Ford Motor Co. dominates the full-size pickup truck market. Now it may be looking to capture the smallest segment of the market with a tiny pickup that revives the Ford Courier name.
Trucks.com’s spy photographer captured photos of what appears to be a small pickup based on the Ford Focus platform undergoing road tests recently in Dearborn, Mich., near Ford’s headquarters.
The compact car-sized vehicle is disguised with camouflage to look like it’s a van to untrained eyes. The camouflage makes it look like it has a high-roof van body, a set of barn doors at the rear, and even a faux sliding door. But our automotive hounds are certain there’s a bed hidden in the test vehicle and that it is a small unibody truck, kind of like a shrunken Honda Ridgeline.
Think of it as an urban work truck that could more easily traverse congested city centers.
The Courier would revive a name Ford used to sell a small rebadged Mazda pickup in the 1970s. Two decades earlier Ford used the name for a sedan-based delivery vehicle.
This new model would slot below the midsized Ranger pickup that will start next year. And it will fit far below the automaker’s F-Series line of pickups. Ford is on track to sell about 900,000 F-Series trucks this year, making it the best-selling vehicle in the U.S.
The Courier is expected to be built on Ford’s new scalable front-drive platform shared with the Focus. Two- and four-door configurations will be offered. The automaker is likely to power the truck with a turbo four-cylinder gasoline engine in a front-wheel-drive configuration. A hybrid model is a possibility given Ford’s stated commitment to electrifying its range.
The Courier will probably be assembled at a plant in Mexico, given that it’s difficult for the automaker to make any money on small vehicles built in the U.S. But the production go-ahead and build location are likely to be contingent on how the Trump administration’s efforts to modify or scrap the North American Free Trade Agreement turn out.
Trucks of any sort continue to be among the most popular vehicles sold in the U.S.
Americans purchased more than 2.6 million pickup trucks through the first 11 months of this year, almost a 4 percent gain compared with the same period a year earlier.
Smaller trucks are leading that increase. While sales of full-size pickups have risen just 1.4% to nearly 2.2 million, sales of midsize pickups have jumped more than 16 percent to almost 480,000. That’s expected to grow next year when Ford’s Ranger reaches dealerships and Jeep starts selling its Gladiator pickup.