It now seems to be officially official: Ford Motor Company will cease building the 2011 Ford Ranger on December 22 after nearly three decades of producing the small pickup. Of course, the easy joke here is that that's also how long it's been since the Ranger was last redesigned, but in many ways, it's Ford who got the last laugh.
After all, while the Ranger hasn't literally been left unchanged for the past 30 or so years, Ford certainly hasn't lavished it with with a continuous stream of updates. Yet the Blue Oval still sold 55,364 of them last year, just a few hundred units below the truck's 2009 numbers. And although the Ranger has seen declining sales this year, they really haven't declined all that much: 23,544 new customers have bought a Ranger through May, representing a modest 2.6 percent drop over the same period in 2010. Which happens to be a better performance so far this year than achieved by the Ford Taurus, Ford Mustang or Ford Flex. At this stage, I'd say that means the Ranger is still producing a pretty nice return on the automaker's investment.
I'm not pitching the idea that Ford should keep the current Ranger in production, but I think its sales do show where an opportunity for Ford exists that would help it deal with the growing number of challenges that are seriously impacting the company's momentum.