Rejoice, Ford truck fans, for today is your day.
Today at the Detroit Auto Show, Ford confirmed the new Bronco and new Ranger will become available in just a few years and be built in Michigan. In a statement, Ford President of the Americas Joe Hinrichs said:
We’ve heard our customers loud and clear. […] Ranger is for truck buyers who want an affordable, functional, rugged and maneuverable pickup that’s Built Ford Tough. Bronco will be a no-compromise midsize 4×4 utility for thrill seekers who want to venture way beyond the city.
Ford says to expect the new Ranger in 2019 and the Bronco in 2020. Both models have been anticipated for some time; the Bronco picture we used is a concept produced for the 2004 Detroit Auto Show. (It’s been that long.)
The Ranger was last produced for the American market in 2011, while the Bronco hasn’t been available since 1998.
Last year, Bill Johnson, chairman of United Auto Workers (UAW) Local 900, responded to an attack on Ford by Donald Trump after the company moved some production to Mexico. In doing so, he accidentally revealed plans to build both vehicles. He told the Detroit Free Press: “We hate to see the products go to Mexico, but with the Ranger and the Bronco coming to Michigan Assembly, that absolutely secures the future for our people a lot more than the Focus does.”
Bringing back the Ranger is more a question of resuming production than starting something new. Though the truck hasn’t been built for the United States in some time, Ford Australia and Mazda have been offering versions for international markets since 2011 and 1998, respectively. In deciding to resume production, Car and Driver reports that Ford plans to take on robust sales of the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon, though they did not explicitly confirm whether the Ranger would be the same size as those pickups. As F-150s increasingly become the go-to pickup for personal and family owners, Ford likely sees an opening for the Ranger in fleet sales and small commercial, industrial and municipal uses.
Ever wonder why it’s rare to see many foreign pickups in the United States? A set of tariffs called the Chicken Tax levies a 25 percent tax on imported pickups and commercial vans, among other products like potato starch and brandy. It was imposed in 1963 by President Lyndon Johnson in response to tariffs placed on American chicken by France and West Germany.
What a new Bronco would look like isn’t as clear as the prototype pictured here. The vehicle has traditionally been built on an F-150 chassis, but the new Bronco would be built in the same factory as the new Ranger, which is likely to be one of the larger Rangers (“small” trucks aren’t so small anymore). That might mean a Bronco that’s closer to Ford’s Bronco II model, which was also built on the Ranger chassis.
There’s one (unlikely) ray of hope for offroaders: the T4 Troller, a truck produced by a subsidiary of Ford in Brazil. It’s got solid axles, four-wheel drive, a 3.2 liter inline five-cylinder diesel engine and a six-speed manual transmission. It’s not been designed for U.S. emissions standards, so this one is a long shot at best. They can only hope.