Within the legalese of Ford’s new contract with the UAW (United Auto Workers) — the automaker’s union for vehicle production — is a suggestion of what’s to come for its Michigan Assembly Plant. The UAW also said Ford agreed to invest $9 billion during the next four years, creating or retaining 8,500 jobs.
In 2018, Ford’s C-Max and Focus will move production from Michigan to Mexico, freeing up space for a pair of models to be built in the states. If rumors are to be believed, those vehicles will be truck revivals — specifically, the Ford Bronco SUV and Ford Ranger pickup. As a reminder, the Ford Ranger has continued production as a global model, but was phased out of the U.S. in 2011. As for the Bronco, that went out of production altogether in 1996.
So why the return of these two models? The Ranger has sold very well abroad and with the light truck market heating up in America (Chevrolet’s Colorado, GMC’s Canyon, and Toyota’s Tacoma), Ford will want to capture market share sooner rather than later. As for the Bronco, it’s not exactly clear how or why Ford would bring the SUV back from the dead. No doubt, the Bronco had a cultish following, but as a full-size model, it would be competing internally with both the Explorer and Expedition. It’s possible that since the Bronco will be produced in the same facility as the Ranger, it would share its underpinnings and therefore would be a smaller model. The 2004 Concept definitely piqued enthusiast appetites, so who knows what the end result will look like.
While the vehicles have yet to be confirmed by Ford, The Detroit Free Press cites an internal source who stated that the Ranger would be produced in Michigan by 2020 and the Bronco would follow soon after. Since it will require an investment of time and money to gear up for production of both models, the timeline makes sense.
Around the same time that Ford will be shifting production of its C-Max and Focus, models like the Ford Fusion and Taurus could be discontinued or simply moved outside the U.S. The assumption comes from a report by Automotive News that notes the absence of these two sedans from Ford’s new contract. If that happens, only the Lincoln Continental and Ford Mustang would remain as the brand’s U.S.-produced cars.