Recently, it was revealed that the new Ford Ranger Raptor, shown above, won't be sold in the US. It's sad news, but Raptor fans don't need to get too upset about it. We think there's a very good chance that, eventually, a Ranger Raptor will make its way to the US after all. Just not the one you see above.
The new-for-the-US-market Ranger, shown above in orange, made its US debut at the 2018 Detroit auto show and goes on sale in early 2019. While the US-market truck has some unique styling and drivetrain features, it's based on the Ranger T6, a truck that and received a significant update in 2015. Up until now, the Ranger T6 was sold pretty much everywhere in the world except North America.
Since the T6 is nearing the end of its product cycle, it's reasonable to expect that Ford is already working on a next-generation Ranger to sell here in the US and around the world.
That includes the recently-introduced Ranger Raptor.
So why is there a T6-based Ranger Raptor for the rest of the world, but not North America? Ford is having a moment with the Raptor nameplate. As former Ford Performance head Jamal Hameedi told me earlier this year, the goal is to make sure that "every human being in the world has access to a Raptor. So, if it’s North America, you get an F-150 Raptor; the rest of the world, you get a Ranger Raptor."
So why is there a T6-based Ranger Raptor for the rest of the world, but not North America? Our theory goes like this: the current-gen Ranger is a late arrival to the US market, coming at what we assume is the tail end of the T6's lifecycle. Ford likely didn't want to spend the extra money to adapt the Euro-spec Ranger Raptor for the US market. Especially if a new next-generation Ranger is coming soon—which, given the age of the T6 platform, we think is highly likely.
Ford scored a major win with the full-size Raptor. Hameedi told me, "it came out of nowhere, and it's been a huge, huge success for us." Here in the US, Ford can hardly build F-150 Raptors fast enough. And while Ford is shifting away from passenger cars in North America, Ford Performance is actually expanding its portfolio of factory hot rods with products like the new Edge ST and soon-to-be-revealed Explorer ST. The F-150 Raptor is Ford Performance's biggest seller so far. We think they'd be foolish not to add a Ranger Raptor to the mix.
And Ford wants to reclaim a place in the off-road market. With the imminent arrival of a new Bronco and the more recent announcement of a smaller "baby Bronco," Ford has made it pretty clear that it wants some true off-roaders to put alongside its crossover offerings. Ford executive vice president of global markets, Jim Farley, spelled out the company's aims quite clearly when announcing the baby Bronco. "Ford helped start the off-road phenomenon and has majored in off-road capability for decades–from the Bronco to the Raptor," he said. "Now, we’re ready to reclaim our rightful place as the off-road vehicle leader."
The competition is heating up in the off-road pickup segment. Jeep, as you may know, has a Wrangler pickup on the way, which will offer the kind of all-terrain capability the model is known for. And let's not forget about the excellent Chevrolet Colorado ZR2, which brings some serious off-road capability to the mid-size pickup market. Since 2011, when Ford discontinued the US Ranger, Chevy and GMC have gone essentially uncontested in the mid-size pickup segment. Ford definitely doesn't want Chevy having all the fun there. A Ranger Raptor would fit the bill perfectly.
So, while you might not see the current-generation Ranger Raptor in the US, that doesn't mean Ford will never sell one here. On the contrary, a future Ranger Raptor seems like a certain recipe for success for Ford. At least, that's how it looks from our point of view.