The Ford Explorer is, for the first time, being produced outside of the U.S. with production beginning at the Ford Sollers plant in the Republic of Tatarstan to be sold to the Russian market.  Sales of the Explorer, which took many awards and accolades this year, are up globally and U.S. production rates were nearing their maximum as exports to 64 countries began to max out capacities.

The first non-U.S., full-production Explorer SUV rolled off the assembly line at the Ford Sollers Elabuga Assembly Plant on Thursday.

“Russia is on its way to being the largest market in Europe and presents an enormous opportunity for growth,” said Ted Cannis, president and CEO of Ford Sollers. “We anticipate SUV sales to continue to grow as Russian customers prefer the image and performance these utility vehicles provide in severe weather and challenging road conditions.”

Until production began in Russia, only knock-down assembly of parts imported mainly from Ford’s Chicago facility, where the SUVs are made in the U.S.A., were done outside of the States.  The addition of the Russian plant was thanks in part to Ford’s new Ford Production System, which began rolling out to plants globally in 2012,  emphasizing flexibility in the production process and pushing for full-capacity usage to minimize idle losses.

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An automotive enthusiast for most of his adult life, Aaron has worked in and around the industry in many ways. He is an accredited member of the Rocky Mountain Automotive Press (RMAP) and freelances as a writer and journalist around the Web and in print. You can find his portfolio at AaronOnAutos.com.

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