Not for the faint of heart – Ford, to really hit home its adventurous “explorers are never done” concept, placed an Explorer Plug-In Hybrid atop Norway’s 47-meter (145-foot) OVER climbing tower and invited Norway climbers to compete to win a free, two-year lease on the car.
The competition, coined as the Explore New Heights challenge, was “designed to celebrate the spirit of adventure and determination that drivers Ford’s active lifestyle customers,” the automaker says in its press release.
The OVER tower, located in Lillesand, in southern Norway, opened in June. It stands almost 14 stories tall, so high that you can see across Skagerrak to neighboring Denmark.
Ford worked with OVER to create a special platform to secure the Explore on top of the tower’s overhang.
“The project took six months of planning, including detailed investigation by engineers and architects to ensure the tower could safely support the additional weight of the platform and SUV,” Ford mentions.
The automaker also worked closely with champion climber Martin Mobråten to design a challenging course that stretched from the ground to the car to challenge the contestants to discover new limits.
The team also extended the climbing surfaces beyond the observation deck to the top of the tower, so the climbers had to scale the length of the entire tower to reach the car and set their time.
Sitting on top and the grand prize, the Explorer Plug-In Hybrid is Ford’s most powerful hybrid in Europe, combining an EcoBoost petrol engine, 13.6 kWh battery and an electric motor to put out 457 PS (451 horsepower).
The adventurous SUV is equipped with intelligent all-wheel drive and a terrain management system with seven drive modes making drives through rock trials, mud, snow and sand smooth.
“It takes the most adventurous customers to really test a vehicle as capable as our Explorer Plug-In Hybrid,” Dan Jones, senior manager of passenger vehicle communications at Ford of Europe, is quoted. “So we knew that not even the world’s tallest free-standing climbing tower could stand in their way.”
“Our goal with Explore New Heights was to create an inspiring symbol of exploration and adventure as people across Europe start to head out and enjoy the summer after a challenging year.”
The competition took place July 31. Fourteen elite climbers competed, with the winner being 21-year-old Leo Ketil Bøe finishing the climb in just 3 minutes and 33 seconds.
Ford’s Explorer will call the top of the tower home until August 27. Visitors are welcome to visit the tower and even climb it themselves via a steep staircase to win a limited-edition T-shirt if they reach the top.
We wonder if Ford was inspired by the old Chevrolet commercial with the model posing in a 1964 Impala atop the thin Castleton Tower in Utah: