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Region-made Explorer sales soar by 19.2 percent for best August in 14 years

Sales of the Calumet Region-made Ford Explorer SUV surged by 19.2 percent last month.

Sales of the Calumet Region-made Ford Explorer SUV surged by 19.2 percent in August, the best August for Explorer sales in 14 years with 21,599 vehicles sold.

"Ford SUVs turned in double-digit gains last month," the Dearborn-based automaker said in a news release. "Both (Expedition and Explorer) vehicles along with the all-new EcoSport are big growth drivers."

Ford's overall sales last month rose 4.1 percent to 218,504 units. For the year, Ford and Lincoln sales are down 1.2 percent to 1.69 million units through the first eight months of 2017.

The automaker reported that retail sales were up 1.1 percent in August while fleet sales rose by 15 percent. Transaction prices grew by $1,400, more than twice the rate of the industry average.

"Ford brand SUVs were up 21 percent in August. With greater production output and stronger stock positions, our two newest products had a terrific August," said Mark LaNeve, Ford vice president of U.S. Marketing, Sales and Service. "Sales of our all-new Expedition were up a strong 95 percent. Right now, the hottest vehicle in America is our all-new Lincoln Navigator, which saw sales expand by more than 100 percent in August.” 

Overall, Ford and Lincoln SUV sales are up 1.6 percent this year after the strong sales in August.

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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. 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 August, Ford sold 21,599 Explorers, as compared to 18,763 in August 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 1.7 percent so far this year to 152,647 units through the first eight months of the year.

Sales of the Taurus rose by 4.8 percent to 2,284 units in August, up from 2,179 units in August 2017, though Taurus sales are down by 16.8 percent for the year, its last year of production in the U.S. for the foreseeable future, possibly forever. Sales of the Police Interceptor sedan, a souped-up version of the Taurus, rose by 3.9 percent last month, while the Police Interceptor utility SUV recorded a 7.1 percent drop to 2,539 units sold in August.

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.