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FORD DEALERS WANT MORE EXPLORERS

 DEARBORN, Mich., April 28 /PRNewswire/ -- "Boy, we sure could use that second plant right now!", said Ross Roberts, Ford vice president and general manager of Ford Division. That was his reaction on learning how many Explorers Ford dealers would be ordering for production during the 1993 model "balance-out." Last week's survey by his Field Operations group ascertained their needs to be more than twice the capacity of Ford's Louisville Assembly Plant, presently the sole source of America's favorite sport utility vehicle. (By "that second plant," Mr. Roberts was referencing Ford's recent announcement that in early 1995, its St. Louis Assembly Plant will join the Louisville facility in producing Explorers.)
 No single sales competitor comes close to challenging Explorer as America's favorite utility vehicle. Ever since early 1990, Louisville has operated on a maximum overtime schedule, yet demand has continued to outstrip supply. Last year, record U.S. Explorer sales approached 307,000 units, up 56,000 (or 22 percent) over 1991. The quarterly sales increase during October-December, following the introduction of the 1993 models, was so strong that dealer stocks became critically low. At year-end, dealers had 20,000 (or 38 percent) fewer units on hand than at the beginning of the year. Hence, they had only a 33 days supply, down from 57 days a year earlier. (The seasonal industry norm is around 70 days.)
 Despite the depleted inventories, Explorer volume for the first half of the 1993 model year was ahead by 6 percent versus a year ago. Notably, during the First Quarter of 1993, sales as a percent of availability -- a much more meaningful yardstick of demand than absolute volume when a vehicle is in short supply -- were six percentage points higher than during the same period of 1992. As of March 31, dealer stocks of Explorer still were only about 38,000 units (or a 42 days supply) versus 53,000 (or 54 days) a year ago. (By the way, Ford estimates that some of its principal rivals have substantially higher days supplies.)
 There's no doubt in the mind of Ross Roberts that constrained availability led to the slight (7 percent) decline in Explorer sales for the First Quarter. He recently concluded a series of nationwide dealer meetings. "Wherever we went, all across the country," Mr. Roberts related, "the message was the same: 'We need more Explorers. Send us more and we can sell more.'"
 Obviously, Ford regrets not being able to supply its dealers in the near-term with enough Explorers to accommodate all of their prospective customers. In the more than three years since its public introduction (on March 15, 1990), Explorer never has needed any retail incentives and clearly, under present circumstances, none are contemplated.
 -0- 4/28/93
 /CONTACT: Joel Pitcoff, NAAO Research & Analysis Manager, Ford Motor Company, 313-337-3753/
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CO: Ford Motor Company ST: Michigan IN: AUT SU:

DH -- DE018 -- 2002 04/28/93 12:02 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Apr 28, 1993
Words:485
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