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Midsize Truck War May Heat Up Fast

Once seemingly dead, market is going to get crowded fast.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Nov.07, 2018

The new Ford Ranger is likely to be just the first of a wave of new midsize trucks.

Once written off for dead – or at least dying – the midsize pickup market is coming back with a bang, but not only are sales on the rise, but also is the number of players entering, or returning, to the segment.

The question facing the industry is whether the list of brands might be growing too fast and too large, something that could make it hard for anyone to turn a profit.

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Among the latest to target the U.S. midsize market are Ford and Jeep, both returning after lengthy absences. But Volkswagen could be eyeing its opportunities, as well as Mahindra & Mahindra, the Indian automaker that recently begun building off-road vehicles at a small plant in the Detroit suburbs. And Hyundai is moving forward with the development of a car-based compact pickup based on the Santa Cruz concept of a few years back. (more…)

Easter Comes Early for the Ford Ranger

Automaker's marketing team hides Easter eggs in promo pictures.

by Michael Strong on Oct.29, 2018

Some Ford's picture promoting the new Ranger pickup feature Easter eggs hidden in the background.

Ford Motor Co. is hyping the Ranger, its new entry in the fast-growing midsize truck segment, with a mix of media focusing on its capability, technology and economy. However, it’s throwing in a few Easter eggs for good measure.

No, not actual dyed eggs, but hidden images within the promotional pictures of the new truck slated to hit dealer showrooms in early 2019.

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The pictures have an array of things lurking in the background ranging from the imaginary jackalope to the Loch Ness monster and more. The first two were in the images released during the North American International Auto Show in January and now there are eight total. (more…)

Could Ford Be Working Up a Sub-Ranger Pickup?

One option would be to go with a car-based package.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Aug.01, 2018

The Ford Courier pickup shared platforms with the automaker's Fiesta subcompact.

Several sources are reporting that Ford Motor Co., long reluctant to undercut its full-size F-Series pickup family, could soon have small trucks in its line-up, with a model even smaller than the upcoming Ranger to follow by as early as 2022.

Exactly what it would look like and where it would fit into the spectrum isn’t clear but Automobile magazine’s sources suggested Ford might be looking at a product like the old Courier pickup built in Brazil that was based on the same platform as the prior-generation Fiesta subcompact.

Insight!

Whether there’d be a market for something the size of the old Ford Courier is far from certain, though several automakers appear to be looking at their options, notably including Hyundai which has been slowly moving forward with a production version of the well-received Santa Cruz concept first shown at the Detroit Auto Show in January 2015.

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Spied: Nearly Naked 2019 Ford Ranger

Expect Raptor version to boost performance and credibility.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Oct.30, 2017

Ford is slowly peeling back the camo as the 2019 Ranger pickup gets closer to launch.

After wavering for several years, Ford is finally getting back into the midsize pickup market with the planned launch of the 2019 Ranger.

It’s been six years since the Detroit automaker abandoned its ancient Twin Cities plant in Minnesota, walking away from what was, back then, a dying market segment. But it failed to reckon on what might happen when new product would be injected into the midsize category, General Motors scoring a hit with the likes of its Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon, and Toyota hitting the ball out of the park with a new version of its segment-leading Tacoma model.

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For Ford, the good news was having a Ranger in place for other markets, though it has needed some major updates to get it ready for U.S. buyers, and our spy photographer Jim Dunne has captured a nearly naked version of the American version undergoing late testing in the Detroit suburbs not far from Ford’s world headquarters.

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Ford Readying Wave of New Products, Says CEO Hackett

Automaker agrees to pay $10 mil to settle harassment claims.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Aug.17, 2017

Prior to joining Ford, Jim Hackett was Steelcase CEO and served as Interim U-Michigan Athletic Director.

While Ford has won praise for its push into autonomous vehicles, car-sharing and other futuristic mobility programs, it has also been criticized for a lack of new products today, something CEO Jim Hackett said the Detroit carmaker is addressing.

In an interview with the Associated Press, the former Steelcase chief executive – who took over at Ford following a management shake-up in May – say there is plenty “in the hopper,” though he declined to offer details on what new products are coming. Ford has revealed plans to revive its Bronco SUV and Ranger pickup nameplates, but critics say the carmaker also needs to revitalize its mainstream passenger car and luxury line-ups.

Industry News!

