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Region-made Explorer sales plunge by 17.8 percent in October

Explorer sales fell 17.8 percent in October.

Sales of the Calumet Region-made Ford Explorer SUV plummeted by 17.8 percent in November.

Ford's overall sales last month dropped by 6.9 percent to 196,303 units. For the year, Ford and Lincoln sales are down 2.7 percent to 2.18 million units.

The automaker reported that retail sales were down 6.8 percent in November while fleet sales fell by 7.1 percent. Transaction prices grew by $1,600 in November, reaching a record high of $37,000, which is $3,600 more than the industry average.

That's largely because of the company's shift to higher-value, higher-margin pickup trucks and SUVs, a strategy that GM is now copying with Japanese automakers and electric vehicle-makers cornering the sedan market.

“F-Series marked a record nine straight months topping the 70,000 truck mark, a consistent performance by a high volume, high margin product unmatched in the industry," said Mark LaNeve, Ford vice president, U.S. Marketing, Sales and Service. "Sales of our all-new Expedition and Transit Connect continue to grow, as does our mix of trucks, SUVs and vans. This mix totaled 82 percent in November boosting our transaction pricing to a new record of $37,000 per vehicle.”

Locally, Ford makes the Explorer, the Taurus, the Police Interceptor Utility and the Police Interceptor Sedan at the Chicago Assembly Plant in Hegewisch, which borders Hammond. The Taurus and Police Interceptor Sedan will be phased out next year and replaced with the Lincoln Aviator, as the automaker shifts its focus from cars to more lucrative trucks and SUVs.

In November, Ford sold 17,696 Explorers, as compared to 21,520 in November 2017. The SUV accounts for most of the production at the sprawling 2.8 million-square-foot Ford plant, which is serviced by local suppliers such as the Lear Corp. seat factory in Hammond.

Explorer sales are down by 2.1 percent so far this year to 208,146 units through the first 11 months of the year, down from 212,681 during the same period in 2017.

Sales of the Taurus rose by 4.7 percent to 2,247 units in November, up from 2,146 units in November 2017, but Taurus sales are down by 15 percent for the year. Sales of the Police Interceptor Sedan, a souped-up version of the Taurus, fell by 23.4 percent last month, while the Police Interceptor Utility posted a 7.2 percent gain to 2,777 units sold in November.

Ford employs more than 5,000 workers at the Chicago Assembly Plant and at the Chicago Stamping Plant in Chicago Heights. 

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Business Reporter

Joseph S. Pete is a Lisagor Award-winning business reporter who covers steel, industry, unions, the ports, retail, banking and more. The Indiana University grad has been with The Times since 2013 and blogs about craft beer, culture and the military.