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Ford Considers Compact Unibody Pickup Truck for the U.S.

Replaces subcompact Brazilian Courier–rename it Ranchero?

Desperate to hold on to its truck primacy, Ford is working on a new compact pickup that could find its way into the U.S. product lineup by 2022. Ford is preparing a compact pickup truck that would fill the space left open when its Brazilian-built, Fiesta-based subcompact Courier pickup was replaced with the larger, midsized Ranger in 2013.

Sources familiar with Ford’s future product plan say the automaker is considering it for the U.S. market. It would slot below the Ford Ranger midsize pickup arriving in U.S. dealerships early next year, but bigger than the 1998-2013 Courier. The European Union market has been buying larger vehicles in recent years, including pickup trucks, and so the Courier replacement will be built on the next-generation Focus platform, sources say.

As a unibody pickup, it would have nothing like the profit margin of a Ford F-Series, or even the upcoming U.S. Ranger. It would, potentially, help Ford regain its lead in U.S. pickup sales, and secure the automaker’s truck bragging rights.

Although the Ford F-Series is having a record sales year in the U.S., with 451,138 delivered in the first half of 2018–a 4.9 percent increase over the first half of 2017–General Motors has sold more pickup trucks overall. Sales of the Chevrolet Colorado jumped 38.9 percent for the same period, contributing to first-half GM pickup truck sales o 478,671, including Chevy Colorado and Silverado, and GMC Canyon and Sierra.

While that lead of 27,533 for the first half of ’18 could easily be overcome by Ranger sales next year, a smaller, compact Ford pickup would lock up the bragging rights if there is no GM response.

Ford will introduce a new Focus for the EU and other market in 2019 to replace a model that has been on the market since 2012, though not for the U.S. North American production of that car initially was to move from the Michigan Wayne Assembly plant to make space for the new Ranger’s and upcoming Bronco’s production, first to Mexico, and then to China as President Trump sought to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Ford has since decided to cut the Focus sedan and hatchback from the U.S. market by next year. It will be replaced instead by a wagon/crossover slotting between the EcoSport and Escape, to target such models as the popular Subaru Crosstrek.

That Focus-based compact Ford crossover is scheduled to make its debut here in the 2020 model year, and it will be built in the Cuautitlan, Mexico, assembly plant, replacing Fiesta hatchback and sedan production in that factory. So new Courier production would be a natural for that plant, as NAFTA protects truck production in Mexico and Canada from the 54-year-old Chicken Tax. Prospects for the compact Ford pickup coming to the U.S. market appears largely determined by tariffs and trade deals negotiated by the Trump administration in the next 24 months.

There’s one other open question: Whether Ford would stick with the Courier name for the U.S. market. May we suggest another classic Ford name? … Ranchero.