The reverberations from Ford’s decision to abandon the mid-size truck market are beginning to be felt. The last 2011 Ford Ranger rolled off the assembly line back in December of 2010, and since then, loyal Ranger consumers have been jumping ship in favor or the competition’s mid-size truck offerings. According to some automotive analysts, around half of those who own a Ford Ranger have gone outside of the Blue Oval’s lineup to find a replacement.
Ford doesn’t release its retention rates for public viewing, but the Dearborn-based automaker did give hefty incentives for former Ranger owners to get into anything else in its portfolio. This herded about 40 percent of Ranger owners into a new Ford vehicle. Some owners migrated to the bigger and more capable F-150 while others downsized to an Escape or a Focus. At the same time, other former Ranger owners left the Blue Oval brand entirely in favor of what Nissan and Toyota offer in the mid-size truck market. Of those who left Ford to see what the competition is offering, around 29 percent cross-shopped the Toyota Tacoma and the Nissan Frontier. This hasn’t deterred Ford from standing firm on its decision to cease production of the Ranger though, for now anyway.
“We are retaining some Ranger buyers, with the bulk of them moving to F-Series and Escape,” said Erich Merkle, Ford’s U.S. sales analyst to The Detroit News. “As for the compact pickup segment, it has become a much smaller part of the overall industry over the last 12 years.”
Many people still question why Ford left the mid-size truck segment, because even as it declines, there’s still a demand. The compact, or mid-size pickup market as it’s also known as, has been shrinking over the past decade or so, and Ranger sales reflect that. Currently, the mid-size truck market only accounts for two percent of the overall market in the United States. During the course of 30 years in production, the Ranger saw 6.6 million units assembled and out the door, but that came crashing to the ground in the latter part of last decade. This can be attributed to the extra incentives and a small price gap between the full-size F-150 and the mid-size Ranger. This blurred line pushed many potential Ranger buyers into an F-150 and resulted in the end of production for the mid-size truck.
Even as the mid-size truck market continues to diminish, there’s still a niche’ out there, one that Nissan, Toyota, and possibly even Chrysler are looking to accommodate. During the first six months of 2012, the Tacoma, Frontier, and even the Chevrolet Colorado, which will be redesigned for the 2013 model year, all posted sales gains.
Automotive.com’s take: People were attracted to the Ranger because of its price tag, which originally was cheaper than an F-150, and the truck’s smaller stature. Now, the full-size F-150 closes the price gap and offers comparable fuel economy, so in times when the financial belt needed to be tighten, it’s obvious why the Ranger was cut, and a drastic dip in sales reflected that.
So what say you? Should Ford have killed off the Ranger, or should it have continued on with production? Tell us in the comment section below.
Source: The Detroit News