Why Doesn’t Ford Think the Ranger is All-American?

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The Ford Ranger has been in production in America since 1982, though now it’s official:  Ford Ranger production will cease on December 22nd, 2011, according to the United Autoworkers 879’s latest newsletter.

Ford has decided that, effective with the next model year, the truck will be no longer be sold in this country. This development comes as a surprise to many, as just over a decade ago, the vehicle still enjoyed sales of upwards of 300,000 units per year. However, the most recent year had sales of around 55,000, which was a fall of 16 percent from the previous year.

There are a number of reasons why Ford thinks that the vehicle has lost its edge in the United States, though fans of the Ranger are already upset at the discontinuing of one of Ford’s previously popular compact pickup trucks.

The Size Concern

The Ford Ranger is a compact pickup truck. It has long been used by Ford to bridge the gap between smaller vehicles and full size trucks like the F-150. However, Ford has decided that the size of the truck makes it a dead market in the United States. Many people who are looking to use a pickup truck want to be able to use it for outdoor activities and work projects. A smaller pickup truck is not able to accomplish many of these tasks as well as a larger truck is. Over recent years, in spite of concerns about fuel prices and inefficiency for larger trucks, the market for those vehicles has nonetheless solidified. People in the United States are no longer buying compact trucks, but are preferring to buy full size vehicles instead.

However, the market for smaller pickup trucks is flourishing in other parts of the world, where larger vehicles are problematic.Which is what prompted the news that Ford will create an all new Ranger "T6" to be sold in 180 markets worldwide, outside of the U.S. and Canada. The new Ranger will be built in three different plants, none of which are in the U.S.

The Redevelopment Concern

The Ford Ranger had not been redesigned for many years prior to this recent announcement. The next model year will feature a number of new additions, including four full doors in the cab, leather upholstery and other interior changes, and exterior design modifications to make the vehicle more sleek and modern looking. There is some speculation by industry professionals that sales of the Ford Ranger slumped in recent years simply because the vehicle was in need of some retooling and a major design overhaul, not especially because the market for vehicles of that type was dead.

Competition Concerns

One other reason that Ford may have opted to drop sales of the Ford Ranger in the United States is the competition, specifically the Toyota Tacoma. The Tacoma has surpassed the sales of the Ford Ranger in recent years by a significant margin, with the discrepancy between the sales figures for the two vehicles gaining each year. Rather than attempt to combat the trends toward the popularity of the Tacoma, it seems that Ford has opted to remove itself from the market completely.

(Click here to join the Disappearing Ranger conversation at Ford Truck Enthusiasts’ Forums!)

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