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Ford Feels Push to Return to Midsize Trucks
Ranger, Bronco SUV possible as rivals nab sales
Automotive News | August 29,2015


Ford has said the Ranger is too close to the F-150, but dealers say a gap has opened.

DETROIT — Nobody buys small pickups anymore. Nobody wants a truck-based SUV, either.

That was the thinking just a few years ago for many automakers, including Ford Motor Co.

But Ford executives apparently have changed their tune, as gasoline and oil prices plunge, truck sales soar and discretionary buyers return to the market in droves. Ford and its dealers have become restless on the sidelines as General Motors sells every midsize pickup it can build and Jeep makes bank month after month.

“It would be nice to have a piece of that,” said Kevin Shaughnessy, general manager of Phil Long Ford of Denver.

He and other U.S. dealers were fired up earlier this week to hear Ford is considering a plan to revive the Ranger pickup and a related SUV that it could call the Bronco.

“I think there is still a market of people that, outside of fuel economy, would just like something that’s more maneuverable and easier to park” than the F-150, Shaughnessy said. In terms of an SUV, he said there’s significant demand for something “more rugged than the grocery getters,” especially one carrying the “iconic” Bronco name.

As part of its contract talks with the UAW, Ford has discussed building a midsize pickup and SUV at its Michigan Assembly Plant in suburban Detroit as soon as 2018, a person with knowledge of the talks said.

In doing so, Ford would reverse one of the signature moves of its transformation during the recession by shifting Michigan Assembly back to body-on-frame trucks. The plant used to churn out big Ford Expeditions and F-150s, Lincoln Navigators and, yes, Broncos before being retooled for the small cars and hybrids the company saw as the key to its future success.

Now, Ford is moving the Focus and C-Max from Michigan Assembly to another country, likely Mexico, and relishing the thought of stocking dealer lots with a wider variety of high-profit trucks.

“The volumes are just too big to ignore, so you’ve got to take a serious look at the opportunity,” said Larry Dominique, executive vice president of industry solutions at TrueCar and former head of product planning at Nissan North America. “They’ve got great brand equity. They would definitely have a draw just based on that brand alone.”

But Dominique warns that the midsize pickup segment, while resurgent today, could easily get oversupplied by the time a new Ranger would arrive. U.S. sales are up 52 percent through July, even before a redesigned Toyota Tacoma and Nissan Frontier arrive.

Fiat Chrysler, which abandoned midsize pickups in 2011 at the same time as Ford, could get back in the segment with a Jeep Wrangler-based pickup. Jeep brand head Mike Manley has said repeatedly that a Wrangler-based pickup would be a valuable addition to his lineup. A green light for its final development is awaiting an announcement from FCA about what it has decided to do to expand Wrangler production in Toledo, Ohio.

“It’s going to be very quickly evident that the segment has a limitation,” Dominique said.

Room below F-150?

Another challenge for Ford is how to sell a Ranger without eroding sales of Ford’s most lucrative nameplate, the F-150. Ford already sells a Ranger in nearly 200 global markets, but executives repeatedly have said it’s too close in size and price to the F-150 to work in North America.

But as the F-150 has gotten larger and more costly — transaction prices for the F-series lineup now average $44,000 — dealers say a gap has emerged for the Ranger to fill.

“To bring it back and have an exciting, competitive product would be well-received,” said Mitchell Dale, president of McRee Ford in Dickinson, Texas. GM’s “success with their product has certainly made us aware that there is a market out there.”

Likewise, Ford’s conversion of the Explorer to a unibody crossover in 2010, while successful for that nameplate, has left a spot in its lineup for a more traditional SUV now that fuel economy is less of a priority for many shoppers.

“The previous Bronco buyers were loyal customers,” Dale said. “The Bronco would be a vehicle that would help us not only maintain good, loyal Ford customers, but it would give us a conquest vehicle to compete against similar vehicles like Jeep. I’m bullish on both of them.”

More at Automotive News
 

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It could be that a new 'Broncho' would more be designed to compete with the Jeep Wrangler.


Which could have a new Ford Broncho looking more like a next gen larger Troller 'T6' for the US market, that currently rides on a version of the Global Ranger platform and would benefit by higher Ranger volume. This offering would need to match Wrangler capability. Ford has had years to work out the details in South America, and now it's time to bring a larger, next gen model to the US. Right now, Wranger is running away with sales in the US and in China, and it looks like Ford want's a piece of the action.
 

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Damnit, Ford, literally all I want is the Everest. If I had the dough right now, I'd ship one here and get it registered (if legal).
 

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Damnit, Ford, literally all I want is the Everest. If I had the dough right now, I'd ship one here and get it registered (if legal).
I am thinking Ford should bring the Everest and the T4(Broncho) to the states.
 

