Numerous US publications are reporting that Ford Motor Company is in discussions with the United Automobile Workers (UAW) about bringing the mid-sized pick-up back to the US market, quoting sources with knowledge of the talks.
The Ranger, which was designed and engineered in Australia, is sold in almost 200 markets around the world, but surprisingly is not offered in the US, which is by far the world’s largest pick-up market.
Ford last sold the Ranger in the US in 2011, when the Minnesota plant that built it closed. Automotive News reports sales peaked in 1999, when Ford sold almost 350,000 Rangers in the US, but dipped to just over 70,000 by its final year on sale.
The market for mid-sized pick-ups in the US is expected to top 360,000 units this year, with the Toyota Tacoma accounting for half that number. While significant, the segment is humbled by the full-size pick-up market, which is dominated by the Ford F-Series truck and is on track to top two million units this year.
The reports suggest Ford is also considering building the Bronco SUV at the plant. The Bronco would likely be a version of the Ranger-based Ford Everest, which was also designed and engineered by Ford Australia.
To get the green light, the plan will first need to be approved by Ford’s board of directors as well as the UAW.
In a statement, Ford said it was currently investigating possibilities for the assembly plant from 2018.
“We will move production of the next-generation Ford Focus and C-Max, which currently are built at Michigan Assembly Plant, beginning in 2018.
“We actively are pursuing future vehicle alternatives to produce at Michigan Assembly and will discuss this issue with UAW leadership as part of the upcoming negotiations.”
Last year, Ford Truck group marketing manager Doug Scott told USA Today the return of the Ranger to the US was under consideration, insisting that price and size differentiation from the F-Series were key to its chances.
“We’re looking at it,” Scott said. “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 US$5000 or US$6000 less, and that we could build in the US to avoid the tariff on imported trucks.”
More: 2016 Ford Ranger Review