DEARBORN, Mich., Aug. 20 (UPI) -- Automobile industry analysts say Ford Motor Co.'s decision to stop marketing compact pickup trucks in the United States is costing the company customers.
Ford still makes the Ranger pickup truck for foreign markets, but discontinued production in the United States in December after a 30-year production run.
Ford made 6.6 million Rangers over the years, but sales had dropped to a fraction of its peak and it was already in conflict with the Ford's full-sized F-150 truck, which had become more fuel efficient.
But giving up on the Ranger may have cost the company more customers than they had expected, The Detroit News reported Monday. Company loyalty only goes so far.
"We do know that a good portion of would-be Ranger buyers are going to different brands. Ford may have been too optimistic in their assumption of how many Ranger buyers want to buy an F-150," said Jesse Toprak, vice president of industry analysis at TrueCar.com.
"A lot of them do go into pickup trucks because they need to, but a lot of owners are long-time owners and need a car," said Jim Elder, general sales manager at Suburban Ford of Sterling Heights, Mich.
"People are more conscious than ever of gas prices. When Ranger was popular, the gas wasn't really an issue."
Ford, however, may also prove to be ahead of the curve, as U.S. sales of compact pickup trucks have fallen from 6 percent of the overall market to 2 percent.
Automotive research firm Edmunds.com said 40 percent of former Ranger owners had cross-shopped a Toyota Tacoma, about twice the number of those who had cross-shopped an F-150.