Ford is making a hybrid Explorer SUV

Ford is adding a hybrid Explorer to the mix, the first time the popular SUV has been offered with any kind of electrification.

The automaker unveiled Monday the Explorer hybrid as well as a new Explorer ST at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. The reveal followed the debut last week of the 2020 Explorer, a re-crafted model that has a new platform and is loaded with technology. The final assembly for the entire Explorer lineup will be at the Ford Chicago Assembly plant. The Explorer hybrid will be manufactured at the Lima engine plant in Ohio.

The new Explorer hybrid, which will hit dealerships in summer, features a 3.3-liter hybrid powertrain that Ford projects will produce 318 horsepower combined. The company said it’s targeting a range of more than 500 miles between gas station fill-ups in the rear-wheel-drive model.

The hybrid SUV has new10-speed modular hybrid transmission and  liquid-cooled, lithium-ion battery built into the Explorer chassis below the second-row seats. This new configuration preserves cargo and passenger space, unlike previous hybrid vehicles, Ford said.

“Lost cargo space in hybrids is a thing of the past for Ford customers,” said Bill Gubing, Explorer chief engineer.

Ford’s unveiling follows a strategic roadmap developed last year that will place an emphasis on SUVs and hybrids. Or hybrid SUVs.

Ford estimated in March that SUVs could represent half of the U.S. retail market by 2020. The company said at the time that it planned to bring high-performance SUVs to the market, including five with hybrid powertrains and one fully battery electric model.

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