First Ford Explorer Built Outside US Rolls Off the Assembly Line Today in Russia image

The first Explorer to be built outside the US will roll off the assembly line today at the Elabuga Assembly Plant in Russia.

In 1990 Ford introduced the Explorer mid-size SUV in the US, a model which is exported to 64 countries. Beginning today, the model will be manufactured in Tatarstan, Russia, as demand for the Explorer in this market made the company decide to add global production.

“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, Ford’s joint venture in Russia, in a statement.

Last year SUV sales in Russia accounted for 31% of the market, according to AUTOSTAT market research agency. Russia is the perfect market for the sport utility vehicles due to its extreme weather and terrain. Ford will build the Explorer at the Elabuga Assembly Plant exclusively for the Russian market, but the Chicago plant will continue manufacturing the model for more than 60 countries, including Canada, Mexico and Saudi Arabia.

In 2012 exports of the Explorer were up almost 65% to 24,000 units, from which 400 sold in Russia. Since the model was introduced in the US, Ford sold almost 7 million Explorers in this region.