2015 Ford F-150 aluminum kills hope for new Ranger to fight Chevy Colorado
The new 2015 Ford F-150 breaks new ground for the truck market in many ways besides the big news of its aluminum shiny parts. The truck will also have a lighter, stronger frame. It will have a new EcoBoost engine that is not meant to replace the larger V8s of competitors, but rather, to fill the gap just below that level of grunt. The truck also has cool new technology in the cargo bed, lighting, and many other areas. This is great news for full size truck lovers, and conversely, terrible news for Ford fans hoping for a new Ranger compact pickup truck.
Just as Chevy and GMC are launching 2015 Colorado and Canyon compact trucks to take back the market from Toyota’s Tacoma, the folks at Ford are now in a position of moving away from compact trucks for three main reasons.
Aluminum Would Not Work in a Ranger
The first theory I offer is critical to the rest of this argument. That is that a Ranger would not make economic sense right now for Ford. Later maybe, but for the coming five years or so the whole world is going to need to adjust to the fact that Ford is going to use a tremendous amount of aluminum for the 2015 F-150. This is not my idea. I heard the chief engineer for the F-150, Pete Reyes say those words. He specifically said that when Ford met with the worlds’ aluminum producers it was clear that there was not enough capacity– on Earth – to meet the demand. Trying to squeeze more blood from that stone to make a small truck is not in the cards right now.
The Fuel Economy of the 2015 F-150 Would Top Ranger’s
Given the reality that an aluminum Ranger will not work, a new steel Ranger could weigh close to the same as the 2015 F-150’s smaller versions. The main reason for a smaller truck is affordability. Although some do like smaller trucks, there is no business case for them if they are not more fuel efficient by a substantial margin when compared to their siblings on the showroom floor. Sure Ford could make a hybrid or some other un-sellable version to post good fuel economy, but Ford has not done anything that dumb in a long time. Fuel economy is the main reason a new Ranger makes little sense.
CAFE Advantages Lost on Ranger
Tied to the aluminum and fuel economy issue is the reality that a Ranger built mainly for a size would not help the Ford Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) and might actually hurt Ford’s overall rating. Scores are like reading tea leaves, but we do know they are tied to size and wheelbase. A Ranger that does not add to Ford’s CAFE score is never going to happen.
Conclusion – No New Ranger
This case against the Ranger is not made in malice. We have said nothing but good things about the new Chevy Colorado. We think that new compact truck is going to ruin Toyota’s day once sales are established. It is also a shame that a Ranger can’t make sense for now since if it were made of aluminum, and had a decent engine, like the new 2.7 liter EcoBoost it would be a rocket and a fuel sipper.
One last issue could be Ford’s capacity to do too many big things at once. The F-150 is a make or break bet by Ford, and they will succeed. Diluting that effort by looking at a small truck, to sell in much smaller numbers, for no fuel economy gain, was not the kind of questionable move Ford’s outgoing manager was known for making.
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Our thanks to truck expert Tim Esterdahl for his contribution to this story.
Main Story Image is of the last Ford Ranger built in North America - 2011 - Courtesy of Ford Media.