When Ford Motor Co. starts selling its re-engineered Explorer sport-utility vehicle, it will ask U.S. buyers to do something unusual: Pay more for less.
Bucking an automotive tradition of charging extra for more horsepower, Ford will ask buyers of its redesigned 2011 Explorer to pay a premium for a small, 4-cylinder engine when the vehicle goes on sale in December.
The Explorer’s standard engine will be a 3.5-liter V-6 with 290 horsepower, 53 more ponies than the optional 4-cylinder.
Ford began trying to convince consumers they should spend to save when it unveiled the Explorer at events in New York, Chicago and other locations today.
The smaller engine has technology Ford said will give the seven-passenger SUV the same fuel economy as Toyota Motor Corp.’s Camry sedan that gets 19 mpg in city driving and 26 mpg on the highway. That’s more than 30 percent better than the 2010 Explorer.
“We really want to make a statement that the old baggage on fuel economy with the Explorer is gone,” Jim Holland, the Explorer’s chief engineer, said in an interview. “To get great fuel economy it takes technology, and it’s our view that people will pay for that.”
The second-largest U.S. automaker will be challenged to command a premium for the more efficient engine because U.S. gasoline prices have fallen 34 percent from their peak of $4.11 per gallon two years ago, said Jim Hall, principal of automotive consulting firm 2953 Analytics in Birmingham, Michigan.
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