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New Explorer to be made at Chicago Assembly Plant to be unveiled on Jan. 9

The Ford Explorer is inspected by attendees on Media Day at the 2017 Chicago Auto Show. It is made at the Ford plant in Hegewisch, which will start producing a new model of the Explorer this year.

Ford plans to unveil its new 2020 Explorer Sports Utility Vehicle that will be manufactured in the Calumet Region in a special event on Jan. 9, just before the Detroit Auto Show when many new vehicle models are debuted to the press.

The Dearborn, Michigan-based automaker will reveal the new Explorer model that will be made at the Chicago Assembly Plant in Hegewisch to the gathered international automotive media at Ford Field in downtown Detroit.

"Explorer is the all-time best-selling SUV in America," Ford said in an invitation to the media. "Almost 8 million have made their way into driveways and trails across the U.S. This sixth-generation of the Ford Explorer is our most advanced and adventure-ready version ever."

Industry observer Autoblog reported that the latest model of the Explorer will use the same rear-wheel-drive platform as the new Lincoln Aviator and offer a choice of different engines, "likely including the same turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 that performed so well in the Michigan State Police's performance tests."

The newest Explorer model will be produced at the 2.8-million-square-foot Chicago Assembly Plant at 12600 S. Torrence Ave. in Hegewish, on a sprawling 113-acre campus on the banks of the Calumet River. Ford employs 4,020 workers, many from Northwest Indiana, at the 94-year-old factory. and another 1,270 workers at the Chicago Stamping Plant in south suburban Chicago Heights. The just-in-time factories also support  local automotive suppliers, including the Lear seat factories in Hammond and Portage.

The Chicago Assembly Plant also makes the Police Interceptor Utility and will start making the Lincoln Aviator soon, but the Explorer — long one of the country's best-selling midsized SUVS — is far and away its largest product by volume to roll off the assembly line there.

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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.