Cheaper gas prices lead to demise of Ford Ranger

Bob Moon Dec 12, 2011

Jeremy Hobson: Here in the U.S. the last Ford Ranger pickup truck is expected roll off the assembly line in St. Paul, Minn. this month. Ford is sending the Ranger off into the sunset, in part because people want bigger trucks.

As our senior business correspondent Bob Moon reports.

Bob Moon: Ford has seen small truck sales drop from 8 to just 2 percent of the market, and spokesman Mike Levine says you can’t argue with the numbers.

Mike Levine: We’ve put our investment where we have the most demand, and that’s for full-size pickups.

Rewind to just this past April, though: President Obama was chiding gas-guzzling drivers for complaining about high prices.

Barack Obama: They’re all still driving their big SUVs. You know, they’ve got their big monster trucks and everything.

IHS Automotive analyst Rebecca Lindland says that push to smaller cars actually ended this summer, right on cue, based on past experience.

Rebecca Lindland: Consumers typically will change their buying habits when there is a spike in fuel prices. After three to four months, we will see the consumer go back to their traditional buying habits.

Ford’s Mike Levine says smaller trucks just aren’t attracting buyers the way they used to.

Levine: Their fuel economy is the same, if not worse, than full-size trucks. Also, the prices of mid-size trucks, along with their sizes, have grown to be almost full-size proportions.

Levine says Ford is committed to giving consumers the vehicles they want through improved fuel economy. But analyst Lindland says developing new gas-saving technology’s expensive, so buyers should be ready to pay more.

I’m Bob Moon for Marketplace.

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