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I am thinking Ford should bring the Everest and the T4(Broncho) to the states.
CAFE screws that, really. I just want one of them. I'd rather have the Everest so I can DD it and have the comfort, but I'd probably still buy the T4 if I could. All I want is a rugged 4X4 from Ford that I can daily. I love the Raptor and the F150 in general, but I have an F250 and would like to try something different.
 

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The next US-built Ranger is not T9 based and not what you think it is.
It isn't that unibody thing we heard a rumour about earlier, is it?

Based on the deliberate vagueness of your post, I assume you have some source or insider knowledge about the supposed next Ranger, and just can't wait to tell us more... Right!? LOL
 

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"In terms of an SUV, he said there’s significant demand for something “more rugged than the grocery getters,”"

*Rant Alert*

This is hard to believe. We all know that most people who bought Explorers in the past two decades or so did NOT need that much off road capability or general BOF-ness. I realize that there was an elite, rugged group that DID use their Explorers, and Broncos before that, for true, rugged purposes, and I would be happy for them if a BOF Bronco (which would presumably be an Everest copy or a mild reworking of it) was revived. Besides that, though, most American SUV users are grocery getters, and I don't want to see them caught up in another big, BOF, gas guzzling, unnecessary SUV craze. People can romanticise all they want, but the truth is, the Explorer is, and will be for some time, the logical choice for the majority of SUV buyers.
 

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"In terms of an SUV, he said there’s significant demand for something “more rugged than the grocery getters,”"

*Rant Alert*

This is hard to believe. We all know that most people who bought Explorers in the past two decades or so did NOT need that much off road capability or general BOF-ness. I realize that there was an elite, rugged group that DID use their Explorers, and Broncos before that, for true, rugged purposes, and I would be happy for them if a BOF Bronco (which would presumably be an Everest copy or a mild reworking of it) was revived. Besides that, though, most American SUV users are grocery getters, and I don't want to see them caught up in another big, BOF, gas guzzling, unnecessary SUV craze. People can romanticise all they want, but the truth is, the Explorer is, and will be for some time, the logical choice for the majority of SUV buyers.
Absolutely. However .... if you build something with the intention of it being a niche product (e.g. Wrangler) you build that margin into it. You build a brand around it. The problem for Explorer was that for its continued existence as a "success" it needed to keep selling in troves -- it could not become a niche player -- that was not the Explorer brand. Explorer needed to go where the market moved -- grocery getter. However, bringing over a niche high-margin offroader maybe even with clear signs that this is not a grocery getter (see Wrangler) can make this a (niche) hit.

I would be very ,VERY surprised if ford released anything that is not related to the Global Ranger (T6 or next gen), the F150, or both. Without link to these two vehicles the US Ranger / Bronco / Whatever makes no economic sense. However, if Ford replicates Toyota and simply sells global FOB midsize SUV and truck in the US (see Tacoma and 4Runner), the simple economies of scale will make it easy for a niche Bronco / niche SUV to live in the US for long time.
 

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Okay my turn to sort of rant. Ford won't bring a mainstream BOF SUV back. As much as I'd like that, it probably won't happen. But if there's one thing Ford is exceptional at, it's excelling within a niche or starting a trend. They do it more than any other brand IMHO, especially recently. The 1964 Mustang was one of the first iterations of this "outside the box" thinking. Obviously the 70s effed everything up, but soon enough there was a Mustang with a four cylinder turbo that outperformed the 5.0 of the same year. A muscle car with a turbo 4 was new to the big three if I recall correctly, and it was BAD fast, even if sales numbers weren't too hot. Things lulled a bit when the Japs were eating our lunch when it came to cars, but we knew what we could do right: TRUCKS. So Ford went and made a luxury truck-based full sized SUV. The Navigator STARTED that segment, even if it has lost some steam. Then they lowered an F150 and slapped a Cobra engine in it and called it a lightning. A performance truck. And it's legendary. Before that even, Ford took the fight to the Japs with the Taurus. Within that segment they excelled in the press with their SHO variant, proving again how differently they thought, and the actual Taurus sold like hotcakes. Then they were one of the first to adopt a unibody CUV (around when Lexus put out the first RX) for the mainstream market, along with Honda and Toyota with their CRVs and Rav4s respectively. This was the Escape, which has now become one of the best selling nameplates around. Then came the Ford GT, where Ford showed they cold throw all their chips in on a hand and play with the likes of Ferrari if they so desired.

