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Ford Ranger ‘headed to the US’

Trucking on: The Australian-developed Ford Everest will possibly join the Ranger ute on a Michigan production line from 2018.

Despite denials, Aussie-developed Ranger in the frame to be built in US from 2018

27 Aug 2015

FORD reportedly is laying plans to build the next generation of the Australian-developed Ford Ranger in the United States to bolster its pick-up fortunes in North America.

The decision is potentially good news for the Melbourne-based Ford Asia-Pacific Vehicle Development Centre whose engineering and design teams are already working the next-generation Ranger and related Everest SUV.

Currently not sold in North America, the Ranger might well become a key vehicle in Ford’s biggest market where new offerings from General Motors and Toyota dominate the growing mid-sized pick-up segment.

Ford Motor Company vice-president of product development for Asia-Pacific Trevor Worthington recently told GoAuto that there were no plans to sell either the Ranger or the Everest in the US, but that ultimately it was a question for the Americans to answer.

“The beauty of this process is that we have a portfolio of SUV product globally and truck products globally but it’s really up to individual markets to look at their competitive sets and decide what fits best," he said at the launch of the Everest.

Ford Australia today declined to comment further on the “speculative story”.

The Ranger is built in four locations – Thailand, South Africa, Argentina and Nigeria – and sold in 180 countries around the world. Everest is made alongside the Ranger in Thailand, as well as in China where it is due to go on sale in the next few weeks.

Without a mid-size pick-up in the US market since 2009, Ford is reportedly negotiating with the powerful Union of Auto Workers (UAW) to bring Ranger production into its Michigan plant from 2018.

The plant, which produces 235,000 vehicles a year and employs 4500 workers in one of the country’s most economically troubled states, currently builds the Focus hatch and C-Max people-mover, including hybrid and electric versions of both cars.

With production of both Focus and C-Max likely to move to Mexico, the plant could be retooled for production of Ranger and its Everest brethren, according to a Detroit News report.

Some US journalists suggest the Everest could be the basis of a reborn Bronco, after Ford applied for a trademark application for Bronco in February.

The plant received a $700 million makeover in the wake of the global financial crisis of 2009 to allow it to produce low-emissions vehicles.

The Ranger would sit beneath the recently renewed F-150 truck range, which is Ford’s most popular seller in the US.

However, the latest F-Series has had a mixed reception from buyers, helping General Motors to outsell Ford in full-sized pick-ups in the first half of this year.

The introduction of the current-generation, mid-sized Chevrolet Colorado and Toyota’s Tacoma utes over the past 12 months has exacerbated the situation.

While the mid-sized pick-up segment is growing, it still represents just 2.1 per cent of the US market.

The Ranger nameplate has a strong history in the US, where it notched up 6.5 million sales over 29 years.

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