More Compact Trucks… For US
the first known victim of the latest CAFE (government fuel efficiency)
increase to 35.5 MPG: The compact pick-up truck. And the American
discovered that Ford has dropped the Ranger Americas
last compact-sized truck - for 2012. But not from its lineup. Just
from its U.S. model lineup. Not only will the Ranger continue
to be sold in export markets, the 2012 model will be a heavily updated
model which, among other things, will offer a new diesel engine
something you cant get in any current pick-up in the
U.S. thats not at least a 2500 series behemoth with a price
tag well over $30,000. Meanwhile, the Aussies, among others, will
get a brand-new Ranger, revealed at the Thailand International Motor
Expo last month. It is a handsome-looker, with an available quad
cab body and an all-new interior.
The 2.2 liter,
four-cylinder Duratorq TDCi diesel-equipped version offered
with either six-speed manual or six-speed automatic sounds
like just the ticket for the U.S. market, too.
But, we lose.
Its not coming here.
reason for not giving American buyers the opportunity to buy this
truck is that supposedly Ranger is too close to F-150
and so redundant.
no sense, especially since as recently as the 2010 New York Auto
Show, Ford Spokeswoman April Fursten told www.pickuptrucks.com
that We took a long look at Ranger sales over the last two
years and the numbers are better than we forecasted. Year-to-date,
its outpacing 2009s numbers, selling better than the
all-new Flex crossover and is only about 2,000 less units than the
recently updated Mustang
. Fursten added that (Ford
CEO Alan) Mullaly said we be nuts to kill the Ranger in the U.S.
because more than 7 million have been sold since 1983.
get it, either.
may not be a best-seller, but its a consistently solid seller.
And its been a staple of the Ford lineup for three decades.You dont
just throw away brand equity like that. Also, its the only
compact truck on the market, so Ford has the market all to itself.
Well, it did.
a reasonably fuel-efficient four-cylinder engine capable of 22 MPG
city, 27 MPG on the highway. The best the much larger F-150 can
do is 17 city, 23 highway. That 4-5 MPG split may not sound like
all that much but to many people in this economy, its a difference
that matters. (I own a compact, four-cylinder pick-up myself that
I bought precisely because I did not need a V-6 nor want to feed
And with the
new Duratorq diesel, the upated 2012 Ranger is probably good for
30-plus on the highway, which would surely draw buyers attention.
And not just because of the better mileage. The diesel would be
better-suited to pulling and off-roading. You know, the kinds of
things that people who buy trucks tend to be interested in. And
theres longevity. Assuming its a solid design, a decently
cared for Duratorq engine ought to last longer than the truck itself.
Another selling point.
Price is another
factor. The current Ranger (2011) starts at $18,160. The base 2012
F-truck starts at $22,990. Thats a more than $4,600 difference.
A huge difference. Ford is going to make you pay more for
gas and make you pay more for a new truck. A lot more.
I expect a
lot of people are not going to be happy about this.
Size also does
matter to many people.
wants a 1500 series truck. The F-150 is a big truck. Even
the regular cab model stretches 213.2 inches bumper to bumper vs.
189.4 for the regular cab Ranger. Thats about two feet (and
about 500 pounds) more truck than a lot of buyers need.
truck makes a great runabout. Its easier to maneuver and park.
And its pretty good on gas. Whats wrong with this picture?
What would make Ford think that the compact-sized Ranger, which
has sold well for decades, is wrong in concept? Actually, not wrong
in concept because after all, Ford committed major resources
to significantly update it for 2012. Which certainly implies that
Ford sees a future for the truck.
Just not here.
The only thing
I can come up with is
CAFE. The federal governments
fuel efficiency edicts. But wait, isnt the Ranger more fuel-efficient
than the F-truck? Wouldnt a diesel Ranger be even more so?
Yes, and yes. So?
Bear with me.
CAFE is about
fleet averages, which are measured based on annual production totals.
So, the more of a given vehicle that gets less-than-par MPGs (35.5
MPGs by 2016) the lower a car companys overall fleet average
CAFE score. By getting rid of the Ranger, Ford will produce fewer
trucks overall that dont make the CAFE cut, which will help
float the final number.
Ford is not
going to drop the F-truck, a best-seller. But the merely ok-selling
Ranger is expendable.
blame Ford. Or at least, dont be too hard on Ford. It did
what it probably had to do. Faced with the Hobsons choice
of keeping Ranger in the U.S. lineup and losing probably millions
courtesy of CAFE fines or dropping the truck and losing a few thousand
buyers some of whom Ford knows it can probably up-sell into
a new F-truck the decision was predictable.
too bad that, once again, American consumers get to pay more
and get one less choice to make themselves courtesy of the
Clovers in Washington.
with permission from EricPetersAutos.com.
[send him mail] is an automotive
columnist and author of Automotive
Atrocities and Road Hogs (2011). Visit his
© 2011 Eric Peters
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