What a difference a year makes.
Throughout the long lead-up to the launch of its aluminum-bodied 2015 Ford F-150 full-size pickup, Ford has maintained that it sees no market for smaller pickup trucks.
But now, the company may be changing its tune.
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In an interview with USA Today, truck marketing manager David Scott said that the company is evaluating its current and future trucks throughout the world for a smaller pickup that could be adapted for the U.S. market.
2015 Ford F-150
Importantly, he said that the mid-size Ford Ranger pickup now sold outside the U.S. would not be that vehicle.
That Ranger is a much larger truck than the Ranger compact pickup whose production ended almost three years ago. It's "90 percent of the F-150 size," he said.
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Instead, Ford appears to be considering reintroducing a true compact pickup truck.
Such a vehicle would be a segment smaller than the current Nissan Frontier and Toyota Tacoma mid-size trucks, which are now being joined in the market by the 2015 Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon--also mid-sized.
2015 Chevrolet Colorado Z71
Scott said the target was a true compact pickup that would achieve fuel-efficiency ratings fully 6 to 8 miles per gallon higher than the F-150, presumably using four-cylinder engines only.
And the base price would have to be $5,000 to $6,000 lower than the F-150, to avoid cannibalization.
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With its aluminum cab and pickup bed, the 2015 F-150 is thought to be considerably more expensive for Ford to manufacture than its steel predecessors--even at volumes of half a million or so a year.
A future Ranger-size compact pickup from Ford would likely have unibody construction, rather than the separate frame and body of all full-size pickups.
2014 Honda Ridgeline Sport
Only the Honda Ridgeline uses that construction today, although pickups of previous decades based on the Dodge Omni/Plymouth Horizon and the Volkswagen Rabbit (first-generation Golf) were built that way.
That offers the possibility that a pickup model could be derived from the new Ford Transit Connect, based on the compact platform now used by the Ford Focus, C-Max, and Escape.