CarAdvice has obtained exclusive spy photographs of Ford Australia testing a hybrid version of its Ford Ranger utility, destined for the US market.
Our previous exclusive spy photographs of the Ford Ranger Raptor (pictured below) show an off-road skewed version of the Ranger. What we didn't realise at the time was that the vehicle pictured also had a port for plug-in hybrid connectivity.
The latest set of photographs appear to show the Ranger Raptor plug-in hybrid being charged from a wall socket at a workshop. The photographed vehicle features cladding on the bonnet and diagonal camouflage on the front end, along with a green 'Hybrid' sticker on the number plate, which is required by law for hybrid vehicles in Australia.
Taping of the headlights suggests that Ford could also be working on a new design for the next-generation Ranger, which is expected to be launched in late 2018 to replace the current model.
Ford Australia had extensive design and engineering involvement in the Ranger, which is currently built in Thailand. It's understood that Ford is using its domestic engineering resources to develop the parallel plug-in hybrid system to run alongside the current 3.2-litre five-cylinder turbocharged diesel engine.
A top secret Ford design forum held during January in Melbourne was attended by a CarAdvice reader who told us the following and requested to remain anonymous:
"The guy hosting the design forum said that their plan was to enter the US market, but needed a more aggressive utility that would help it blend in with the F-150."
"He said that Ford in Detroit was impressed with the Ranger Raptor while testing in the Loof Lirpa national park in Michigan, along with testing at the Ford Proving Ground in Victoria. He said that a hybrid version would help it compete with the larger diesel-only RAM 2500."
This overseas testing prompted Ford to begin the study, with a prototype vehicle based on the Ranger Wildtrak being shown to the design forum attendees.
"Yep, that photo you guys have is the exact car that was at the design forum. The exterior looked similar to a normal Ranger, but it had a plug on the front-side panel with a big plug for charging."
According to our source, Ford claims that the Ranger Raptor plug-in hybrid will have a driving range of 120km on full electric power.
It will also feature both a Drift Mode (as seen in the Ford Focus RS) and a Burnout Mode (as seen in the US-spec Ford Mustang GT) to increase appeal.
CarAdvice believes that Ford plans to launch the Ranger Raptor plug-in hybrid in the US market during 2017, closely followed by Australia and Thailand. Rumours at the design forum also suggested that Rick Astley would be part of the global launch.
Do you think a Ford Ranger Raptor Plug-In Hybrid will do well in Australia? And would you drive a hybrid utility or commercial vehicle?
UPDATE: Just in case you missed it, this was an April Fools' joke ;-)
Unfortunately (or fortunately) Rick Astley won't be making a come back...oh, and the Ranger Raptor plug-in hybrid isn't real. You can see us putting this joke together below. Enjoy!