Sat, 17 December 2011

Lone Ranger Retires From Ford Line-Up

Production of Ford's little workhorse is coming to an end.

The Ranger pickup, a popular U.S. compact truck for decades, will end  production Friday morning.

The pickup debuted in 1982. At times, it was the top-selling U.S. compact  pickup. Ford says 6,657,881 Rangers have been sold.

Ranger's best year was 1999, when 348,358 were sold. Sales this year through  November tallied 64,114, a 26 percent increase over the first 11 months of 2010  and good enough to place No. 2 overall in compact truck sales. Mazda even had a  version of the Ranger, known as the B series.

Over its history, the Ranger became a popular pickup with America's youth,  handymen and some tradesmen. But as the Ford F-150, Chevy Silverado and the  former Dodge Ram battled for sales with big rebates and generous lease deals,  compact intenders discovered they could easily afford a full-sized pickup.

The result? Ranger sales suffered.

In more recent years, Ford focused engineering and technology updates on the  F-150. The Ranger's improvements essentially amounted to cosmetic changes. Ford  pretty much gave up on the compact pickup market.

Meanwhile, the competition intensified. Rivals made improvements and their  models grew in size and capability. Today the Toyota Tacoma is No. 1, holding 37  percent of the small pickup market. The Ranger is No. 2 with 24 percent,  followed by the Nissan Frontier, 17 percent, according to the Automotive News  Data Center. The Chevrolet Colorado is a distant fourth with a 10 percent  share.

As for Ranger, Friday it will wave the white flag and surrender. The last  Ranger will roll off the assembly line at Ford's Twin Cities plant in St. Paul,  Minn.

While the Ranger name will die here, it continues around the globe,  specifically on Ford's new mid-sized pickup. But Ford says there are no plans to  sell the mid-sized Ranger here.

So for now, at least in the United States, the Ranger name will be filed away  with such Ford nameplates as Falcon, Fairlane, Pinto, Maverick, Granada,  Ranchero, Crown Victoria and Thunderbird.

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Mon, 12 December 2011

Wealthier Shoppers Looking at Used Luxury

"December has certainly been a month to remember for dealers over the last two years,'" said Chief Economist Lacey Plache. "And with a substantial number of new car buyers still coming back to the market after deferring their purchases this summer, dealers have plenty of reason to believe that this December will continue the trend.

"Recent income growth, moderated inflation and improved consumer confidence are all combining to put consumers in a better position to spend."

New-car buyers tend toward a wealthier demographic. So do used luxury buyers and they're doing more shopping lately, too.

Luxury vehicles were the certified pre-owned "Big Movers," at the segment level, and in the list of the top 20 most-viewed vehicles for in October.

The majority of consumers consider both new and pre-owned choices when they are searching for their next vehicle, so it is no surprise that we saw a spike in activity around luxury cars on the CPO front in the same month that we saw an increase in new luxury car shopper activity," said Rick Wainschel, vice president of automotive insights at "There are strong signs of pent up demand for luxury vehicles among car shoppers, indicating that despite continuing economic headwinds, there are more consumers willing and able to consider higher end choices."

For CPO luxury cars, it was Jaguar that had the most models to make big moves in October, with the XJ Series moving up 34 spots to No. 174, the XF moving up 30 spots to No. 143 and the XK Series moving up 28 spots to No. 177.

On the segment level, luxury cars came in as the No. 1 CPO segment on in October. Out of all the CPO segments in October, luxury cars and SUVs were the only ones to see month-over-month increases in consumer interest. The luxury car segment increased 0.4 share points from September to October, and the luxury SUV segment increased 0.7 share points during the same time.

In looking at the most-viewed CPO vehicles, luxury cars claimed six of the top 20 spots on the list of most-viewed CPO cars in October, more than any other segment represented. The BMW 3 Series, always a favorite among CPO shoppers, took the No. 1 spot again in October, a position it held during the same time last year.

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