Ford may pull out of small-truck segment

As time rolls around next year for Ford to close its St. Paul, Minn. plant, Ford will begin to weigh options for its small Ford Ranger truck and may even pull out of the small-truck segment altogether.

Pulling out of the small-truck segment may be a bad move for Ford since it attracts first-time buyers to the name. However, Ranger sales have been dramatically falling with only 92,420 Rangers sold in 2006, a 59.1 percent decline since 2002.

“It brings consumers into the Ford fold who might eventually move into full-sized trucks,” Catherine Madden, a senior analyst at Global Insight told Automotive News.

Madden is predicting that Ford may replace the Ranger pickup with a small import from South America or Asia.

Ford isn’t the only company facing falling sales in the small-truck segment. US sales of small pickups have declined from about 800,000 in 2002, to around 611,000 in 2006. In 2007, sales in the small pickup segment are down 10.1 percent.

“All manufacturers are looking at their options,” said J.D. Power’s Schuster. “The sales volume is coming down pretty dramatically.”

Ford may cancel the Ranger altogether and pull out of the segment, move production to another plant such as St. Louis ore replace it with an import.

Source: Automotive News (Subscription Required)

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