With 6.6 million units sold since 1983, the Ford Ranger was once the best-selling truck in the compact pickup segment. Now, The Detroit News reports that the last Ranger model will roll off the line on December 19, also marking the final day of operation for Ford’s 86-year-old Twin Cities Assembly Plant in Minnesota. As there’s less than a $5000 difference between the larger F-150 and the compact Ranger, and being that engine options in the full-size truck have become more efficient, Ford has a hard time justifying the Ranger’s existence in the U.S. market. As such, the Ranger will breathe its last breath on U.S. soil on December 19.
Up until it was ousted by the Toyota Tacoma in 2005, the Ford Ranger led the compact pickup truck segment for 18 years. At its peak in 1999, the Ranger sold 348,358 units. After 2006, however, sales fell below 100,000 units per year and never recovered since. Part of the reason for the Ranger’s decline is Ford’s decision to put more resources and attention into the larger F-150, which last month saw nearly seven times the sales volume of the Ranger. Receiving few revisions since its introduction, the Ranger became dated. Unlike other compact trucks on the market, the Ranger never adopted the crew cab body style, or received any major engine upgrades throughout its life. Although a new Ranger model is planned for other markets, built in Thailand and South Africa, the U.S. won’t get that vehicle due to costly import tariffs and Ford’s belief that the market for small pickups in the U.S. is becoming ever slimmer.
“The segment has shrunk dramatically,” said Doug Scott, Ford’s truck marketing manager, to The Detroit News. “In 2000, the compact pickup segment was about 1 million units, and this year that segment will be lucky to be 250,000 or 300,000 units.”
Despite what the numbers say, there are many who disagree with Ford’s decision to kill the Ranger in the U.S. Scott continues: “A lot of our customers are not happy, obviously, that it is going away, and I imagine we will get more of that over the next month after Ranger goes out of production.”
Those customers will be forced to look to the competition, which includes General Motors’ 2013 Colorado and Chrysler Group’s planned unibody replacement for the outgoing Dakota. Unlike Ford’s plan to build and sell the Ranger overseas, GM will continue to build the Colorado in the U.S. primarily for North America.
Last year, we got our first look at the not-for-U.S. 2012 Ford Ranger, where we saw what truck shoppers in the U.S. would be missing out on. With new powertrains, including a flex-fuel-capable 164-hp 2.5-liter I-4 and a 3.2-liter diesel I-5 producing 197 hp and 347 lb-ft of torque, the global Ranger features significant technical improvements compared to its counterpart in the U.S. Styling for the truck is contemporary, departing from the traditional look of past U.S.-market Rangers. Overall, the 2012 Ranger looks promising, and would be a welcome addition to the compact truck segment in the U.S. If only that were in the cards.
Source: The Detroit News, Ford