Ford hints at building compact pickups again

Quimby Mug Bayou Florida
Updated Feb 9, 2019
1972 Ford Courier1972 Ford Courier

As it re-enters the midsize market with its 2019 Ranger, Ford appeared to hint that it will once again be offering a compact pickup.

Shortly after highlighting Ford’s dominant 44.5 percent share in commercial trucks and vans, Ford’s president of global markets, Jim Farley, announced at the Deutsche Bank Global Auto Industry Conference recently in Detroit that the company will be expanding its commercial vehicle line-up.

“And the best is going to get even better, because we’re going to be launching a new Super Duty later this year and showing it to everyone in a few weeks,” Farley said. “So let’s talk about the mid-size and compact pickup truck market that we don’t talk enough about.”

From there Farley played up the strong sales of Ranger outside of the U.S. and how the new North American variant is building strong momentum.

“We already have nearly 300,000 hand raisers for the new Ranger in the U.S. That’s the kind of scale of interest we get from F-Series,” Farley said. (Last year, Ford sold 270,000 Rangers outside the U.S.)

Following praise for Transit, the world’s best-selling van, Farley talked up the success of the aluminum-bodied F-Series.

“Despite all the new product from our competition, the F-Series has the biggest lead we’ve ever had in 42 years as a best-selling truck,” he said. “And at a nameplate level we outsell our second place competitor by 324,000 units.”

Next came an announcement that made plenty of headlines last week.

“We’re going to be electrifying the F-Series, both battery electric and hybrid, and we’re doing the same for Transit,” Farley said.

We confirmed with Ford that the F-150 was pegged to go all-electric.

But what about compact trucks? No cut-and-dry confirmation there, but something intriguing and leaning towards a ‘yes’ nonetheless.

“And we’re investing in more affordable versions of our truck business, more later, but you can expect new nameplates below where we compete today. We’re building on our global alliances that you heard from Jim on Volkswagen to strengthen our business,” Farley said.

Hmmm…so a more affordable truck below Ranger? Combine that with Farley’s earlier mention of compact trucks and it looks like Big Blue might be marketing small pickups once again. Also, Farley immediately mentioned Volkswagen in the next sentence which could be a hint at a collaborative compact pickup build since the two automakers recently announced a partnership to produce commercial trucks and vans.

While Automotive News reported this week that Ford will be building a compact pickup and Automobile magazine reported last year that the truck would be offered in the U.S., Ford would not confirm such plans today.

“We’ll have more details to share about new nameplates in the future,” said Mike Levine, Ford North America product communications manager.

What would a new compact Ford pickup look like? We’re pretty sure it will look nothing like the 1972 Ford Courier posted above which was copied from an original brochure that I bought because I’m nerdy like that. Ford buffs will recall that the Courier came about from a partnership with Mazda. The truck was imported to the U.S. until the early 1980s to compete in a bustling compact pickup market. Will a similar arrangement be struck up with Volkswagen? Maybe so.

It’s interesting to note that the announcement of an all-electric Transit didn’t make as much news last week as did the brief mention of an all-electric F-Series. Ford has already electrified its best-selling van in Europe where it partnered up with shipping giant DHL to put an all-electric Transit fleet to work.