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Explorer sales plunge 37.6% after plant shutdown for retooling

Workers are shown at Ford's Chicago Assembly Plant in Hegewisch. The plant was closed in March for a retooling.

Ford shut down the Chicago Assembly Plant in Hegewisch for the entire month of March for an extensive $1 billion retooling that included 600 new industrial robots so it could make brand new 2020 vehicles.

As one would imagine, the shutdown resulted in a big drop in the second-quarter sales of the vehicles made at the 2.8 million-square-foot automotive plant on the banks of the Calumet River, where many Northwest Indiana and south suburban residents work.

Sales of the factory's flagship Ford Explorer plunged 37.6% from 56,674 units in the second quarter of 2018 to 35,374 units in the comparable period this year. Sales of the Police Interceptor Utility that's modeled on the Ford Explorer dropped 50.9% to 4,527 units during the three-month period from April to June.

Sales of the Taurus dropped 47.7% to 2,390 in its last quarter of production in the United States, at least for the foreseeable future. Sales of the Police Interceptor Sedan that's basically a souped-up Taurus plummeted 54.2% to 972 as it was phased out.

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Overall, Ford vehicle sales fell 4% to 650,336 units in the second quarter, the Dearborn, Michigan-based automaker reported. Pickup trucks and Sport Utility Vehicles accounted for 83% of its sales as it shifted production of most cars to Mexico to focus on higher-priced, higher-margin vehicles.

“In a very competitive market, we grew our total pickup segment share in Q2, and we have extended F-Series’ leadership this year and now with the Ranger introduction we have further broadened America’s best-selling lineup," said Mark LaNeve, a Ford vice president. "We also began selling our all-new Explorer at the end of the quarter. With the Explorer and the all-new Escape coming soon, we are on track to have the freshest SUV lineup in the industry by year’s end."

In the first six months of the year, Explorer sales fell 20% to 88,680 units. Police Interceptor Utility sales dropped 26.6% to 13,143 units.

Taurus sales plummeted by 69.7% year-over-year to 2,390 units before the production at the Chicago Assembly Plant ceased in March, while Police Interceptor Sedan sales fell by 47.7%.

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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.