007 model around Feb. 1 at Ford's Louisville, Ky., assembly plant. The hiatus means there will be no 2006 model year for the Sport Trac.
Ford is shutting down Sport Trac production so it can launch a re-engineered 2006 Explorer and Mercury Mountaineer later this summer.
The Sport Trac will migrate to the updated Explorer platform when it returns in 2006.
Until the planned break, Ford will try to boost inventories by shifting some additional production capacity to the Sport Trac, which is holding onto sales better than its bigger SUV siblings, Ford spokesman Dan Bedore said. But because of limited parts availability and scheduled downtime at the Louisville plant, the added production won't be enough to keep Sport Trac sales from trailing off sharply this year.
Ford won't break out exact numbers, but the company says Sport Trac sales rose by 20 percent in March and were flat for the first quarter as a whole. By contrast, total Explorer sales plunged by 25.1 percent in the first quarter. Ford sells about 60,000 Sport Tracs annually.
The 2007 Sport Trac will get a V-8 engine for the first time. It will continue to offer a base V-6 engine.
A concept displayed at the 2005 Detroit auto show hints at the brawnier styling coming for the redesigned truck. A new interior, independent rear suspension and a six-speed automatic transmission also are on tap.
Ford already is planning a high-performance version of the truck developed by its Special Vehicle Team. The Ford Sport Trac Adrena-lin is expected to go on sale in 2007.