Will Ford Replace The Ranger With “F150 Light?”
Domestic automakers Ford, GM, and Chrysler are in trouble. After building their financial futures around the sale of full-size pickup trucks and SUV’s for decades, an increase in fuel prices combined with the sluggish American economy have conspired to slow the sales of these vehicles to a trickle. Chrysler sales are off amid rumors of bankruptcy, GM and Ford stock has seen record lows, and Ford’s F150 appears as though it will lose the crown of “best selling vehicle in North America” to the Toyota Camry.
Ford has realized that it is looking more and more like they will be unable to count on the dollars flowing in from F150 sales. At the same time, Ford understands (perhaps better than anyone else) that there will always be a market for pickup trucks. The company has begun to explore the idea of splitting the F150 into two distinct products in order to meet the needs of a wider range of buyers. The idea is to keep the current full-size F150 while also offering a smaller truck to attract buyers who do not require the full towing or hauling capabilities of the F150.
Will America like the F150 light as much as this guy likes the Coors light girls behind him?
We know what you’re saying – Ford already has a smaller truck to attract buyers that don’t require full towing and hauling. It’s called the Ranger. Unfortunately, the Ranger platform is nearing the end of its life-cycle and Ford has shown little interest in keeping this truck alive. Instead, it seems that Ford is interested in adding a light-duty version of the F150. To this end, it has been leaked to the press that a vehicle named the F100 will be marketed as sort of an “almost full-size” version of the F150 within the next 4 years.
Ford’s original F100 debuted in 1953, and continued as the base model Ford until it was dropped in 1983. The 1965 F100 (pictured above) was the first model to wear the Ranger nameplate. Will the F100 again carry the Ranger nameplate when the current Ranger model is phased out in 2009?
The F100 will be based on the same platform as the F150, only it will use a lighter version of the chassis in order to keep overall weight down and fuel mileage up. The vehicle will resemble the F150 in terms of exterior styling, but the overall look will supposedly draw more from the full-size Expedition SUV than from the pickup.
Another significant difference between the upcoming F100 and the F150 will be the choice of available engines: there may not be a V8 in the F100, but the possibility of buyers getting a version of Ford’s direct-injection, turbocharged EcoBoost V6 seems to be high. The EcoBoost engines deliver a good amount of horsepower while still remaining efficient enough to improve on the fuel economy of the heavier F150. This information is of course still largely conjecture, given that the vehicle itself will most likely not see production until after 2010.
Ford is taking a risk with this plan to kill a strong seller (the Ranger) while also creating a downsized version an American trucking icon. Toyota experimented with a full-size pickup that flowed from a similar “90 percent” philosophy for many years before giving up and turning the Tundra into the beast it is today. Toyota’s decision to”supersize” the 1st gen Tundra resulted in greater sales and more market share. While there is no question that Ford can reduce costs by finding a way to standardize platforms and share parts between the F150 and the F100, cutting costs isn’t really the question.
The issue at hand is whether buyers will be interested in a pickup truck that’s just a little less capable than its bigger brother, even though it looks nearly the same.
Filed Under: Auto News