End of the Line for Ford Ranger Compact Pickup

On Friday, Ford Motor Company will bring down the curtain on one of the most popular compact pickup trucks ever built in the U.S. — the Ford Ranger.

Ford says it has sold 6,657,881 Ranger pickups since it first appeared in dealer showrooms in 1982. At the peak of its popularity in 1999, 348,358 Ranger pickups were sold worldwide. During the first 11 months of this year, Ford sold 64,114 units, up 26 percent compared with the same period in 2010. Although just a drop in the bucket when compared with some years, the numbers were good enough to make Ranger the No. 2 best-selling compact truck for the period.

Over its distinguished history, the Ranger pickup became the economical compact pickup of choice for many younger buyers and even spawned its share of imitators. The Mazda B-series pickup was the result of a Mazda-Ford joint venture, and was based largely on the Ranger.

In recent years, heated competition in the full size pickup sector has resulted in hefty incentives and generous lease options. Many U.S. buyers are now opting for these slightly more expensive full size pickups including the Ford F-150, Chevy Silverado, Ram 1500, GMC Sierra 1500, Toyota Tundra and Nissan Titan.

In the last couple of years, Ford has focused on improving the engineering and technology of its popular F-150, while the Ranger has remained largely unchanged. The F-150 has garnered a number of prestigious awards in recent years.  In 2009, the F-150 was named the North American Truck of the Year, and last week Motor Trend announced it had chosen the F-150 as its 2012 Truck of the Year.

The F-150 offers buyers a wide choice of versions and available options with sticker prices starting under $23,000.

As Ford was slowly abandoning the compact truck market, competition between Asian automakers was heating up. The Toyota Tacoma is currently the No. 1 compact truck in the U.S. with 37 percent of the market.   For now, the Ranger is in second place with a 24 percent market share. The Nissan Frontier is in third place with 17 percent of the market.

The last Ranger pickup intended for domestic sale will roll off the assembly line this Friday at Ford’s Twin Cities production facilities located in St. Paul, Minnesota.

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