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U.S.-spec Ford Ranger to officially end production in 2011, Ford explains why

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U.S.-spec Ford Ranger to officially end production in 2011, Ford explains why

by Zach Bowman (RSS feed) on Sep 20th 2010 at 1:00AM

If you live in the States, say goodbye to the Ford Ranger. The oft-neglected baby pickup from the Blue Oval is set to end production at its Twin Cities Assembly Plant in Minnesota next year, thereby kicking Dearborn out of the segment for the first time in nearly 30 years. The rest of the world won't be without a Ranger, though. Ford is set to pull the sheets back on the newest version of the global truck at the Australian International Motor Show next month, though released this intriguing teaser image in the meantime. It's bigger, slated for 180 markets spread all over the planet and it ain't for us. The question is: Why not?

In order to head that quandary off at the pass, Ford wanted to us in on its reasoning behind killing off the Ranger in the U.S. market. Derrick Kuzak, Ford's Vice President of Global Product Development, was kind enough to give us a few minutes out of his time to answer that question and more. Get the answers after the jump.

The official answer as to why the Ranger will no longer be available in America is that the new global platform is simply too close in size to the F-150. Kuzak says that the new global Ranger is 90 percent of the size of the current F-150 and that American buyers would just as soon spend a little more money for a larger, more capable vehicle. But if the two trucks are so close in size, why didn't the company take the F-150 global and do away with the Ranger all together?

"That ten-percent size difference does make a difference," Kuzak said. "Right-hand drive is required in the rest of the world and other regulations, both safety and emissions, impacted that decision."

But there are other forces at work, too. Kuzak notes that the compact pickup market in America has been declining for the past 15 years, dropping from eight percent of the industry in 1994 to around two percent today. Even so, Ford says that on average, it still sells around 75,000 Rangers a year. And that's on a platform that hasn't received a significant powertrain or styling update since 1993. The North American Ranger is about as zombified as a vehicle can get, and yet a good number of buyers remain happy to hop into a new one and take it home in favor of its brawnier big brother.

That said, Ford has conducted research that shows that the majority of Ranger buyers don't purchase the vehicle because it's a pickup. Instead, they come into the showroom looking for the least expensive, most economical Ford available.

"They were looking for affordable transportation. Within our Ford lineup today and increasingly going forward, we're providing them more alternative affordable transportation than we've ever done."

Until just recently, the doomed Ranger filled that role, but now that the Fiesta has arrived, the company expects to see even more buyers flee from the compact truck. Meanwhile, those that have their heart set on an actual work vehicle can turn to offerings like the company's Transit Connect van.

The new Ranger is simply too close in size to the F-150. The final nail in the Ranger's coffin comes courtesy of the 2011 F-150, which will boast new, more efficient drivetrain options. Buyers will be able to outfit their massive pickups with a 3.7-liter, naturally aspirated V6 or a twin-turbo 3.5-liter V6, both of which will be bolted to a six-speed automatic. Ford hasn't released specifics on fuel economy just yet, but we're expecting the numbers to come close to embarrassing the 24.5 mpg combined of the 2010 Ranger while having far greater capabilities. And of course, the Blue Oval stands to make healthier margins on the F-Series than it would if it had to design a new model from the ground-up and sell it in smaller numbers.

All that said, as we've heard from many of our readers, even if the new V6 F-150 models net excellent fuel economy figures, some truck buyers say they simply won't be interested because full-size trucks are harder to maneuver and park. A few have even said they still feel wastefully profligate and unwieldy. And with ever-pressing CAFE standards and many U.S. consumers in need of a light-duty pickup to run trash to the dump or to snag a few sticks of lumber from the home improvement store, it feels like Ford could be leaving the compact truck segment at exactly the wrong time.

Sadly, we'll never know how well the Ranger would have fared if Ford continued its development, and while thoughts of a stripped-out truck with an Ecoboost four-cylinder, six-speed manual transmission and not much else has us giggling like hatters, the Blue Oval clearly doesn't think it can find enough profit in small pickups.



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Ford Ranger pickup trucks won't be sold in N. America after '11



Ford confirmed Monday that it will not sell the next generation of the compact Ford Ranger pickup truck in North America after 2011.

However, a larger version of the Ranger that will be sold in all markets outside North America will be unveiled Oct. 15 at an auto show in Sydney, Australia.

The new version of the Ranger to be sold outside North America is closer to the size of the F-150 already sold here, said Ford spokesman Mark Schirmer.

Ford, which has been trying to simplify its global lineup, decided several years ago to eliminate the U.S.-made Ranger in North America and expand the capability of its F-Series pickups.

