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EXPLORING A PHENOMENON

 DEARBORN, Mich., March 15 /PRNewswire/ -- One Texan traded his 1992 BMW 525i for one, while another traded in his Porche 911. Women love buying it. It's only three years old, yet appeals to people of all ages. It's a product that sells like crazy without incentives -- in an industry where big-buck rebates are often the norm.
 We're talking, of course, of the Ford Explorer, the wonder truck celebrating its third birthday today.
 How did this "new kid on the block" rise to the top of the highly competitive compact sport utility market segment to become the number one best seller in a matter of months?
 Explorer is the type of vehicle that does everything well, if not just one thing spectacularly. Explorer is sort of like the MVP of major league baseball -- it won't hit just for power, but will lead the league in RBIs, stolen bases, hits and batting average.
 But versatility is only part of it. Explorer is in a market that only 10 years ago was less than 250,000 vehicles in the United States. Last year, the segment had expanded to almost 1 million -- thanks, in great part, to the Explorer and its 31.2-percent share of the segment.
 "In a nutshell, Explorer delivers what owners want," said Leo Shedden, a senior engineer on the Explorer program at Ford. "Explorer is so versatile you can carry cargo, tow a trailer, or venture off the beaten path. Yet you can feel just as much at home pulling up to valet parking in your Explorer at your favorite five-star restaurant or country club."
 When Explorer customers were surveyed to find out why they bought their vehicles, they listed a number of reasons that led to outstanding satisfaction levels. On a 1-10 scale, the overall satisfaction rate of the Explorer was an impressive 8.2, versus a truck-industry average of 7.7. Even more impressive, 91 percent of Explorer buyers said they were completely or very satisfied with the vehicle (compared with a total truck-industry average of 81 percent) and 82 percent said they would recommend it to their friends.
 But the survey measured much more. Eight other categories were measured (interior roominess, styling, quality, power and pickup, quality, good running engine/transmission, riding comfort and ease of handling) and Explorer beat the segment average in seven categories and tied in the eighth ("good running engine/transmission").
 Other reasons given by survey respondents for the success of the Explorer were its "versatility and flexibility," "sporty looks," "fun to drive," "sensible and practical, yet tough and rugged," and "it's the leader in its market class."
 Explorer success has put it firmly in the Top Ten list of best- selling vehicles in America (number five in 1992), and was Ford's best- selling vehicle in California -- even outpacing the hot-selling Taurus.
 "When Explorer went on sale exactly three years ago, who could have imagined in their wildest dreams what a huge hit the vehicle would be," Shedden said. "Instantly, it seems, it redefined the entire sport utility market."
 Today's sport utility vehicle owner is using the vehicle not only for trailer towing, hauling and off-road use, but more and more for simple shopping and errand use, pleasure driving and commuting. Women in particular appreciate the added security of pushbutton four-wheel- drive and the ability to carry up to five children and their sports equipment with ease
 Because of this new definition on the sport utility vehicle, Ford introduced its Explorer Limited today to magazine writers from across the country. "Folks today who buy the top-of-the-line sport utilities want and expect a good ride," Shedden explained. "I feel the Explorer Limited will give them this and more. It's going to be a vehicle that people will want to drive and be seen in."
 The Limited will reinforce Explorer's momentum in the market by exceeding customers' expectations of what "comfort" means in a compact utility vehicle, furthering a market phenomenon that has seen Explorer take the automotive industry by storm like no other truck before it.
 -0- 3/15/93
 /CONTACT: Jim Trainor of Ford, 313-594-1700/
 (F)


CO: Ford Motor Company ST: Michigan IN: AUT SU: PDT

KE -- DE006 -- 5925 03/15/93 10:03 EST
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Date:Mar 15, 1993
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