But now that Ford has improved greatly, they are again showing their prowess within the niche markets. The Focus ST was a huge success here in the states, bringing the fight to the established company within that segment, and soon the Fiesta ST followed and the Focus RS thereafter. Ford showed they had the ability to exploit this niche that the other two American brands stayed away from and continue to be absent from. Don't forget they did something that makes no sense. They made a freaking F150 that can take jumps from the factory, look sexy as ****, cost a gazillion dollars, and out-badass anything on the road. And it sold WELL.

Now they are diversifying their niche market, launching Ford Performance. With such a legacy, is it that hard to image they may cook up a Wrangler-fighter since their niche products always seem to succeed?
 

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A Broncho targeted at the Wrangler market would better serve Ford, and limit product overlap on the SUV side. A Broncho would also have to be more aggressively designed like Wrangler than the soft Everest, that's the Explorer for other markets. A two and 4 door model would work.

Jeep can't make enough Wranglers globally, and a Jeep midsize pick-up is on the way too.
 

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Okay my turn to sort of rant. Ford won't bring a mainstream BOF SUV back. As much as I'd like that, it probably won't happen. But if there's one thing Ford is exceptional at, it's excelling within a niche or starting a trend. They do it more than any other brand IMHO, especially recently. The 1964 Mustang was one of the first iterations of this "outside the box" thinking. Obviously the 70s effed everything up, but soon enough there was a Mustang with a four cylinder turbo that outperformed the 5.0 of the same year. A muscle car with a turbo 4 was new to the big three if I recall correctly, and it was BAD fast, even if sales numbers weren't too hot. Things lulled a bit when the Japs were eating our lunch when it came to cars, but we knew what we could do right: TRUCKS. So Ford went and made a luxury truck-based full sized SUV. The Navigator STARTED that segment, even if it has lost some steam. Then they lowered an F150 and slapped a Cobra engine in it and called it a lightning. A performance truck. And it's legendary. Before that even, Ford took the fight to the Japs with the Taurus. Within that segment they excelled in the press with their SHO variant, proving again how differently they thought, and the actual Taurus sold like hotcakes. Then they were one of the first to adopt a unibody CUV (around when Lexus put out the first RX) for the mainstream market, along with Honda and Toyota with their CRVs and Rav4s respectively. This was the Escape, which has now become one of the best selling nameplates around. Then came the Ford GT, where Ford showed they cold throw all their chips in on a hand and play with the likes of Ferrari if they so desired.

But now that Ford has improved greatly, they are again showing their prowess within the niche markets. The Focus ST was a huge success here in the states, bringing the fight to the established company within that segment, and soon the Fiesta ST followed and the Focus RS thereafter. Ford showed they had the ability to exploit this niche that the other two American brands stayed away from and continue to be absent from. Don't forget they did something that makes no sense. They made a freaking F150 that can take jumps from the factory, look sexy as ****, cost a gazillion dollars, and out-badass anything on the road. And it sold WELL.

Now they are diversifying their niche market, launching Ford Performance. With such a legacy, is it that hard to image they may cook up a Wrangler-fighter since their niche products always seem to succeed?
This is a great summary of Ford's iniciatives. The last one is the "sleek and beautyful family sedan", the new Fusion, that started a trend in the segment.

The return of the Bronco could be a great opportunity for Ford. A medium size rugged BOF RWD 4 doors SUV had its fans. Ford could make some profits with it.
 

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This is a great summary of Ford's iniciatives. The last one is the "sleek and beautyful family sedan", the new Fusion, that started a trend in the segment.

The return of the Bronco could be a great opportunity for Ford. A medium size rugged BOF RWD 4 doors SUV had its fans. Ford could make some profits with it.
Agreed. The 2007 Mondeo was hugely ahead of its time, ultimately leading to what we have now.

Bronco market is not dead. You will (hopefully) all see, if it happens. I will put my money where my mouth is and buy one.
 

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"bzcat" is one of my most respected posters @ BON
so I'm borrowing his speculation:


  1. I don't think there will be a 2 door Bronco. The short wheel base creates too much CAFE headache and the market appear is limited.
  2. I don't think there will be a Bronco truck in addition to Ranger... Not enough room for both.
  3. I don't think there will be a Lincoln version of T6 SUV... Unlike Ford, Lincoln really doesn't have room for another midsize SUV, especially a BOF one that has fallen out of favor with luxury car buyers.
  4. I think there will be a CUV smaller than Escape for sale at Ford dealer in the US by 2018 or so... whether or not there is a T6 SUV. "Bronco" could refer to either vehicle in my opinion.
C3 SWB "Bronco"
C3 LWB Escape
CD4 Edge
T7 Everest (or "Bronco")
CD6 Explorer
P5 SWB Expedition
P5 LWB Expedition
 
C3 LWB MKC
CD4 MKX
CD6 Aviator
P5 SWB Navigator
P5 LWB Navigator​
 
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