Rangers became available in the U.S. in 1982, and sales here peaked in 1999, at slightly more than 348,000, according to Ward's AutoInfoBank. But only 55,600 sold last year. So far this year, 35,029 have sold.

The Ranger is made at Ford's plant in St. Paul, Minn., where production will end in 2011.

In August, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty met with Ford executives in Dearborn in an effort convince Ford to reverse its decision.

"Our decision remains to close the plant in Twin Cities," Mark Fields, Ford president of the Americas said after meeting with Pawlenty.

Ford originally planned to close the St. Paul plant where U.S. Rangers are made in 2008, but the company delayed the closure until fall 2011. The factory employs 750 workers.

Read more: Ford Ranger pickup trucks won't be sold in N. America after '11 | freep.com | Detroit Free Press http://www.freep.com/article/20100921/BUSINESS0102/9210331/1331/Business01/Ford-Ranger-pickup-trucks-wont-be-sold-in-N.-America-after-11#ixzz10AcNCavq

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Aging Ford Ranger small pickup dead in U.S., redesigned for rest of planet

06:06 PM

Ford Motor is unveiling a redesign for its Ranger small pickup at the Australian International Motor Show in Sydney Oct. 15. Bigger, more powerful, nicer all around -- and we can't have it.

It's too close in size to the big F-150 Ford sells here, which now offers a V-6 engine again for the econo-crowd, though not in price. The cheapest F still is priced roughly $4,000 more than the base Ranger. Ford wants no competition for the profitable F-150 from its own Ranger.

Too, rival compact pickups such as Toyota Tacoma, Chevy Colorado, Nissan Frontier, Dodge Dakota all now are newer designs, bigger and with more modern features and technology. Ford figures it would cost too much to make the Ranger competitive in the U.S. and it will be no small matter to meet new U.S. crash standards in 2012.

The move could cost Ford about 20,000 annual sales to buyers who truly want compact pickups, such as city dwellers with small parking spaces, go to rivals.

But that may not be a problem for Ford, says Jesse Toprak at auto researcher TrueCar.com:

"Ford is more than capable of recouping that" by emphasizing the V-6 versions of the F-150 for price- and mileage-conscious buyers who might otherwise have considered a Ranger.

"It's probably a positive , due to savings from marketing just one truck line," Toprak says.

Ranger, first sold in the U.S. in February 1982, peaked at 348,000 U.S. sales in 1999, Ford says. In 2008, last "normal" U.S. sales year, Ranger's tally was just 66,000, according to Autodata. Many were fleet buyers Ford thinks it can switch to the Transit Connect small commercial van.

Ranger, first sold in the U.S. in February 1982, peaked at 348,000 U.S. sales in 1999, Ford says. In 2008, last "normal" sales year for the U.S. auto market, Ranger's tally was just 66,000, according to Autodata. Many of those were fleet buyers and Ford thinks it can switch a lot of them to the Transit Connect small commercial van.

Though it's No. 2 in small-pickup sales, Ranger has lately lacked the cachet of the segment leader, Tacoma. The Toyota is considered both hip and

CAPTIONFord Motor via Wieck

rugged -- OK for younger buyers who want a useful vehicle that's not on the dork list, and also OK for older buyers who want a capable pickup but not the unwieldy footprint of a full-size model and don't want to be scoffed at for driving a "wanna-be" pickup.

The compact pickup segment once was 8% of the new-vehicle market, but now is a minuscule 2% (of a much-smaller market), says Ford spokesman Said Deep. Ford says it will quit making the U.S. Ranger, which starts at about $18,000, in 2011 and close its St. Paul, Minn., plant.

Ford learned about the Ranger name's lack of clout when it studied a new cab style some years back and discovered that roughly nobody was interested in "crew-cab Ranger," but if Ford named it "Explorer SportTrac" (which it did), there would be buyers and they'd actually pay a higher price

-- James R. Healey/Drive On



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By Mark Kleis

Ford Motor Company has been slowly weening its North American consumer base off of the once top-selling Ford Ranger since it first planned to cancel production of its small pickup in 2008.

Now, after several on-again, off-again changes of heart fueled by endless rumors, Ford has confirmed that the Ranger pickup will in fact be discontinued with no direct replacement with the 2011 model year.

Ford once sold nearly 350,000 Rangers in a single year during its peak, also claiming the title of the top-selling truck in its class from 1987 through 2004. But after Ford seemingly left the Ranger out to pasture, combined with a general industry-wide trend for decreasing sales of small and mid-size pickups, the automaker has finally decided to pull the plug for good.

