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When more than two-thirds of your brand’s sales are from one product, you have two very important decisions to make every single day. How do we protect the customers we have and how do we attract new customers?
Ford Motor Company addressed both of these questions last night in a globally choreographed preview of the Next-Generation Ford Ranger.
The Ranger is Ford’s poster-child in Australia with a very loyal following that in 2021 rivals the Commodore vs Falcon one-eyed views of the 80s and 90s. Today, however, it’s Ranger vs (Toyota) Hi-Lux that reflects the changing dynamics of how Australian’s like to get about as a family and make the most of the weekends and holidays.
The Next-Generation Ranger project was led by Ford’s Product Development Centre in Australia. Its international, 2,000-strong team of dedicated designers and engineers worked with teams around the globe to not only incorporate the very latest in Ford technology, capability and safety, but to also engineer and test the Ranger to Ford’s toughest standards.
Last nights “hands-off” preview was more than enough to get a very good sense of where Ford is going with their 4×4/Truck strategy in Australia. The Next-Generation Ranger shows many benefits of its lineage to the much larger F-150 as well as the fortuitous timing of the development and launch of the new model, just as the world comes out of COVID hibernation looking for the right gear to get back to the way things were.
Models & Engines
There are five models at launch with the Raptor to follow later in 2022.
The reveal models – the capable XL, versatile XLS, stylish XLT, rugged Sport and adventurer Wildtrak all point to very wide appeal with current and future customers.
In terms of engines, there will be three diesels offered across the range starting with a Single-Turbo 2.0 litre 4 cylinder version going all the way up to a 3.0 litre turbocharged V6. Transmission choices include an updated 10-speed auto complementing the current six-speed automatic.
As always with a new model, there are a number of design, safety, and practicality highlights on the Next-Generation Ranger.
On the Wildtrak variant, the C shaped daytime running lights surround a multi-element LED light cluster with separate fog lights.
The front overhang has been reduced with the front wheel being moved forward by 50mm to increase overall wheelbase. Track has been widened by 50mm too.
Two permanent tow-hooks are mounted under the robust grille which also houses numerous parking sensors, the forward-facing camera, and the cruise-control radar sensor.
Hours and hours of listening to what and why customers love the Ford Ranger led to simple, yet highly effective, innovations such as the integrated side-step behind the rear tyres of the Next-Generation Ranger, to create a strong, more stable way for them to access the box.
The tailgate can also double as a mobile workbench with clamp pockets to measure, grip and cut building materials.
Zone lighting – controlled via the in-cabin SYNC screen or through the FordPass app – provides 360° lighting around the Ranger to help give customers better visibility around the vehicle.
Load box lighting is provided under the left- and right-hand rails and provides plenty of light for finishing up jobs in low light or finding things in the cargo box at night.
Ford has been just as busy working on the interior of the Next-Generation Ranger where a radical shift in terms of comfort and usability is very evident.
Whilst we did not get to sample the interior in any great detail, the 10.1-inch or 12-inch touchscreen in the centre stack are a big leap into the future.
Depending on the model and spec, the touchscreen complements the fully digital instrument panel and is loaded with Ford’s latest SYNC4® system, which comes customer-ready with its voice-activated communications, entertainment and information systems.
Thankfully the HVAC controls are still rotary dials!
Ford has gone with a short-throw e-shifter for gear selection and it is central to the interior layout
“Customers overwhelmingly liked the e-shifter – they liked the fact that it looked higher-tech and that it was intuitive to use,” said Max Tran, chief designer for Ranger.
Customers will have a choice of two four-wheel drive systems, an electronic shift-on-the-fly system, or advanced full-time 4×4 system with a reassuring set-and-forget mode, designed for capability when and where customers need it. Off-road recovery is made easier with prominent dual recovery hooks in the front bumper.
Customer Experience Matters
Depending on the market, Ford will offer customers a suite of services to ensure a clear point of difference in the ownership experience of the Next-Gen Ranger, including:
Being “always on” – whether you have questions about the vehicle or need assistance. Ford has Ranger Concierges in key markets that will walk customers through whatever they need to know.
FordPass – customers will be connected to their Ranger 24/7 via their smartphone. They’ll be able to remote start their vehicle – on hot or cold days, to ensure the temp inside is comfortable when they get in or be able to receive notifications that their vehicle is due for service.
If they have a question or want to learn more about how to best use Ranger’s high-tech features, such as the Ford Pass app, Ford has them covered with its “Master your Ranger” virtual and hands-on education – whatever suits their needs.
Stay connected to your world while in your Ranger – with Ford’s award-winning SYNC system IV.
If customers need service or have an issue, Ford is there for them, with offerings like these, depending on the market:
A Ranger Concierge, who will be their point of contact the whole way till their need is resolved.
Convenient online service appointments – Ford dealers will even pick up and deliver a customer’s Ranger for them. Or, if they prefer, replace their vehicle while it’s being serviced with another Ranger, so they can continue with their business or family life.
In the future, Ford also plans to offer over-the-air updates, so customers won’t even need to schedule a service for some things. We call it Ford Power-Up software.
Customers will be able to personalise their Next-Generation Ranger with a range of almost 600 fully factory-backed work, urban and adventure accessories, depending on the market. These accessories include those developed in collaboration with global off-road icon, ARB 4×4 Accessories and will be fully backed by Ford’s New Vehicle Warranty of up to five years / unlimited kilometres.
The ARB 4×4 Accessories and Ford collaboration will initially be rolling out in select markets.
Overall, the Next-Gen Ford Ranger will be a very well-engineered truck when it arrives in 2022 with the Australian design team having played a huge role in the development of such an important vehicle for the Ford Motor Company that will be built in Thailand and South Africa and sold in over 180 markets around the world.
We can’t wait to have a drive.
You can watch the Next Gen Ranger global design reveal below.
Mike is the Australian editor of SonnyDickson.com with a lifelong passion for cars, technology and engineering. He reviews and writes about all kinds of motoring and tech products for our readers. Follow Mike on Instagram or send him an email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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