Ford ready for pickup truck assault in China

2017 Ford Ranger

2017 Ford Ranger

Pickup trucks may be as American as apple pie, but Ford sees a big opportunity for the vehicles in China where the automaker will be introducing its famous “Built Ford Tough” tagline.

Ford’s been exporting F-150 Raptor SuperCrews to China since the start of the year, and at its Go Further, China event held on Saturday in Shanghai the automaker confirmed local pricing will start at approximately $72,395.

Ford also used the event to confirm sales of the smaller Ranger pickup truck in China will start in 2018. That’s the same year the vehicle is due to go on sale in the United States. Ford didn’t say where the Rangers for sale in China will be built, but in the U.S. production will be handled at Ford’s Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne, Michigan.

2017 Ford F-150 Raptor SuperCrews being shipped to China

2017 Ford F-150 Raptor SuperCrews being shipped to China

“We’re very excited to bring Built Ford Tough, one of the world’s best loved and most successful brands, to customers in the world’s largest auto market,” Ford CEO Mark Fields said in a statement. “We see a significant white-space opportunity with Chinese buyers increasingly looking for more capable, more refined and more stylish pickups.”

Fields is correct in his thinking. There’s significant untapped demand for pickup trucks in China. The segment represents less than 2.0 percent of the country’s overall new vehicle market, but this already makes it the fourth largest truck market in the world. And the segment is still experiencing substantial growth with sales expanding 14 percent last year. One of the reasons for the strong growth is the government’s easing of restrictions on pickup usage in city centers.

Ford has dominated pickup truck sales in the U.S. for years, with its F-Series coming in as the top-selling truck here for the past four decades. The automaker is now making moves to repeat that success in China.

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