Ford believes that the rapidly changing Chinese market is about to develop a hunger for pickups and is moving to position itself to capitalize. The Blue Oval announced today that the Ranger midsize truck will go on sale in 2018 – a year ahead of its U.S.-market re-launch.
“China is already the fourth largest truck market in the world with 14 percent growth last year,” Ford said in its press statement. “We see an opportunity to satisfy unmet need in China – for world-class, stylish and refined pickups – and also to be a pioneer in this emerging segment,” elaborated Dave Schoch, president of Ford Asia Pacific and CEO, Ford China.
Growth is expected to come in two ways. First, the perception of pickups as lacking in comfort and modern features among Chinese buyers, who are not familiar with the likes of the F-150 King Ranch and GMC Sierra Denali, is rapidly changing thanks to media exposure. As a result, Ford says, Chinese consumers are becoming interested in pickups that offer SUV-level comfort and refinement while retaining the versatility and capability of a truck. Second, the Chinese government, according to Ford, is easing restrictions on the use of pickups in its heavily populated city centers, which increases the potential buyer pool.
Globally, the Ranger is the second best-selling midsize truck behind the Toyota Hilux. and is the top-selling pickup in Europe, New Zealand, and South Africa. It will become the second Ford pickup offered in China, joining the F-150 Raptor, which goes on sale this year.
Ford did not say where the Chinese-market Ranger would be built. Although the low-volume Raptor is imported to China from Dearborn, domestic production through one of its joint ventures is likely for the Ranger. Presently, the Ranger is built in Thailand, South Africa, and Argentina.