As it announced it would earlier this year, Ford has ceased production of the giant Excursion SUV. The last models rolled off the assembly line in Louisville on Friday.
The Excursion, based on the Super Duty commercial pickup truck, was given the green light in 1997 and made its debut in 1999. Ford sold more than 50,000 in the first year, but sales dropped steadily since then. Some 11,843 Excursions have sold this year through the end of August, compared to 12,914 during the same period last year.
The Excursion was never able to threaten the Chevrolet Suburban, the sales of which grew in 2001 while the Excursion began to falter and then maintained approximately a 100,000 vehicle per year lead even while sales of both began to decline in 2002.
The Louisville plant also assembles the Super Duty, so presumably production capacity now will flow over to that model.
The over-the-top Excursion, with its V-10 engine, 44-gallon tank, four-ton weight and fuel economy bumping along in the low teens may have been the vehicle that finally focused the attention of environmental groups on the rapid proliferation of SUVs in the US and their less stringent regulation compared to cars.
The Sierra club launched a contest on the Internet to name the Excursion, and in 1999, announced the winner:“The Ford Valdez—Have You Driven a Tanker Lately?”
The cancellation—which was made for a basic business reason (sales were tanking)—comes at a time when Ford is becoming much more vocal about fuel efficiency. Losing the Excursion is good business, and good PR.
(A hat-tip to Mike and Treehugger!)