The all-new 2019 Ford Ranger is now open for configuring and reservations. It enters production next month and deliveries will begin in early 2019. As the new Ranger enters its new generation, we feel it is worth running down the list of other non-Ford brands that might benefit the most from having a new re-badged Ranger in its showrooms.
Rebadged vehicles can be a big help to a brand in need of specific segment-filler, but who don't have the budget, factory space in North America, or the possible long-term sales opportunities to go it alone. Toyota and Subaru are collaborating on the 86 and BR-Z and Mazda and Fiat are working together on the Miata and Spider. There are fans for every version of these four vehicles and re-badging has no stigma in most shoppers' minds. Many don't even realize the scope of the collaboration.
The obvious brands to exclude are all of GM's brands, Toyota, Nissan, and Honda. Each has its own midsized pickup right now.
In the past, Ford worked with Mazda to rebadge the Ranger so that Mazda could have sales of a small pickup (which is now a midsized pickup). That was when Ford and Mazda had a close relationship. Although Mazda would be the biggest beneficiary of such a partnership, we don't think it will happen. Mazda is now closely aligned with Toyota and is even sharing factories in North America. Getting in bed with Ford seems unlikely.
Subaru would be a huge beneficiary. Subaru has broken out of its "small manufacturer" phase and is headed towards being a more major player. With a pickup in its showroom, Subaru could gain added sales, added exposure, and could even stick to "all-wheel-drive" versions to keep its mantra in play.
Mitsubishi would be an easy answer to the question about who would benefit most. It is one of America's smallest brands, has moved away from cars, and is not even close to being able to cost-effectively launch a truck in America.
Volkswagen would also be an easy fit. VW wants a truck and has been showing off concepts at car shows. VW's money troubles from the dieselgate fiasco makes a new factory for a new U.S.-built truck unlikely. That means a re-badged Ranger would be a possibility.
Under different circumstances, Ram would be a good fit too. However, Ram is too proud. It killed its Dakota back when Ram was Dodge at precisely the wrong time in history. Ram also has the capacity to go it alone and sales have been robust. Ram will do a midsize truck, but not with Ford.
If we had to guess which brands might end up in a partnership with Ford in order, our list would be; Volkswagen, Subaru, Mitsubishi, and Mazda last. What brand do you think might end up with a re-badged Ranger on its lots?