Saturday, December 17, 2011

Rest in Peace Ford Ranger: Cash Cow Neglect Case #5

Say goodbye to the Ford Ranger, which has been pretty much the same with minor facelifts since it was introduced in 1982. It appeared soon after the Ford Escort to replace the Mazda-based Ford Courier which WAS a compact Japanese pickup similar to the Toyota and Datsun pickups. This was a BEST SELLER for a long time, then they just ... left ... it ... alone.
Ford Courier (Mazda)

Ford has long history of neglecting cash cows to death:

Ford Taurus which was the one car that made Honda change its Accord to better copy the Taurus

Crown Victoria / Grand Marquis / Town Car dominated the cab and police and limo markets after GM dropped the Caprice
Crown Vic Successor to Checker

The Ford Windstar / Freestar was the first successful aerodynamic front-drive minvan which suffered greatly from a lame name change and ineffective update.

Forgettable Ford Freestar

Because it was never redesigned, the Ranger was the only true compact left as all of its competitors had grown up to "mid-size" pickups like the Dodge Dakota.

2011 Toyota Tacoma Double Cab (US)"The Tacoma was a compact pickup until a model redesign in 2005 when it was reclassified to a mid-size. "

Ford makes a terrific up-to date Ranger for international markets, but it is nearly the size and probably more expensive than the larger F-150.  The T6 replaces two regional Ranger platforms: theMazda BT-50-derived model sold in the Latin America, Europe, and Asia-Pacific regions and the North American model sold in select Latin American markets.[1]Although the T6 Ranger will be offered in 180 markets, it will not be sold in the United States or Canada. This is due to the new global platform being too close in size and price to the F-150 and overall declining sales of compact pickups in North America.
Ford T6 Ranger 2010 1.JPG
2011 Ford T6 Ranger at the Australian International Motor Show 2010

The other story is that the tall-roof Focus-based Transit Connect vans that look like shrunken Dodge Sprinters are what Ford hopes to offer businesses that need a small fuel-efficient fleet truck. 

2010 Ford Transit Connect (US)
Transit Connect 

The Ranger was the basis for the too-short tippy high-CG Ford Bronco II, and the more successful Explorer which redefined the SUV market, but the Explorer got the more advanced engineering while the Ranger stayed the same, and now switched to the soft crossover platform
First generation Ford Bronco IIFord Explorer Eddie Bauer 4-door


Ford's Twin Cities Assembly Plant in Minnesota.. offered high-wage manufacturing jobs for 86 years and produced everything from Model Ts to Country Squires.. Ford is pulling out of the small pickup business in the U.S. Over the years, the plant produced 6 million vehicles and most recently employed about 800 workers."

introduced in 1982 to fight small pickups from Japan...peaking in the mid-1990s, sales of the Ranger have fallen over the last decade, hurt by neglect as Ford focused on more profitable large pickups. The Ranger's styling grew stale, it lost its fuel economy edge and the price wasn't much lower than beefier siblings like the F-150.... sales of small pickups topped out at 1.2 million, or 8 per cent of all vehicles sold in the U.S., in 1994, 
... as Ford gradually added features, like upgraded transmissions or satellite radio, prices crept up. A top-of-the-line, two-door Ranger with a V6 engine starts at $22,340, or just $600 less than a base model F-150. 
he Ranger, which offers a four-cylinder engine, can get up to 27 miles per gallon on the highway. But an F-150 with a more powerful V6 can get 23.
..Small pickup sales dropped by nearly half between 2007 and 2009.
...expects many Ranger customers to shift to F-150s, which are nearly 4 feet longer and sit 10 inches higher than the Ranger
The plant has produced more than 6 million cars and trucks since 1925,

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