Ford Mulling Smaller Pickup, But Global Ranger Is Too Big

Derek Kreindler
by Derek Kreindler

Ford is said to be mulling a smaller pickup to slot beneath the F-150, plucked from their existing global product portfolio. One thing we are sure of is that it won’t be the new “global Ranger” sold in world markets.

Despite the relentless insistence of enthusiasts, Ford’s new Ranger will not be sold here because it is simply too big. Calling it “90% of the F-150 size”, Ford’s Dave Scott told USA Today that the new truck would be a true small truck, rather than something mid-size like the new Chevrolet Colorado.

“We’re looking at it. We think we could sell a compact truck that’s more like the size of the old Ranger, that gets six or eight more miles per gallon (than a full-size truck), is $5,000 or $6,000 less, and that we could build in the U.S. to avoid the tariff on imported trucks,” he says.

And there lies the problem. How do you find a product cheap enough to sell at such a price point (the F-150 already starts at around $20,000), and then amortize the cost of producing it in an American factory and homologating it for FMVSS standards while still making a profit? Oh, and there’s the whole CAFE thing as well.

Despite the insistence of the internet small truck brigade, the case for the small(er) truck is largely predicated on desiring variety for its own sake. The obstacles to profitability are extremely high, and there aren’t enough customers demanding a small truck to make the exercise worthwhile. The alternatives are to bring a unibody “lifestyle truck”, as Ford is exploring, or letting your current mid-sizer sit on the vine for years, sans updates, as Toyota and Nissan have done with the Tacoma and Frontier. In Nissan’s case, even developing something affordable for North American consumers on a long amortized platform was deemed to be an economically unfeasible proposition, thanks to burdensome regulations and weak demand.

The alternative is to task a risk, listen to the cheerleaders and bring out a new mid-size truck…and then have your dealers upsell potential customers into a more profitable full-size truck that also happens to have four-figure rebates attached to it. Don’t think that’s going to happen? Go ahead, I’ll wait.

Derek Kreindler
Derek Kreindler

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  • Varezhka Varezhka on Oct 07, 2014

    I wonder how many of the former Ranger buyers' needs aren't already met between the Transit Connect and stripper F150s. I can't see a good business case to develop a whole new vehicle (platform sharing or not) for this small niche. If there really is a need for Ford to have a smaller than F-series pickup, maybe they can rebadge a Nissan Frontier/Navara (or Nissan rebadge a Ranger) to get a sufficient combined volume to warrant US federalization?

    • See 4 previous
    • Big Al from Oz Big Al from Oz on Oct 08, 2014

      @mikeg216 Read this from the CEO of VW. It will explain why the chicken tax is stopping pickups from being imported into the US. Essentially to manufacture a pickup in the US a certain amount of volume is required to invest into the factories to manufacture them. VW estimates for them to sell the Amarok in the US at least a 100 000 market is needed to cover the cost of a factory. If the chicken tax wasn't there they could import them and sell less volume and still be profitable. I say why not give VW a chance. Remove the chicken tax. Mike you tell me why the chicken tax should remain? http://wot.motortrend.com/1312_volkswagen_u_s_ceo_amarok_could_come_here_if_chicken_tax_goes_away.html

  • Racer-esq. Racer-esq. on Oct 07, 2014

    There is no way that Ford can meet the price and mileage targets, and make a profit, unless this new truck is front wheel drive and unibody. The front wheel drive unibody Transit Connect can carry over 3/4 tons of cargo, more than most 150/1500 series trucks, so a serious truck can be made on that kind of platform. Talk of using an existing platform that is not the global Ranger makes it fairly clear Ford is thinking of a FWD unibody platform.

    • See 3 previous
    • Scoutdude Scoutdude on Oct 08, 2014

      @RobertRyan There is no pickup with an aluminum frame, while the new F150 will have a aluminum body the frame is steel. You can order a F150 that has a higher payload rating than a F250 depending on how you configure each.

  • Blueice Patient 28, sorry, but it is Oktoberfest. Bring a kegof Kraut beer and we will 50% you.
  • Bd2 Probably Toyota, Hyundai is killing them these days.
  • Bd2 Japan is evil, stop buying their vehicles. I hope TTAC has a holiday for PEARL HARBOR.
  • Wolfwagen If Isuzu could update this truck and keep the cost between $25K - $30K they would sell like ice pops on dollar day in a heat wave.
  • 3SpeedAutomatic I'm at that the inflection point of do I continue to putting money in a 12 yr old SUV entering a heavy maintenance cycle or start shopping.I have noticed comparable new SUVs with $2.5k knocked off the sticker price, but still with the shenanigans of $300 for nitrogen in the tires. However, I have noticed the same 2 yr old SUV which are only $4.5K less than the original sticker price. Usually the used cars price should be 35% to 40% less. This tells me there's a stronger market for used as opposed to new. Part of this is to handle the monthly note. Considering installments of 72 months, you'll never pay the beast off. Just wait till the end of the model year which is just two months away, and I think the comparable new SUV will come with larger markdowns. May not be the color you want, but there are deals to be made. 🚗🚗🚗
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