End of the Line: Ford Ranger Production Ends Today

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End of the Line: Ford Ranger Production Ends Today

Today, the very last North American spec Ford Ranger pickup rolls off the Twin Cities assembly line, marking the end of the era for the once-popular compact pickup.

Like the Ford Crown Victoria earlier this year, the venerable Ranger has become one of Ford’s longest running models, having originally made its debut back in 1982 as an ’83 model. Yet like the Crown Vic, the Ranger has perhaps become a victim of several factors, including a lack of change, minimal marketing, shifting consumer tastes and ever more stringent safety and emissions standards.

Born in an era where compact pickup trucks were one of the fastest growing automotive segments in the US, the Ranger replaced the Mazda sourced Courier and proved hugely popular, consistently ranking among the top of the pack in terms of sales. It was extensively revamped for the 1993 model year and gained a Mazda counterpart in the shape of an enlarged B-Series for 1994. With both four-cylinder and V6 power, manual or automatic transmissions and two or four-wheel drive, the tough, attractively priced little Ranger and its twin proved shrewd buys for much of the 1990s. Yet despite an increasingly lack of change (save for mild facelifts), sales continued to grow during the decade, peaking in 1999 at some 348,358 units.

However, since then demand for Ford’s compact pickup and small trucks in general has been shrinking, rapidly. From 6 percent of the market back in 2000, small pickups represented just 2 percent of all North American vehicle sales last year, by which time  the B-Series had been dropped and Ford was shifting less than 60,000 Rangers annually.

Nonetheless, despite prosaic technology and almost a complete lack of promotion, those numbers aren’t bad, especially considering that in terms of price and fuel economy, a 2011 Ranger didn’t differ that much from an entry-level F-150.

Both dealers and customers say that the strategy to discontinue the Ranger and push remaining buyers towards the F-150 isn’t a particularly good one; especially as updated small trucks are being planned by Ford’s rivals, notably GM with its new Chevy Colorado and possible Jeep and Scion.

Like the Crown Vic, which essentially owned the fleet market, Ford’s decision to drop the Ranger will likely give a chance for competitors to make serious in roads in a segment that was dominated by the Blue Oval for years.

Not only that but with fuel economy and financial belt tightening on the radar for many Americans, the concept of an affordable, practical, cheap to maintain gas sipper (in terms of the real cost of motoring, the four-cylinder, five-speed Ranger remains one of the most economical vehicles on the road) is today, more relevant than ever.

  • Scot

    Hate to see this. I love my Ranger. My last one had over 250,000 miles and was going strong. I sold it and immediately had seller’s remorse. Purchased another one and it now has over 160,000 miles. I don’t need and don’t want a full size pickup. The Ranger is a perfect fit for me. I know they’ll be around (used) for years to come because they run forever!

  • Terence

    I think Ford is making a mistake. I really am glad I got my 2001 Mazda B truck. Easier parking than the F-150, easier on the pocketbook for gas, nice sized cargo bay in back. It’s a perfect sized vehicle for a city dweller like me and thousands of others. Oh well on to Toyota or Honda.

  • Colum Wood

    The Ford has been stale for so long the Toyota Tacoma now dominates the market. They sell twice as many Tacomas as Ford sells Rangers already.

  • Zbigniew

    I’M GLAD WITH MY 82 MAZDA B2200 WITH DIESEL ENGINE – FANTASTIC MPG, RUNS
    WITHOUT ANY PROBLEMS.I HAD 84 FORD RANGER WITH DIESEL ENGINE – THAT WAS THE BEST RANGER I EVER OWNED – VERY ECONOMICAL VEHICLE.ALWAYS MY VEHICLES
    ARE DIESELS.NOW I’M WAITING FOR NEW TRUCK WITH DIESEL ENGINE. MAYBE ONE DAY WE WILL HAVE VW TRUCK OR SOMETHING ELSE …?

  • Andy

    Ford Motor Company and it’s executives are losers for letting the Ranger die. I understand FMC is a global auto maker and needs to compete, justify design and engineer jobs, and increase share holder profit, but they made a big mistake trying to do it during a recession. The Japanese and Korean auto makers are building better cars and have increased their market share while FMC and North American manufactures are struggling. Is FMCs plan to keep vehicle price points high, pump newer vehicles, and not give the consumer what they want, the way to save the company? Probably not.

    In the eighties Chrysler and Dodge almost went bankrupt, if not for Lee Iacocca and his smart idea for frugal K car and variants based on the same platform. By Ford not following the same some formula of producing relatively cheap, dependable vehicles, people want, they stand a good chance of further market depreciation.

    The main point is, the Ford Ranger is the perfect K car for the current economic conditions, with slight upgrades, better fuel efficient engines, and same price point, they would sell tons. Is Ford not doing this because of ego or past prestige? If you can’t compete with the Japanese and Koreans on new product, why not try giving the consumer better old product? Toyota did it with the Corolla, why not the Ranger. All I can say is, if Ford Motor Company really listened to it’s customers, they would be in better shape than they are now. Dumb, dumb, dumb, very dumb.

  • Rmacleod

    I just got one of the finals yesterday.  This another bad move!  In our community Rangers are everywhere.  They are great trucks!  We are being forced in the age of austerity to swallow a mammoth gas guzzler in the future.     Dum da dumb dumb Ford!

  • TI

    I”ve officially decided to never purchase another Ford truck ever. This is by far one of the worst decisions that Ford has made and whoever came up with the idea should be fired!!!

  • Paul Weeks

    Very sad. I love my Ranger, and the one before my current one. Bad decision Ford. Would have loved a 2L Diesel version!

  • Kusf

    Ford CEO should be fired for this

  • foreseen

    Best truck I’ve ever owned, 2002 Ranger XLT still runs great and looks new!

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