Although it had yet to be confirmed, there were many hints that Ford‘s venerable compact pickup, the Ranger would end production in the North American market in 2011. Well now that’s been officially declared by Ford, with no replacement in sight.
According to Derrick Kuzak, Ford’s current Vice President of Global Product Development, there are several reasons why the Ranger won’t be replaced here even though a next generation ‘global’ Ranger will be offered in other markets. Kuzak says that this ‘global’ Ranger is approximately 90 percent the size of the current F-150 and that buyers, particularly in the U.S.; would rather spend that little extra to get a full-size truck. But he also said that in overseas markets that 10 percent in size can make a difference, along with the ability to meet different legislative requirements in various countries as well as being able to engineer the truck for both left and right hand drive (aspects that weren’t really considered for the current F-150).
Kuzak also went on to state that the small truck market in North America has been declining for years and now represents just two percent of total vehicle sales (it once accounted for around 10 percent). He also says that people who bought Rangers were also looking primarily for cheap wheels, so their needs can be served by cars like the Fiesta and in the commercial sector, the Transit Connect.
Kuzak didn’t comment on the fact that the decline in small truck sales might be due to a lack of enthusiasm and investment from automakers, with Ford not having updated the Ranger in any significant way since 1993. And yet it still managed to sell a respectably 75,000 units annually.
Ford is also hoping they can move Ranger owners up into the F-150, which as of 2011 will boast a V6 engine that is more fuel efficient than the Ranger’s four-banger.
Given the fact that GM might be considering a new true compact truck in view of the 35 mpg CAFE standards; Chrysler has given the green light for a next generation Dakota and even Scion is looking at a compact truck to complement its lineup of ‘youth oriented’ vehicles, perhaps ditching the Ranger at this time isn’t the best strategy for Ford.