Ford Ranger May Return to U.S. By 2018, For Reals

Compact-pickup buyers began pining for a new version of the venerable Ford Ranger as soon as the robots welded the trucks’ final frames four years ago, and you can count us among that lot. Now, according to anonymous big mouths in the Detroit News, Ford is not only planning to bring the global-market Ranger to America, but wants to build it in Michigan as soon as 2018.

The story breaks as Ford and the United Auto Workers hash out a new contract and decide what to do with the company’s Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne, which currently builds the Focus and C-Max. In July, Ford said it would move production of those models to Mexico by 2018 but stopped short on closing the plant. With 4500 jobs on the line, a resurgent mid-size pickup market spurred by General Motors, and Ford debuting a new Ranger in March, the possibility of a U.S.-spec version is more real than ever. The newspaper reports that the “final decision is up for discussion in the talks now underway.”

Ford wouldn’t confirm the plan, but spokesman Mike Levine said the company is “pursuing future vehicle alternatives to produce at Michigan Assembly and will discuss this issue with UAW leadership as part of the upcoming negotiations.”

Of course, the latest Ranger is no compact. Today’s “mid-size” trucks are mere inches away from full-size dimensions and not the lightweight, low-riding Rangers, S10s, Datsun 720s, and “YO” Toyotas that populated American roadways in the ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s. Still, the slightly shrunken proportions do pay dividends for parking, fuel economy, and price. As we’ve opined before, not every truck buyer wants or needs a half-ton pickup.



We’ll say this is an easy win for Ford. A little federalizing, no chicken tax, and a brand-new truck with a sleek interior and efficient engines—Ford’s 3.2-liter diesel inline-five is already available here in the Transit—should be simple math. Pickups, after all, are the most profitable and highest-volume segment for the Detroit Three.

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