When the lovable Ford Ranger went to the great Home Depot parking lot in the sky back in December, Ford predicted that its small pickup owners would look up to the larger F-150 at replacement time. Not so much: we hear that Ranger owners are looking to other brands more than Ford to replace their aging pickups.
As the Ranger's deathwatch comes to a close--sales are slipping to zero across the country as dealers sell through inventory--buyers who want small pickup trucks have fewer and fewer choices. General Motors offers the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon (and will replace those models soon with an all-new truck next year), Nissan sells the Frontier, and Toyota sells the Tacoma. Detroit News found that, even as their three trucks age (the Canyon/Colorado hasn't seen any significant upgrades since 2004), small truck manufacturers are gleefully welcoming old Ranger owners. Chrysler doesn't offer a small pickup truck.
According to the Detroit News, 40 percent of people interested in the Ranger were also cross-shopping a Toyota Tacoma, while only 20 percent of those people considered the F-150. However, Ford still claims it's keeping Ranger owners in the family: "we are retaining some Ranger buyers," said Erich Merkle, Ford's U.S. sales analyst, to the Detroit News. It's hard to say exactly how well the company is doing it. Ford doesn't publicly release customer retention numbers.
With the small pickup market dwindling and the products aging, Ford's taking a markedly different route than the other two American automakers. General Motors will bring its new Colorado pickup, which is already making waves in international markets, to the states, while Chrysler is cautiously looking at the industry and heavily considering a new unibody light-duty small pickup; both Nissan and Toyota will continue to make their small pickups for some time. Ford, meanwhile, looks to have shut the door on small pickups. Merkle had this to say: "as for the compact pickup segment, it has become a much smaller part of the overall industry over the past 12 years." Roughly translated: don't expect to see a new Ranger any time soon.
Source: Detroit News