With union negotiations in full swing and an upcoming presidential election hanging the thought that jobs are moving to Mexico, a UAW official has let it slip that the Ford Ranger mid-sized pickup and an SUV derivative are returning to production.
“We hate to see the products go to Mexico, but with the Ranger and the Bronco coming to Michigan Assembly, that absolutely secures the future for our people a lot more than the Focus does,” said UAW Local 900 chairman Bill Johnson in an interview with The Detroit Free Press.
Ford has yet to confirm, but has said that the jobs moving from Michigan to Mexico would be replaced, and with trucks in high demand due to cheaper gasoline prices, it seems a natural to build a vehicle or two whose price points can accommodate higher labour costs.
The Ranger has continued to be sold in other global markets (most notably in Asia-Pacific), with the main reason why it was discontinued here being that Ford hoped the V-6 F-150 would be able to cover that market.
The Ford-produced international Ranger (predecessors were derived from Mazdas) made its debut at the 2010 Australian International Auto Show in Sydney, about a year before going into production in Thailand and two years before the North American Ranger sold off.
Today’s Ranger has a choice of three engines — a 2.5-litre Duratec 4-cylinder (164 hp, 167 lb-ft) and a couple diesels of 2.2 and 3.2-litre displacements. It comes in rear-wheel and 4-wheel drive, and in the usual pickup bodystyles — regular cab, extended cab and crew cab.
It has all the expected truck amenities, and some you wouldn’t expect in a truck. Among the many features are 600-800 mm water fording capabilities (depending on suspension), electronic stability control on- and off-road, trailer sway control, hill launch assist, hill descent control, rollover mitigation, emergency brake assist, electronic brake-force distribution, and a rearview camera, to name a few.
Perhaps most importantly, it also has an SUV derivative, called Everest. It has been seen testing in North America (heavily camouflaged) and it’s the same size as an Explorer but reportedly more rugged for off-roading, with its body on frame construction.
Like Ranger, it comes in rear- and 4-wheel drive, but is not offered with the gasoline engine.
It’s feasible that the Everest could be rebadged Bronco (which hasn’t been sold since 1997) for this market, which would likely be an unwelcome departure from the Bronco concept fans have been hoping would go into production, regardless of how handsome and capable the Everest may be.
But beyond everything else, chances are the new trucks would enter a new generation by the time they go into production in Michigan, which means Ford could go off on a whimsical tangent and build the retro look Bronco, and probably also Ranger, in hopes of perhaps building a Jeep Wrangler competitor (and probably with reason, given buyers who purchase Wranglers simply because there are no alternatives.