The last time Ford had a compact was in 2011 with the last generation of the global Ranger, Ford afterwards thought that a compact truck is very overlapping with the ever successful F-150 full size pickup with no significant distinctive differences between them in price, fuel economy but with decreased towing & payload.
The compact pickup business in the states is now occupied by the GM Chevy Colorado, Toyota’s Tacoma & Nissan Frontier which grows in size respectively with every generation which make nearly as a full size pickup.
“The overlap with full-size trucks in size, price, and fuel economy made no sense for the consumer,” Doug Scott, the marketing manager for Ford trucks explained to us at the Chicago auto show. “It led to the death of the shrinking of the compact segment from two million trucks to 250,000 last year.” Blame, if you must, the usual focus groups and feature creep for the ever-expanding trucks. Even more than with cars, every new pickup generation must be better than ever, so more powerful, capable of carrying more payload, and have a higher tow rating.
Is there any remaining consumer interest in a compact pickup that’s actually compact? “You bet,” Scott says. “We’ve spent a lot of time with customers, and we know there is a market for a true compact truck. But you have to have—and we have a pretty good handle on it, we think—a significant difference in size, price, and fuel economy. We think we know what it looks like.” In short, it would need about 1000 pounds of payload capacity, 3000 pounds of towing, and a dramatic reduction in fuel consumption. Does it need to be a traditional body-on-frame truck? “No,” Scott answers. The target consumers really don’t care, as long as a car-based pickup is durable and can haul what they need. Add a reasonable sticker, and “that formula will work.”
The Challenge really is in making an affordable compact pickup with a significant decrease in price below the $24,500 of the F-150 which makes it a bit tricky as developing a new chassis would cost a billion dollar and with a low starting price and a competitive larger F-150 who would think about buy it, “The challenge,” Scott adds, is “making a business case out of it that makes sense. We’re still working on it.”