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Ford's Maverick Has Found A Clearly Needed Marketing Niche

Ford had a major introduction today. In the second big intro this year, the automaker debuted the compact Maverick pickup Hybrid. Torque News covered it extensively. In this piece, we discuss some of the potential origins of the compact pickup and talk about it as a "standard" model.
Posted: October 21, 2021 - 10:35PM
Author: Marc Stern

If you have watched Nickelodeon over the last few years, you probably tripped across an ancient cartoon series featuring a pooch and his faithful kid (I admit I saw the first versions of this when it appeared on commercial TV). It was funny, to be honest. Its humor has lasted over 60 years of history (it's still making people laugh where it is still on the tube).

While we are discussing some of the potential avenues that brought about today's major Maverick moment from a marketing and mechanical aspect, Senior Torque News Reporter John Goreham discusses today's major Maverick moment.

Using An Oldie, But A Goodie

Anyway, I mention it because they used a "Way-Back Machine" to take their trips through time and to visit interesting places where they also managed to find their share of trouble and get out of it. Instead of letting our TV stars use the Way-Back, let's jump on it ourselves and go back about nearly 40 years to the time when the first small pickup, the Ford Ranger, appeared. The year was 1982, and the market accepted the small pickup very nicely.

The Ranger remained in the Ford lineup until 2011. The Ranger was marketed as a compact pickup through its 29 years on the market (three generations). Sales of the Ranger were strong until the last few years, culminating in 2011 when Ford decided to shut down production of the Ranger. The shutdown lasted about eight years until the Ranger nameplate reappeared as a midsized pickup, slotted below the F-150.

Looking at the midsized pickup market, it becomes very apparent that when Ford discontinued the Ranger in 2011, the automaker eventually realized it was losing a vital segment of a market that it helped create. By 2019, it seemed very apparent that Ford needed a midsized model, so the Ranger nameplate reappeared. It had some healthy competition. The competition included the Chevy Colorado, the GMC Canyon (corporate twins), the Nissan Frontier, the Toyota Tacoma, the Jeep Gladiator, and the Honda Ridgeline.

And, here is something that seems interesting. Apparently, Ford's marketing team looked at the smaller pickup segment closely. They believed they found another untapped segment. It was an apparent "Back to the Future" moment. The automaker's marketing team saw that the compact pickup market was waiting to burst wide open as it had years earlier.

Ranger Team Apparently Sees Major Market Hole

The marketing team probably saw what it considered a glaring hole in the pickup market, the area below the Ranger. They found pent-up demand for a pickup with a wheelbase in the 121-inch category and an overall length of 200 inches. Granted, some of the midsized pickups we are discussing right now may seem to be similarly sized, but, the market Ford was seeing was smaller and more inexpensive than the Ford Rangers of the world. In general, midsized pickups sell for between $30,000 and $50,000 (or a bit more).

The marketing hole didn't last long. Ford's marketing team filled it with the Maverick, introduced last June. Almost immediately, the Maverick amassed thousands of reservations from anxious buyers who were waiting for an affordable – really affordable – pickup.

This is where the Maverick shines. With an entry-level price point in the $26,000-$28,000 range, the Maverick XL model is ready to take off when they finally get out there in numbers. Indeed, September saw the first sales of the first strong sales of Maverick.

Rather than discussing today's Maverick Hybrid introduction, we will concentrate on the "standard model. Here's what you get from the "standard" Maverick. Under the sheet metal (mild steel panels), you will find a vehicle that is quite similar to the Ford Bronco Sport. Indeed, the Ford Authority made a detailed comparison of the Sport and the Maverick. They found that the vehicles are nearly identical from the B-pillar forward. Both use unibody construction. Ford calls it the C2 platform, (the Ranger, by comparison, is a traditional body-on-frame model).

Some Interesting Specifications

The Maverick is about 200 inches in overall length and roughly 73 inches wide. The width shows there is overlap between the compact and midsized segments. Midsized pickups, for instance, are just an inch or two wider than the compact Maverick. The difference between the compact and midsized truck segments is overall length. The midsized market is roughly 230 inches overall. This is more than a-foot-and-a-half longer than the compact Maverick.

There are a total of four pricing points for the Maverick. The base level is the XL; The next level is the XLT. The top levels are both labeled Lariat and the Lariat First Edition.

Marc Stern has been an automotive writer since 1971 when an otherwise normal news editor said, "You're our new car editor," and dumped about 27 pounds of auto stuff on my desk. I was in heaven as I have been a gearhead from my early days. As a teen, I spent the usual number of misspent hours hanging out at gas stations Shell and Texaco (a big thing in my youth) and working on cars. From there on, it was a straight line to my first column for the paper, "You Auto Know," an enterprise that I handled faithfully for 32 years. Not many people know that I also handled computer documentation for a good part of my living while writing YAN. My best writing, though, was always in cars. My work has appeared in Popular Mechanics, Mechanix Illustrated, AutoWeek, SuperStock, Trailer Life, Old Cars Weekly, Special Interest Autos, and others. You can follow me on: Twitter or Facebook.