DETROIT -- Ford Motor Co. is in discussions with the UAW about bringing the Ranger midsize pickup and Bronco SUV back to the U.S. market, according to a Bloomberg report and a person with knowledge of the talks.
The company is considering a plan to build the vehicles at Michigan Assembly Plant near Detroit after production of the Focus and C-Max ends in 2018, the source said.
Ford also is considering production of the Bronco SUV at the plant, Bloomberg reported. Ford filed a trademark application for the Bronco name in February, according to a government filing.
The proposal, which would need to be approved by Ford’s board of directors, as well as the union, would give the automaker a smaller and less expensive complement to the F-series that it has lacked since discontinuing the U.S. Ranger in 2011.
Ford still sells the Ranger in nearly 200 markets overseas.
As transaction prices for the F-150 have risen, so has the opportunity for a midsize pickup to fit below the F-150 without detracting from it.
Ford and Fiat Chrysler's Ram brand have abandoned the midsize pickup market in recent years, leaving it largely to the Toyota Tacoma and the recently reintroduced Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon.
Challenge to Jeep?
Ford showed a Bronco concept at the 2004 Detroit auto show, which has fueled rumors since then that the vehicle would eventually return to the U.S. It was discontinued in 1996, two years after O.J. Simpson famously led police on a low-speed chase through Los Angeles in a white Bronco.
The Bronco likely would be a version of the Ford Everest, an Australian-designed, body-on-frame SUV that’s made in Thailand. The Everest, which is built on the same platform as the Ranger, was redesigned this year.
Car and Driver called it “the perfect vehicle for folks who value rough country prowess over cute-ute deception,” complaining that North American buyers can’t get it.
A rugged midsize SUV would allow Ford to more directly challenge Jeep, whose sales have been soaring. Ford converted the Explorer to a unibody architecture in 2010, a move that has quadrupled sales of that vehicle since, but hindered its ability to attract buyers who actually want to drive off-road.