One thing nearly every automotive enthusiast can agree on, is that the small to midsize truck market in North America is severely lacking. The average price for a new Ford F-150 is Over $40,000. Trucks continue to shift from utility vehicles to luxury vehicles. With options, a new F-150 can be had for over $70,000. Many are demanding the return of an affordable, smaller truck. Ford already sells this truck, still badged as the ranger, in other markets around the world. So why not here? There are many reasons, so lets take a look at what the potential return of the Ranger can mean.
Why Did The Small Truck Leave?
When people look for luxury, they don’t turn to the land boat Cadillac or Lincoln anymore, they look to large SUVs or crossovers. This trend started with the explosion of SUVs. It didn’t take long before luxury spilled over into trucks. With vehicles reaching their limits in terms of what can be towed, manufacturers had to find some other way to compete for best in class trucks. This lead to an arms race of truxury vehicles, trucks that are sold with every option for well over fifty thousand dollars. These truxury vehicles came a long at just the right time, and while a sixty-five thousand dollar F-150 might sound outrageous, the general public didn’t seem to think so.
The profit margins on these truxury vehicles is much higher than any other vehicle manufacturers offer. Not only are the profit margins good, but vehicles like the F-150 are regularly Ford’s top selling vehicle, and it has been that way for over 50 years. So when you combine a market asking for expensive vehicles, and companies that can make them with a huge profit margin, selling anything else sort of falls by the wayside.
And that’s exactly what happened. As soon as major manufacturers realized people were lining up to buy a sixty thousand dollar truck but not a twenty thousand dollar truck, the priorities shifted. This model doesn’t work everywhere (for obvious reasons) and so the small truck market was shifted to developing markets. Today, Ford still makes the Ranger, but you won’t see a new one here. It should be as simple as importing one from one of those developing markets then right?
Wrong. Thanks to an antiquated tariff on potato starch, dextrin, brandy, and light trucks, importing these vehicles is not financially possible. This tariff was introduced in 1963 and placed a 25% tariff on importing those goods into North America. Light trucks were originally included to protect the truck market of the day from foreign competition, something that’s ironic given that now all domestic light trucks occupy foreign markets. Under this tariff, the small truck is no long an economic option to import to North America. With domestic makers no longer seeing the value in building small trucks here, and it being too costly to import them, the small truck market has all but vanished.
Awaiting The Return
Since people started realizing that spending upwards of sixty thousand dollars on something they want to throw old lumber in the back of might not be the best idea, the demand for the small truck market has slowly been resurfacing.
Recently, Ford announced that some of their product lines may be moving from Michigan to Mexico. This frees up space, and word has gotten out that Ford doesn’t plan on simply abandoning the factories, but rather using them to release a new product line. It has been 5 years since a Ranger has been sold new in North America, and with demand skyrocketing, the time seems right for the small truck market to once again take centre stage.
General Motors has recently brought back their wildly successful canyon and colorado models of vehicles, which used to compete against the Ranger for sales. They have proved that in modern times, there is more than a small demand for the light truck market to make a comeback, and that this market should no longer be ignored. With concepts on the horizon from companies like Hyundai, the small truck market is one that should be watched closely in the coming months, as it’s very likely to heat up much like the SUV market did years ago.
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