The small/mid-size truck mqarket has been drying up the last few years as Ford, GM, Toyota and Chrysler have been discounting the heck out of full-size pickups, making the smaller trucks undesirable.
Ford is planning on closing the Minnesota plant where the Ranger and Mazda B-Series trucks are built. The solution for answering what’s left of demand for the smaller trucks is to offer a new truck based on the regularly updated F-Series chassis.
Seems like a good idea, but it will all be in the execution. The truck is expected to be a 6-cylinder (the 2009 F Series discontinues the 6 cylinder offering), and slightly smaller than the big brother. It will probably be called the F100 and carry Ford’s new eco-boost engine.
Automakers are under pressure to increase fuel economy across the board, and especially trucks and SUVs. The market for smaller trucks, though, is very hard to predict, making a full-on replacement for the Ranger a hard case to make to Ford’s accountants. We all know that fuel economy is going to remain a big issue. But it’s hard to know how much functionality truck buyers will sacrifice for better fuel economy in 2010-2015.
Ford is anticipating that more full-size truck buyers are going to trade down from gas thirsty big trucks if they can. And Ford can’t afford to lose that unknown number of buyers to Toyota and Dodge, not to mention newcomer Mahindra & Mahindra (entering the market in 2010 with clean diesel small trucks).