2017 Ford Ranger (Australian spec)Enlarge Photo
Ford in January finally confirmed it is bringing back the Bronco and Ranger.
The Ranger will come first, as Ford’s alternative to mid-size pickups like the Chevrolet Colorado, GMC Canyon, Honda Ridgeline, Nissan Frontier and Toyota Tacoma. It will be an updated version of the Ranger currently on sale overseas and is due to start production at Ford’s Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne, Michigan in late 2018.
The Bronco will be an SUV derivative based on the same body-on-frame platform of the Ranger and is due to start production at the Michigan Assembly Plant in 2020. Ford promises the Bronco will be a true four-wheel-drive vehicle with a decidedly off-road focus, though it’s not clear if it will be a proper Jeep Wrangler rival or something more like the current Ranger-based Everest SUV sold globally (shown below).
2016 Ford EverestEnlarge Photo
Ford says it will spend $850 million in plant upgrades to support production of the two vehicles. Most of the funds will go towards new tooling which will take just four weeks to install.
Strong demand for SUVs and pickup trucks across North America is what prompted Ford to finally bring back these two iconic nameplates. The automaker says mid-size pickup truck sales have grown almost 50 percent in the past five years, while over that same time period rugged SUVs have proven to be the second fastest-growing SUV segment.
With the announcement of the Michigan Assembly Plant upgrades, Ford has now announced $1.9 billion in new investments in Michigan in the past three months alone. In January, Ford announced a $700 million upgrade of its Flat Rock plant to prepare it for electric car developments. The automaker has also announced investments in its Romeo Engine Plant which produces, among other things, the 5.2-liter V-8 fitted to the Mustang Shelby GT350 models. In addition, Ford is investing in expanding a data center to prepare it for new mobility services and technology related to self-driving cars.