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Ford to end Sport Trac production in December

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Ford to end Sport Trac production in December

Sport Trac fans will miss pickup: Some won't switch to a 'too big' F-150


While in Afghanistan, U.S. Army Sgt. Bernard Olsen said he spent time online at www.MySportTrac.com, sharing ideas with other fans of the Ford pickup truck. During his 18-month tour, Olsen said he shopped online, shipping a lift kit, 33-inch tires and other aftermarket accessories home to Florida.

Dreaming of modifying his Sport Trac “made me feel like I wasn't there. It was very therapeutic. It got me away from the atmosphere in southern Afghanistan,” Olsen, 25, said.

Back stateside in June, Olsen finished modifying his 2004 Sport Trac in Florida just in time to learn that Ford Motor Co. is ending production of the compact pickup at the Louisville Assembly Plant next month.

Ford “just wants you to settle for a big F-150,” Olsen said. “My Sport Trac is more family oriented. I can still have the luxury of having a truck to move my military gear to and from post, as well as having room in the back seat for my little girl.”

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Fans like Olsen of the Explorer Sport Trac say it is just enough truck.

But it is just about gone, its demise coming shortly before the Explorer sport utility vehicle also ends production in December.

That is when the plant shuts down for up to a year for the $500 million conversion to build smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles like the Escape SUV.

At the end of 2011, Ford will also abandon the compact Ranger pickup truck.

That leaves Ford in only the full-size pickup truck business, focusing on the F-150 made elsewhere and the Super Duty F-Series trucks manufactured at the Kentucky Truck Plant.

“We can cover most midsize buyers with our new V6 F-150,” Ford senior sales analyst George Pipas said.

The automaker finds it “difficult to be successful with a midsize truck and a full-size truck,” Pipas added. “One or the other will not meet expectations. They are too close together in size, price and fuel economy.”

For about the price of a loaded 2010 F-150, Todd Zabbia purchased a $41,000 2010 Sport Trac last month with the top “Adrenalin” trim. The Long Island, N.Y., construction inspector co-owns www.MySportTrac.com, a community of 14,000 Sport Trac fans online.

“I have nothing against the F-150. It is just too big a truck,” Zabbia said. “It boils down to versatility. I can take my truck to the lumber yard and pack it with cement. Then I can get dressed in a suit and a tie and take the family out in it.

Always a niche vehicle, Sport Trac sales hovered around 60,000 annually from the 2000 introduction to 2005.

Since then, the truck's popularity has dimmed gradually to roughly one tenth of that, or 5,666 so far this year.

Demand for compact trucks overall continues to decline, standing now at 2 percent from a peak near 8 percent in the early 1990s, industry analysts say.



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