The updated 2018 Ford Ranger will seek to build on its current position in the market with a focus on offering ‘excellence’ in the segment, according to Ford Australia’s chief.
Graeme Whickman, Ford Australia president and CEO, told CarAdvice this week that, while he can’t discuss anything about the new model, he has hopes it will retain, and build on, the current standard set by the Ranger model.
“I’ll give you the stock, boiler-plate answer because you know I’m not going to talk about future product, right?” he posited.
“Firstly, we’ve gone from a 15-ish per cent share of that segment to, year-to-date, we’re about 21, or close to 21,” he said. “And that’s been very satisfying. But in truth I think that’s come from the excellence of the product. I think, I’m hoping – this is what I’m told by customers – is they see the vehicle as one of the must-haves.
“There’s probably two or three that set people’s minds around ‘if I’m going to buy a pick-up, I’m going to try that one, that one and that one’ or it might just be ‘that one or that one’, and I think, thankfully, we’re one of those vehicles,” he said, likely referring to the Toyota HiLux as the other main option, and the Volkswagen Amarok as the third choice.
“The challenge for us is going to be that we continue with the product excellence, and so, if you think about what we did last year and the year before – first in the market with five-star, some of the driver-aid availability.
“If you can keep hitting the sweet spot with product excellence, and the wonderful thing here is we have 1700 designers and engineers sitting in Victoria who happen to work on that program, and lead the global development of that program, and the Everest amongst some other things.
“So you’ve got some pretty skilled, pretty talented Australians who know the geography, know the product, and understand how it ticks – so if we can continue to harvest that sweet spot, then I’m hoping we can earn the right to achieve those sorts of things.”
Judging by that logic, then, we can expect further democratisation of advanced safety tech, improvements to refinement, and better efficiency. We’d expect that the new-generation model will lose the base model 2.2-litre diesel in favour of the new EcoBlue 2.0-litre four-cylinder found in the updated Transit Custom, though it’s unclear what’ll happen to the five-cylinder (though there’s talk of an EcoBoost V6 petrol in the Raptor model).
“Sales is just one barometer of success: the Ranger is one of our highest customer-satisfaction vehicles, and that’s rewarding to us as well.
“It’s not always about sales, it’s about the critical acclaim. You read comparisons, you read what people have to say about the product, and it’s genuinely a pride point for us, and it has such a great Australian connection as well.
“I think there’s some magic in all that, wrapped up, which will hopefully allow us to continue to deliver a really good pick-up.”