Report: Ford may resurrect Ranger pickup truck in US – USA TODAY
Ford is considering reentering the small pickup truck segment by bringing the the Ranger back to the U.S., according to a Detroit News report.
Ford is weighing building the Ranger later this decade at the Michigan Assembly Plant near Detroit, the newspaper suggested.
The automaker declined to comment on the report.
But the company has been left without an offering in the small pickup category as gasoline prices have contracted. General Motors in 2014 introduced new mid-size pickup trucks, the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon, while Toyota recently overhauled the Tacoma.
Ford discontinued the Ranger in 2011, throwing all its weight in the pickup segment behind the larger F-series lineup, which remains the most popular vehicle in the U.S.
If Ford brings the Ranger to the Michigan Assembly Plant, it would at least partially replace production of the Focus compact car, Focus electric car, C-Max hybrid and C-Max Energi plug-in hybrid, which are likely moving to Mexico plants.
The company has insisted it won’t close the Wayne, Mich., plant, which employs about 4,500 workers, and that it will build future, unidentified products there.
That makes the plant’s future a key issue during current contract negotiations with the UAW. Current hourly worker agreements are set to expire Sept. 14.
“We actively are pursuing future vehicle alternatives to produce at Michigan Assembly and will discuss this issue with UAW leadership as part of the upcoming negotiations,” Ford spokeswoman Kristina Adamski said in a statement.
UAW spokesman Brian Rothenberg said he was not aware of talks involving the Ranger being produced at the Michigan Assembly plant.
The expectation is Ford will choose to make larger or more expensive vehicles in Michigan with a higher profit margin while shifting production of lower-margin small cars further south where labor costs are lower.
Making the Ranger in the U.S. would address another long-standing criticism of Ford by those who have called for its return ever since the last Ranger rolled off the line at the Twin Cities, plant in St. Paul, Minn., in December 2011. The Ranger is a strong seller in the rest of the world. To meet strong global demand, Ford builds the Ranger in Thailand, Argentina, South Africa and recently announced plans to add a satellite African plant in Nigeria in the fourth quarter.
Ford has for years flatly denied it has any interest in selling the Ranger in the U.S. again, saying it was low volume and customers are better served by the larger F-150 full-size pickup. Ford chose to make the F-150 more fuel efficient with an aluminum body and smaller engines, rather than continue to offer the smaller Ranger in the U.S.
But the small pickup segment has seen a resurgence with GM’s decision to enter the market again and Toyota’s new Tacoma. The Nissan Frontier also competes in the segment.
Even if the Ranger were to come back to the North American market, the anticipated low volumes likely would only use a fraction of the capacity available at the Michigan Assembly Plant.
Ford’s global platform strategy is designed to make it easy to build multiple different but related vehicles in a single plant, but they tend to be cars and car-based crossovers. The Ranger is on a distinct truck platform.