Ford Motor Co. plans to phase out production of the Ford Excursion, the big, bold sport-utility vehicle that became the poster child for environmentally unfriendly vehicles.
Ford will stop production of the 19-foot SUV possibly after the 2004 model year, company and industry sources said.
Ford spokeswoman Sara Tatchio said the Excursion, which is assembled at the Kentucky truck plant in Louisville, would be available in a 2003 model but declined comment on its future.
The gas guzzler, once dubbed the "Ford Valdez" by the Sierra Club, was designed to rival the Chevrolet Suburban. Demand has slowed, however, since its introduction in 1999.
So far this year, Ford has sold 15,107 Excursions, down 16 percent from the same period in 2001. By comparison, Chevy has sold 66,882 Suburbans in 2002.
One product expert believes Ford will build a new "Suburban fighter" within a few years.
"They are going to kill the Excursion," said Dean Benjamin, president of AutoSource Inc. in El Segundo, Calif. "They'll build something off the Expedition line that will be sized more appropriately."