2019 Ford Ranger Poised for U.S. Comeback

Joe Hinrichs, Ford executive vice president-global operations, says demand for midsize pickups has grown steadily in recent years and has surpassed a half-million annual sales.

Joseph Szczesny

October 23, 2018

3 Min Read
2019 Ford Ranger put through paces outside Ford's Michigan Assembly Plant.
2019 Ford Ranger put through paces outside Ford's Michigan Assembly Plant.Tom Murphy

WAYNE, MI – Ford believes it has the right truck at the right time as it prepares for the launch of the new midsize '19 Ford Ranger.

Job One is scheduled to roll off the refurbished assembly line in the coming weeks here at the automaker’s Michigan Assembly Plant.

Joe Hinrichs, Ford executive vice president-global operations, tells reporters during an event for employees that demand for midsize pickups has grown steadily in recent years and has surpassed a half-million annual sales.

“It’s a real segment now,” he says, adding Ford will have a built-in audience for the Ranger when it goes on sale in January.

Buyers of midsize trucks are different from buyers of fullsize models such as the Ford F-150 because they are more likely to use the truck for recreation than for work. Ford has addressed the issue in the engineering of the ’19 Ranger, which is capable of towing up to 7,500 lbs. (3,400 kg) and will have 4-wheel-drive capability as well as shocks and suspension giving it off-road capability.

It will be equipped with a 2.3L EcoBoost engine producing 270 hp and 310 lb.-ft. (420 Nm) of torque; a 10-speed automatic transmission; standard pre-collision assist with automatic emergency braking; available blindspot information system with class-exclusive trailer coverage; and available SYNC 3 infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Ford says.

Ford halted production of the previous Ranger pickup at the end of 2011 when it closed its St. Paul, MN, assembly plant. The Ranger name remained in use on pickups Ford built in other parts of the world such as Thailand, keeping alive the hopes of the Ranger’s diehard U.S. fans.

“Ford truck fans demanded a midsize pickup that’s ‘Built Ford Tough,’ and we’re delivering with our all-new Ranger that’s specially designed and engineered for American truck customers,” Hinrichs says.

Ford spent $850 million to retool the Michigan Assembly Plant, which also is slated to build the new Ford Bronco. The body and point shop and stamping area already have begun operation and the final assembly line is scheduled to come on line next week, Hinrichs says.

The plant initially will operate with some 3,000 employees, and 600 will be added on a second shift when the plant starts building the Bronco in 2020.

Ford CEO Jim Hackett, who also was on hand for the employee event, tells reporters there is a lot of excitement about the re-emergence of the Bronco.

“The world’s really excited about the Bronco. We teased our dealers with its development,” he says. “There are great things going on. Ford has an extensive lineup of trucks, utilities, special vehicles and cars like Mustang.

“The Bronco fits right in the center of that group of customers that want an off-road experience and there are so many people (who will be) driving that vehicle to and from work,” Hackett predicts.


Hackett, who has been under pressure to show progress in turning around Ford’s fortunes and falling stock price, which hit a new low last week, says Ford has launched 19 different projects aimed at improving the automaker’s operations. “They’re all starting to come together,” he says.

Hinrichs (left) notes the history of the Michigan Assembly Plant tells the story of the U.S. auto industry’s ups and downs.

The plant, located on a 369-acre site (150-ha) between Dearborn and Ypsilanti, opened in 1957 building station wagons, the iconic vehicles of the U.S. postwar era. After a brief shutdown it reopened in 1964 to build a range of trucks and commercial vehicles, including delivery vans.

Beginning in 1966, the plant began a 30-year run of building the Bronco, one of the original SUVs that gained popularity in postwar America.

Michigan Assembly won acclaim as being one of the world’s most important and profitable factories when it made Ford Expeditions and Lincoln Navigators from 1996 to 2008, when it shut down. It was retooled again to build the Ford Focus and C-Max.

Focus production ended in May to make way for the retooling in preparation for the Ranger launch.




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