Executives at the Ford Motor Company [NYSE:F] are racing to work out a solution to free-falling full-size SUV and pickup truck sales, and a temporary solution may come in the form of the already long-in-the-tooth Ranger. Shifting the F-150's sales focus to workplace and industrial use could also help give legs to its one-time sales leader.
A similar strategy has worked to keep the archaic Crown Victoria on the road essentially unchanged for the better part of the past decade. Fleet sales to taxi services and police forces have been the main source of Crown Victoria sales, and after the 2008 model year, the only outlet. Taking a similar angle with the all-new F-150, hardly an automotive dinosaur, may seem premature, but big luxury trucks just aren't finding homes in the current market.
Instead of building out a line of loaded four-door trucks, Ford will focus on the stripped-down two-door models that have long been favorites among farmers, construction workers and other tradespeople, reports the Detroit Free Press.
Ford had planned to cut the Ranger from production and shut down its plant in 2009, but the fuel crunch may have gained it a reprieve. Continued production of the current-generation Ranger could give Ford a cheap to produce, more fuel-efficient alternative to its full-size F-150 for consumers that still need pickup functionality. Delaying sales of the redesigned Ranger until at least 2011, when the new global Ranger will be ready, will let the company free up resources for more car production, which is where the future of the company likely lies.
Other casualties of the pickup truck realignment at Ford include the SVT Raptor, a high-performance consumer-oriented F-150, to be powered by a 6.2-liter V-8 that will also likely never see production. Ford isn't giving up on trucks entirely, however, with two new models below the F-150 possibly in the works.