Sub-Ranger Ford Pickup Spotted?

We’ve heard rumblings about Ford’s plan to bestow a small, unibody pickup on North American customers before, but now there’s photographic evidence.

Images published by Ford Authority show what appears to be a van tooling around the automaker’s Dearborn campus, but is actually a compact pickup wearing an entire tent of camouflage. A telltale trademark filing and reports over the summer are now starting to bear fruit.

In July, Ford filed a U.S. trademark application for the Courier name, which many will recall as the moniker applied to a number of tiny Ford pickups offered in overseas markets. The most recent Courier, built in Brazil, used the Fiesta as its starting point. Earlier, from 1972 to 1982, Ford sold a rebadged Mazda as the Courier in North America (note the gorgeous example in the lead photo).

At the time of the trademark filing, a Ford spokesperson told Car and Driver that the company would be “significantly expanding our North America lineup with all-new vehicles and entering new segments with fresh designs and white-space silhouettes that will position us for even more growth.”

Entering new segments, eh? Just days earlier, a report cited sources with knowledge of Ford’s product plans. Apparently, they said, the automaker plans to introduce a unibody pickup based on the next-generation Focus line’s C2 platform (which won’t underpin any Focuses anywhere near here). This is the versatile architecture Ford’s European head of engineering, Joe Bakaj, once called the “holy grail.”

In the spy photos, what looks like a van reveals itself as a truck in a number of ways. Mainly, via a failure of camo to convince the viewer of the van pretext. With the long-awaited Ranger appearing on dealer lots within a month, evidence of an America-bound compact truck shows that Ford’s not about to leave a non-car segment untapped, even if its profitability is still a big question mark. How small is too small for the U.S. truck buyer? How low a price would Ford have to slap on it to make the Courier an attractive buy?

With Hyundai almost certainly launching a unibody pickup based on the Santa Cruz concept in the coming years, the Courier wouldn’t be without rivals. It might also prove appealing to small fleet buyers, which already gobble up Ford’s Transit Connect van in considerable numbers.

Based on everything we’re hearing, the little Ford truck will go into production in Mexico to avoid the chicken tax and keep overall costs down. A launch will likely come in 2021.

[Image: Murilee Martin/TTAC]

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