Separately, Ford confirmed Thursday that it will pay up to $10.1 million to settle sexual and racial harassment allegations linked to its two Chicago-area factories. It also will add new training programs for workers at those plants.

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Ford’s Low Share Price Frustrates Shareholders and Execs

CEO Fields takes heat as stock, earnings, sales tumble.

by Joseph Szczesny on May.12, 2017

CEO Mark Fields has tried to shift Ford's direction - but investors want quicker results.

Amidst signs of turmoil within the company, Ford’s top executives faced some sharp questions from shareholders during the first every “virtual annual” meeting.

“You both say that your main priority is to provide long-term shareholder value,” one shareholder asked. “Losing 40% of the value since Mark (Fields) took over as CEO doesn’t seem to be upholding that pledge.”

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In response, William Clay Ford Jr., Ford’s executive chairman and the great grandson of the company’s founder, said that the company’s stock price matters both to the Ford family and Ford’s top management. However, he added, Wall Street has historically undervalued automakers, even when they are earning substantial profits.

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Ford Reveals $1.2B Investment in 3 Michigan Plants

Project in the works for some time, but automaker hails pro-growth environment.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Mar.28, 2017

A worker on the line at Ford's Michigan Assembly Plant. It will soon be building trucks.

Ford Motor Co. will invest $1.2 billion in three Michigan facilities, the automaker announced Tuesday, a move signaled overnight through a tweet from Pres. Donald Trump.

The three projects the package covers will help save and, in some cases add, thousands of jobs in the suburban Detroit region, in line with one of the president’s priorities. But a senior executive from Ford told TheDetroitBureau.com that all three projects were in the works well before Trump took office – the largest, involving an $850 million assembly plant investment, approved as part of a deal with the United Auto Workers Union in 2015.

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The announcement is “consistent with what we announced previously,” said Joe Hinrichs, Ford’s President of the Americas, though he quickly stressed that Ford is “encouraged by the pro-growth approach the administration is trying to follow. We continue to be encouraged by the dialogue.”

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Trump Tweets About $1B Ford Plant Plan

Project actually in the works since 2015.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Mar.28, 2017

Ford finally confirmed in January it will bring back the Bronco (a concept version shown here).

Ford Motor Co. is expected to announce today that it will spend over $1 billion to expand and upgrade three plants in Michigan, an expansive program highlighted overnight in a tweet from President Donald Trump and detailed in a story in a local Detroit paper.

According to the Detroit News, however, the largest portion of that project involves an investment at the Michigan Assembly Plant in the Detroit suburb of Wayne, Michigan and was in the works well before the businessman-turned politician was elected president last year. The other investments are expected to support work at that plant.

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As a candidate, Trump frequently criticized Ford over its decision to move small car production to Mexico, warning that he would take steps, as president, to penalize the automaker, including an import tax on Mexican-made vehicles. In January, however, Trump hailed Ford’s announcement that it was canceling a second Mexican plant – even though it was still going ahead with plans to move the compact Focus model to Mexico.

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Ford Confirms Return of Bronco, Ranger

Ranger returns 2019, Bronco back in 2020.

by Michael Strong on Jan.09, 2017

Could this Ford Bronco concept shown a decade ago could serve as a template for a new SUV.

They’re baaaack!!!

After plenty of hints, rumors, innuendos and leaked production plans, Ford officials confirmed today in Detroit that its bringing back the Ford Bronco SUV and Ford Ranger truck. Both will be built at the Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne, Michigan.

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“We’ve heard our customers loud and clear. They want a new generation of vehicles that are incredibly capable yet fun to drive,” said Joe Hinrichs, Ford’s president of The Americas. (more…)

UAW Official Confirms Return of Bronco, Ranger

New trucks to replace small car production at Michigan plant.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Oct.05, 2016

Could this Ford Bronco concept shown a decade ago could serve as a template for a new SUV.

Ford will bring back two old light truck nameplates sometime in 2018, according to a union official representing the Michigan plant where the Bronco SUV and Ranger pickup will be produced.

The two models will go into a suburban Detroit plant that has been producing some of Ford’s smaller passenger car lines. The Focus sedan and C-Max people-mover will move to Mexico, a plan that triggered a tirade by Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. His campaign has not responded to a request for comment on the latest development.

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Ford has repeatedly said it would find new work for the Michigan Assembly Plant in the suburb of Wayne, but not what would go there. It turns out union leaders have known about the replacement products for some time. (more…)