What will would-be Ranger buyers be directed toward instead? Leftlane has spoken with Ford executives on numerous occasions that have suggested the majority of small truck buyers would in fact be better suited by a compact car, either a Focus or a Fiesta. Supporting that claim, they argued, was the recent trend of decreasing small and mid-size truck sales, while compact and subcompact car sales have increased in the same period.

The same executives argued that while Rangers were once purchased as a form of stylish or "fun" standard transportation, increasing gas prices and an unstable economy have pushed many consumers into more practical vehicles for daily driving duty, namely cars.

The remaining portion of Ranger buyers will be directed to the full-size F-150, which Ford believes can play the role for those needing a more affordable truck for light and medium work loads - particularly with the re-introduction of the V6 engine in 2011. No doubt, some - possibly many - buyers who would have previously considered a Ranger will no doubt go to the competition for a smaller offering.

For the rest of the world that sees limited to no access to the North American F-150, Ford plans to unveil a newer, larger (but still smaller than an F-150) Ranger for 180 global markets on October 15, in Sydney, Australia.



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But there are other forces at work, too. Kuzak notes that the compact pickup market in America has been declining for the past 15 years, dropping from eight percent of the industry in 1994 to around two percent today.

Cause or effect?

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I would have liked to see a new ranger too but I'd rather the resource be forcused on more volume vehicles then what is essential a low margin niche at this point. The only Niches that I would produced would be halo cars because they reflect better on the whole brand.

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I don't understand why we don't get the Ranger the rest of the world gets....

What happened to "One Ford"?

Hypocrisy - the Mantra of American Automobile Manufacturers.

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Ford Kills American Ranger after 2011, New Global Ranger Still a Go


Due to the impending death of the American compact truck market, Ford has officially decided to not sell the next generation Ford Ranger in the States after 2011. Instead, the Blue Oval will concentrate on making its half-ton F-150 an all-around contender with a broader engine range. Apparently Ford doesn't think the compact pickup truck market in the States is too important (and at 2%, it really isn't).

Ford's decision to kill its American compact pickup has a couple reasons behind it: competitors offer better options that would cost too much to compete against, and more importantly, the segment is simply dying and not worth investing in. By canceling the US Ranger, Ford will be shutting down its St. Paul, Minnesota assembly plant.

The bottom line is that Ford can and has justified spending its money elsewhere. One example is moving some of its former Ranger fleet purchases to Transit Connects, which makes a lot of sense.

For all those compact pickup fans, there is an upside: markets that make use of small trucks will be getting a new Ranger very soon. The next, more efficient compact pickup will debut at Sydney's Australian International Motor Show. The truck was designed in Australia, which has been on a roll lately with great designs and ideas (e.g. the new Falcon GT and Cruze Hatchback).

The world's next Ranger should come with EcoBoost power and four and six-cylinder gasoline and diesel engines. As soon as we get some more info closer to its debut, you know where to come.

By Phil Alex



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Ford Ranger: A Bugs' Worst Enemy Faces Extermination

By Marty Padgett

Editorial Director

September 22nd, 2010

With the spike in reports of infestations everywhere--from hotels to second-hand stores to the Empire State Building--the lowly bedbug has the Web buzzing with more plentiful, and sometimes more positive, news coverage than the average C-list actress.

Still, some killjoys are looking for ways to stamp out the notoriously rugged pests--everything from heat, to barriers, to poisons.

Maybe they haven't tried a Ford Ranger yet?

It may not have superpowers to rid homes of bedbugs, but other vermin have one major foe in the Ford Ranger. The celebrated small pickup is the extermination industry's mainstay: the "bug truck" stripper model with a regular cab, a four-cylinder engine, a manual transmission, and not much more on the features list is the most popular choice for contractors and franchisees on a mission of exoskeletal death.

In turn, Ford says exterminators like Orkin account for more than 10 percent of Ranger sales today. It's a big percentage, but Ranger sales have fallen far in the past decade--down to about 70,000 units annually for 2009 and probably less for the 2010 model year. The exterminators accounted for 8,000 to 10,000 Ranger sales last year.

What happens when the Ranger faces its own mortality? The small truck has a date with death next year, when Ford halts its production in St. Paul, Minn., and closes the longtime Ranger assembly plant.

And what happens to all the exterminators? Ford execs say they've talked to the pest-control companies and offered them versions of the Transit Connect utility wagon, with some interest--but as much concern for putting drivers in the same enclosed areas as the chemicals they use to treat homes and businesses. It's possible the bug trucks could switch allegiance over to the GM compact pickups, but those trucks too--the Chevy Colorado and GMC Canyon--are due to expire themselves, sometime before 2012.

And while we're at it...do the bugs know they're about to lose their archenemy to old age? We shudder to think. And we itch a little, too.



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