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Ford donates leftover leather to Detroit companies that employ veterans, abuse survivors

Two local businesses with charitable aims received deliveries of the hides.

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Ford's campus of the future will eliminate the need for Ford to continue to be spread out in 90 separate buildings in the Detroit area. Before building can begin, the company's product development center has to ready for demolition. That means removing machinery (new and old), finding new homes for old prototypes, and cleaning out the basement.

Some of the products are going to new homes where they'll see new life. Recently, workers stumbled upon $100,000 worth of leather hides. The assortment, according to Ford, was allocated for use by the color and materials design and fabrication teams to create interior prototypes for vehicles including the Ford Escape and Ford Explorer. Some of the materials are more premium than others and belong to Ford F-150 King Ranch and Lincoln Black Label Navigator models. They are colored in Ebony, Cashmere, and King Ranch Red, among other colors.

Ford leather donation The basement of Ford's design facility housed a number of leftover hides.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Ford leather donation

Traditionally, when color and materials designers order leather hides to build seat and interior prototypes, they order extra for trim, seat patterning and creative exploration. Extra hides are needed in case mistakes occur or new ideas are explored, so often there is a small surplus left over.

Instead of chucking them, Ford has decided to donate the hides to two Detroit businesses.

"This is a unique situation where we are able to donate bundles of real, automotive-grade premium leather to small businesses in Detroit," said Jim Conner, 3D process director. "We're excited to see these leather hides that were collecting dust in the basement be put to good use by impactful businesses in the community."

Ford Fund, the philanthropic arm of Ford, identified two small businesses that would benefit from the hide donation - Pingree Detroit and Mend on the Move. Pingree Detroit is a worker-owned, social impact company founded in 2015 that uses high-quality leather reclaimed from the Detroit auto industry to make boots, wallets and drink coasters. The company employs veterans and Detroiters to help them earn a living wage and learn skilled trades. Mend on the Move is a nonprofit social enterprise that employs women survivors of abuse in Metro Detroit. The women earn an income creating jewelry and leather goods to help promote independence and healing.

"As an emerging worker-owned design and manufacturing cooperative born and raised in Detroit, relationships continue to be our strongest currency," said Jarret Schlaff, co-founder and CEO of Pingree Detroit. "This donation and the ongoing support by Ford make all the difference for our team of veterans and Detroiters as we work to create products and solutions that make our neighborhoods stronger."

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Ford dealerships will be adding Bronco showrooms to their portfolio in the coming year.

Photo courtesy of Ford via Automotive News

Reporting by Automotive News reveals that Ford is enabling its dealership network to opt-in to build Bronco-specific showrooms. The stores are designed to be near or connected to existing Ford dealer locations, but will feature the Bronco horse logo rather than the traditional Ford Blue Oval.

Ford currently has two Bronco models: Bronco and Bronco Sport. All this for two models? Not quite. Ford is reportedly working on a Bronco-based pickup truck. Could it be Ranger Raptor-like? We'll have to wait and see.

Renderings of Bronco storefronts feature those models and vintage versions of the beloved off-roader alongside 3,800 square feet of building space that includes an outdoor fire pit and room to display three vehicles. There's also a wall that showcases Bronco merchandise including some of the over 200 accessories Ford is promising will be available for Bronco models.

Ford Bronco standalone showroom renderings

Photo courtesy of Ford via Automotive News

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The overall aesthetic is very much in line with what you'll see at your local REI. There's back-painted ceiling lining, exposed concrete, a gray stone entryway, and wood accents throughout the modern structure as well as plenty of windows that show it all off.

Dealers are able to modify the design that Ford has come up with. One dealer, in Arizona, told Automotive News that he is planning to build out a 12,000-square-foot space but hasn't included a fire pit in the plans because of the location's desert climate.

If dealerships don't opt for a separate showroom, dealerships can choose from other Ford-backed options to display the Bronco that are more traditional in nature. Andrew Frick, the head of Ford sales in the U.S. said that there are three options: a standalone showroom, an expansion of existing showrooms or displays that can be added to a showroom. All the options are available and recommended, but not required, kind of like the Sasquatch Package on the Bronco itself.

"It's an announcement to the world we're back; the Bronco is back," Tim Hovik, owner of San Tan Ford in Gilbert, Ariz., and chairman of Ford's national dealer council, told Automotive News. "It's such an iconic product that in an absolute way, we feel a Ford dealer is really adding almost an additional franchise."

Last month, Ford revealed that of its 190,000 reservations for either the two- or four-door Bronco, two-thirds of those have turned into firm orders. Deliveries of the redesigned Bronco are slated to begin in June. Early models are already making their way out onto the streets under the car of Ford employees.

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The 2021 Ford Explorer Enthusiast ST gives buyers more performance at a lower price.

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

The Explorer lineup is getting a three-model enhancement for the 2021 model year. The Explorer Enthusiast ST, Platinum, and Platinum Hybrid will be making their way to dealership lots later this year in a targeted attempt to identify customer desires.

The new models join the just-announced 2021 Ford Explorer King Ranch, also a new addition.

2021 Ford Explorer Enthusiast ST

The Enthusiast ST grade takes a lot of what customers like about the existing Explorer ST and delivers it at a far cheaper price. The Enthusiast ST has a starting MSRP of $48,750 as opposed to the ST, which starts at $52,830.

Setting it apart from there Explorers is the Enthusiast ST's quad chrome exhaust tips, 20-inch machined aluminum wheels with painted pockets, and sideview mirrors with ST projection lamps.

The new model comes equipped with the same 3.0-liter EcoBoost engine that's in the Explorer ST that churns out 400 horsepower and 415 pound-feet of torque. A 10-speed automatic transmission completes the powertrain.

Ford has given the model a sport-tuned suspension and a top track speed of 143 mph. A standard Class III Trailer Tow Package provides towing capability of up to 5,600 pounds.

The cabin of the Enthusiast ST is complete with leather seating surfaces, unique Miko micro-perforated inserts, and City Silver accent stitching with the ST logo. There's a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, heated sport-style steering wheel with the ST logo, and paddle shifters.

The Explorer Enthusiast ST also features standard Ford Co-Pilot360 technology.

2021 Ford Explorer Platinum

2021 Ford Explorer Plat Ford has two new Platinum models coming to a dealership near you.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

2021 Ford Explorer Plat

The new Explorer Platinum is powered by a 3.0-liter engine and comes standard with rear-wheel drive. Four-when drive is available.

To make the Platinum version worthy of its upscale price tag, its packaging includes door handles with satin aluminum insert, liftgate appliqué, lower bodyside cladding insert, roof-rack side rails, a twin-panel moonroof, and a unique grille with satin aluminum finish. Its cabin is fitted with leather seats, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel, dashboard, door rollovers, and door and front console armrests.

The 2021 Ford Explorer Platinum has a starting MSRP of $52,480. The hybrid version of that model starts at $53,085.

All the models are currently available for order via Ford dealerships. Deliveries are expected to begin this summer.

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