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2011 Ford Ranger (Ford FORD)
2011 Ford Ranger (Ford FORD)

You & Your Car

Why the Ford Ranger is riding off into the sunset Add to ...

I just heard that Ford is no longer selling the Ranger. Why is that? It is the only small pickup still available. I see Rangers everywhere so obviously they are popular. You’d think Ford would want that business, especially since there is no competition. – Ralph in New Brunswick

I couldn’t agree more. This appears to be one of these cases where we get what Americans want.

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Our dear friends south of the border don’t like small pickups, at least not in sufficient numbers to get the attention of the bean counters in Dearborn. The decision to end production of the Ranger comes straight from Detroit and, I’m told, over the protestations of Ford of Canada.

The Canadian love affair with the Ranger began with its launch in 1983 and continues unabated to this day. Canadians bought 13,000 Rangers for the first nine months of 2011 compared to 7,200 Explorers, 3,900 Mustangs, 2,700 Taurus, 2,200 Flex(s), 1,300 Expeditions and 500 Lincoln Navigators. But to put things in perspective they also bought 75,000 F-150s.

The plant where the Ranger is built, the Twin Cities Assembly plant alongside the Mississippi River in St. Paul, Minn., is the oldest Ford production facility in operation, dating back to 1924. That will come to an end in December when the last Ranger rolls off the line.

I’m sure that was a business decision, that keeping a plant going to produce the Ranger did not make economic sense. If it was a case of updating the Ranger with a new more fuel-efficient drivetrain that would have been a no-brainer. Ford has a raft of efficient new four- and six-cylinder engines and five- and six-speed transmissions that could have been put to use with minimal fuss and engineering.

Pickups don’t face the same crash tests as passenger cars so any changes required there would have been relatively simple. No, it appears the rampant, by our standards, demand for Rangers in this country, doesn’t justify building them. And don’t get your hopes up for a replacement – the only pickups Ford builds other than the F-Series come from Australia.

That will be the source of a new “small” Ford pickup to be sold in more than 180 markets around the globe starting this year – but not in Canada or the United States. Apparently it is too close to the F-Series in size and production costs to warrant our attention.

General Motors has announced a replacement for the Chevrolet Colorado/GMC Canyon, which is slightly larger than the Ranger. Developed in Brazil and to be sold globally, it will reach the market first in Thailand and come here in 2013.

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