Sales of the Calumet Region-made Ford Explorer SUV slowed by 1.9 percent year-over-year as Ford's overall sales plunged by 6.6 percent, as compared to January 2017.
The Dearborn, Michigan-based automaker's January sales totaled 161,143, which included a 4.3 percent decline in retail sales and a 12 percent drop in fleet sales.
“U.S. economic factors are very healthy and we’re seeing the effect in the auto industry — not just in strong demand for SUVs and pickups, but in demand for high trim versions of vehicles," said Mark LaNeve, Ford's vice president of U.S. marketing, sales and service. "Our all-new Expedition and Navigator are off to a hot start across the country; Platinum Expedition and high series Reserve and Black Label versions of Navigator are in high demand.”
Locally, Ford makes the Explorer, the Taurus, the Police Interceptor Utility and the Police Interceptor Sedan at the Chicago Assembly Plant just across the state line in Hegewisch, which borders Hammond.
In January, Ford sold 15,005 Explorers, as compared to 15,294 in January 2017. The SUV accounts for most of the production at the sprawling 2.8 million-square-foot Ford plant on the Calumet River, which is serviced by local suppliers such as the Lear Corp. seat factory in Hammond.
Taurus sales declined by 9.5 percent to 2,548 units in January, down from 2,814 units in January 2017.
Ford employs more than 5,000 workers at the Chicago Assembly Plant and at the Chicago Stamping Plant in Chicago Heights.