The UK pick-up market is changing, with a number of manufacturers leaving the sector completely, at least for now. It’s not due to lack of demand, however, pick-up sales were up 36.7% year on year to the end of March, with Ford’s Ranger the fourth best-selling LCV overall in the UK that month.
Yet Mercedes-Benz has called time on the X-Class, Volkswagen has stopped selling Amaroks in Europe for now, Fiat Professional has dropped the Fullback, Nissan only has existing dealer stock of Navara and Mitsubishi will not replace the current L200 in Europe. It seems there won’t be an open bed version of the new Land Rover Defender Commercial either. Basically, the market will consist of Ford’s Ranger, the Toyota Hilux and Isuzu’s recently updated D-Max, with SsangYong continuing to grab sales with the Musso.
This is partly driven by falling sales for some models, but also by manufacturer concerns over corporate average fuel economy, that promote smaller, more fuel-efficient or electric vehicles, over gas-guzzling SUVs and pick-ups.
That’s not to say that the pick-up market will disappear, far from it. Ford is already working on the next generation of Ranger and this will form the basis of a comeback Amarok for VW. Toyota’s Hilux recently got a second engine line and SsangYong will launch an updated Musso Grand here in the summer.
Looking further ahead, Isuzu has revealed that it is working on an electric D-Max, while Ford in the US has shown a prototype F-150 Electric for a possible 2023 launch, which could lead to an EV version of Ranger. There are several potential newcomers in this market too, with companies such as Rivian and Tesla both looking at the electric truck sector in the North American market.
To meet current demand, Ford will be launching two additional special edition versions of Ranger, in the Wolftrak and the Stormtrak, both of which arrive in dealers in October. The Ranger Stormtrak is based on the Wildtrak model, but with an even higher specification. Powered by the 213hp version of the 2.0-litre engine and driving through the 10-speed automatic transmission, the Stormtrak model will have a premium leather interior and be offered in red, blue or white colour schemes. It will also get a powered Roller Shutter load bed cover, that will be optional on other Ranger double-cabs.
The Wolftrak model will be based on the XLT trim, powered by a 170hp engine and offered with a choice of manual or automatic transmissions. The truck will have an electronically-locking rear differential and all-terrain tyres as standard. Both of the new Ranger models will retain a payload in excess of 1.0-tonne and can still tow the full 3.5-tonnes.