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Market Insight: Ford, the Ranger company

Hot tub: Utes continue to rule the Australian market while the humble hatchback almost dives from view.

Ford Ranger story an Aussie version of how F-series trucks became dominant in the US


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21 Feb 2022

FORD’S success with F-series pick-up trucks has been the linchpin of the company in the United States right back to the 1950s.


It has been the best-selling truck in the US for 45 years and the top-selling vehicle in the US for 40 years straight. It has even been the world’s top-selling vehicle, though since displaced by the Toyota Corolla and RAV4.


To date, North America has made more than 40 million F-series vehicles.


So it is no surprise that while Ford in the US is known more for its F-series utes than much else – okay, there is the Mustang – in Australia the Ford name has become a precursor to the name Ranger.


The Ranger ute is doing to Ford Australia what the F-series did for Ford in its home country. 


Combined 4x2 and 4x4 sales of the Ranger represented 72 per cent of Ford volume in Australia to the end of January this year and 70 per cent for the whole of 2021.


In perspective, the 4x2 and 4x4 Rangers sold 50,279 units in 2021 while the next Ford favourite, the Everest SUV that is based on the Ranger, sold 8359 units (or 17 per cent of the Ranger total). 


In 2015, Everest’s first year on sale in Australia, the wagon-bodied Ranger with rear coil suspension sold 1245 units to make up 1.8 per cent of Ford sales, compared with Focus that commanded 10 per cent.


The rise of the Ranger has been brisk and in line with a growing trend that with the assistance of households that endured the relatively meagre comfort, convenience and safety offerings of dual-cab utes, transitioned these workhorses into a de facto family car.


In 2014, the Ranger held fast as Ford’s most popular model with 26,619 deliveries, representing 33 per cent of the brand’s sales. In the same year, Ford sold 15,116 family-friendly Focus models for 19 per cent of the brand’s total.


By 2017, Ranger sales swelled to 55 per cent of total Ford volume while the audience for small hatchbacks and sedans wearing the Focus badge sunk to 7.6 per cent. 


In 2021, the Focus occupied only 1.03 per cent of Ford sales and the brand’s Australian arm has relegated all variants but the high-performance ST to history.


The Everest has also grown its share of the Australian market but in humble proportions to its Ranger sibling.


It should be noted that the nose-dive of the Focus – attributed to declining buyer interest as well as Ford adjusting its number of imported variants – and rocketing Ranger sales kept the brand on a level sales footing.


That is, the rising Ranger sales did not create incremental rises to the brand’s total sales.


Between 2014 and 2021, Ford’s sales slipped from 79,703 to 71,380 (down 10.5 per cent) despite the 53 per cent hike in Ranger sales and 15 per cent lift in new owners of the Everest.


Much of the key to the focus (no pun intended) on the ute replicates the US trend. The Ranger, like the F-series, is in its base form not very expensive to produce and has the highest profit per unit in the brand’s fleet. Clearly, that is the same in Australia.

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