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Ford’s Ranger Plan Backfires – Toyota’s New Customers

Recent surveys are showing that previous Ford Ranger owners aren’t necessarily buying into Ford’s plan for them to buy a Ford F-150 instead. Rather, they are now taking a long look at the Toyota Tacoma has a replacement. Ford’s plan to ignore compact-truck buyers is backfiring.

Ford's Ranger Plan Backfires

Recent reports suggest that despite what Ford thinks, the Ford F-150 doesn't look to appealing to former Ford Ranger owners.

Several analysts say the plan isn’t going so well after looking at data compiled by TrueCar.com and Edmunds.com that tracks online shoppers behaviors along with dealership information. The analysis is simple, about half of Ford Ranger owners are opting to leave the Ford brand completely.

“We do know that a good portion of would-be Ranger buyers are going to different brand,” said Jesse Toprak, vice president of industry analysis for TrueCar.com told the Detroit News. “Ford may have been too optimistic in their assumption of how many Ranger buyers want to buy an F-150.

“There’s no question Ford has lost customers by not having a compact truck.”

For its part Ford is offering additional incentives to Ford Ranger owners to purchase a new Ford vehicle (not just a Ford F-150). Dealerships are finding that customers are now looking at the Ford Escape or Focus instead.

“A lot of them do go into pickup trucks because they need to, but a lot of owners are long-time owners and need a car,” said Jim Elder, general sales manager at Suburban Ford of Sterling Heights according to the Detroit News. “They are going for more fuel-efficient vehicles.”

Edmunds.com is finding the same results. It says that only 29 percent of former Ranger owners are buying a Ford F-150. And more than 40 percent of people researching a car on the site are also looking at a Toyota Tacoma which is nearly twice as many who cross-shopped a Ford F-150.

“We are retaining some Ranger buyers, with the bulk of them moving to F-Series and Escape,” said Erich Merkle, Ford’s U.S. sales analyst. “As for the compact pickup segment, it has become a much smaller part of the overall industry over the last 12 years.”

Apparently Ford is truly done building a compact truck. For the record during the 30 years it built the Ranger, Ford put out more than 6.6 million models. The news that Ford is done is still a little surprising with the compact truck market going in two directions. There are Toyota and Nissan who are holding strong, Chevy is revamping its two models and Chrysler is looking to get involved (see: Chrysler to build a unibody compact pickup).

Ford’s strategy is that gas prices are still the largest buying choice for consumers and since full-size trucks get comparable gas mileage as compact-trucks, why not buy the bigger model. However, many consumers like the manuverability and smaller stature of a compact-truck. These owners have been tossed to the curb by Ford.

What do you think? Have you considered moving up in size to a full-size because gas is comparable? Or do you like the smaller size of compact-trucks?

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